Friday, August 31, 2007

a Win Really Just a Win?

by NSC (this was supposed to be published Friday afternoon)

I want everyone who reads this blog to sit back and think about something for a minute. Fresno State embarks upon its 2007 football season tomorrow night at seven p.m (On a side note for those of you who will not be there tomorrow shame on you, it's the season opener and you need to get out there and see what this team is all about). Although we open the season against Sacramento State this game is being viewed by fans in various different aspects. Some fans are not excited about the prospects of playing a Div. 1AA school to start the season. Some fans think it is great to play a Div. 1AA school because this team needs to build some confidence going into the following two weeks at A&M and Oregon. Some fans do not care who we play and are just happy there is a college football game for the first time in nine months in the city of Fresno (I am a part of this group). While we all have our differing opinions of what this game means to the Bulldogs the question I want to ask is: If we win does it really matter how we win the game?

Tomorrow night there is a possibility that Fresno State will run the ball continuously and still win the game by at least four td's. Sacramento State is starting over in a sense as they welcome in an entirely new offense to the team. The Hornets will not have much of a chance against the Bulldogs but do you as fans expect Fresno State to throw for 300 yards? Do you expect the Dogs to run for 200 yards on the ground? Do you expect Devon Wylie or Clifton Smith to return a kick for a td? Do you expect the defense to be stellar and shut down the Hornets? What happens if the Dogs play is less than stellar? What happens if in the fourth quarter the Bulldogs find themselves winning by a mere td and our QB falters once again? Will you as fans begin to turn on the Bulldogs? What happens if the final score is 24-17 and the Dogs leave with a hard fought win? Yes the Dogs will have won the game but isn't this win so much more than just a win? When all is said and done wouldn't a win such as this type leave the fans with much to ponder in the coming week?

We as fans want the Dogs to punish the Hornets much like Boise State manhandled Weber State last night. But does the style of win truly matter? I used to worry about stats. I used to feel like it was important if our QB threw for 4,000 yards and 35 td's in a season. Today I do not care. Today all that matters is that the Bulldogs finish with a higher score than the opponent. If Fresno State scored 24 points a game and went 12-0 all that would matter is that 12-0 finish. In the end a win is never just a win. A win is always so much more than just that. A win gives us implications that maybe this team will win again next week. Sometimes a win tells us that there is no way we are going to win the following game because of the style we won the game in. Sometimes teams win and have no business doing so. In 2007 I feel like Fresno State will break even. I think this is a .500 team talent and experience wise. However, if this team wins seven to ten games I wil not care how it is done. If Brandstater throws for 150 yards and does not make the big game mistakes that he made in 2006 I will think of him as a much better QB. If Our CB's turn around while running down the field I will think of them as far superior to what we had last year. If our d-line finds a way to get pressure on the QB often I will feel like the d-line outplayed the d-line from 2006.

In the end a win is never just a win. If the Dogs win in an ugly game so many will find a way to crucify this team for the way they played. However, just remember that it does not matter if the Bulldogs win games 55-10 or 42-39, both still go down in the win column and that is the one result that matters. I do not have as positive an outlook on the season as MDG does. I do not feel this team will make a bowl game, but as I said before if they do I do not care how it happens. I do not care what they will have done to accomplsih a bowl game, I only care that they got there. I hope that most of you Bulldog fans feel the same exact way when all is said and done.

Note - Zagfan is the one who threw this idea for a blog at me. He asked me to write about the way we perceive the wins that the Bulldogs experience. He said that Mario gave him an assist on this. Thanks for the idea guys and by the way now that we play a real team in two weeks I wll start the blog up for good for quite a while starting Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What to Expect Come September 1st

It has been nearly nine months since we last witnessed a Fresno State football game at Bulldog Stadium. We have had long enough to spout off about what happened in 2006. We have had plenty of time to vent our frustrations about losing to the likes of San Jose State (yes I still believe they are an average football team at best) and Utah State. We have had three quarters of a year to put down Tom Brandstater, Pat Hill, and anyone else associated with the Bulldogs football program that has not pulled his weight. However, we have also had the past nine months to see the changes that have been made to the football program. No longer is this a Pat Hill led team that is overconfident. No longer do we have a Bulldog team that headlines the WAC. Instead in 2007 there are two top 25 teams and for the first time in as long as I can remember neither one is Fresno State. In other words we finally have the chance to start over on September 1st. I for one cannot wait for the first game this season. In year's past I have always thoroughly enjoyed the first full day of college football. However this season is going to be something different. Fresno State does not allow you to begin tailgating until four hours before the football game begins but I am here to tell you that Saturday September 1st my football day is going to start well before three pm. If everything goes to plan this is exactly how September 1st is going to go for a fan such as me.

9am - On college football Saturday I usually roll out of bed ready for any game that is being shown on television. I do not care if I am watching Southwestern Alabama A&M vs. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the point is college football is finally back. I will wake up and turn the TV on within ten seconds of my eyes opening. My g/f will let out a loud sigh because she realizes what that symbolizes for the next four months of my life. She will stare at me and say "So it begins". From there I will get up and go out to the living room to begin watching college football on the large flat screen HD TV that I paid far too much money for. But the greatest thing about September 1st is that the Bulldogs play their first game that night. I will get the Fresno Bee that day (the only day of the year I get it) and read the previews so I can get a feel for what others think about how the day will go against Sac State.

11am - By the time I am done reading my g/f will come out and ask me why I have not showered. If you are a college football fan you know the answer is because there is some irrelevant game that has my attention and I cannot shower until halftime or the game is over. From that point I will then get up and grab my DVDs of all past Bulldog games I have and begin watching them. I have to be able to see some great Bulldog moments so I can get ready for what I am about to see only eight hours later. The MPC Bowl will get me excited because I know the Bulldogs will be back to that level of play in the next few years.

1pm - By this time due to constant nagging I will have finally showered and my friends will have headed over to watch whatever game is on. We will all reminisce about the great moments in Bulldog past and begin to talk about the 2007 season. We will ask "Can Tommy do it this year for us? Will Devon Wylie be the impact player we hope him to be? Will our defense be the rock it once was for this team? Will Ryan Mathews get as much playing time as his skills warrant? Last but not least will Pat Hill regain control of this team the way he has in years past?" The 2007 season will begin in four hours so we will all finally head out to the Bark Board tailgate to meet up with Mario (MDG), Matt (Zagfan559) and everyone else who will be down there to celebrate the greatest day of the year.

3pm - The Bulldog tailgate will begin and each and everyone of us will now become giddy because there is nothing that makes us feel better in life than watching the Bulldogs play football. We will all begin to enter the white, blue, and red lots and notice how much red we see across the stadium. The Bulldog fans will have returned with hope and loyalty in their hearts as they want players like Brandstater to succeed. 2006 left us with a bad taste but it did not make all of asinine cynical fans. We still love the Bulldogs and we still hope that these players will perform as well as we know they can. That is what makes us great fans, we hold out hope for these guys regardless of what happens.

5pm - After drinking way too much when I first arrive I will finally decide its probably a good idea to stop acting like an idiot and to eat something so I don't miss half the game in the bathroom due to being sick. The game is now less than two hours away and I will think about how great of a Saturday this has been with all of my football friends. Football games should be events that all of us Bulldog fans will remember because we get to spend time with those that share the same hopes: That one day the Bulldogs will finish 12-0.

7pm - Finally the game will begin and the Bulldogs will have a chance to begin the season 1-0. We may be playing Sac State but a win is a win. We will sit in the stands and watch this team come together for the first time in over a season and a half. We will watch Devon Wylie and Clifton Smith scare the hell out of the Hornets kick return game. We will watch Tom Brandstater finally show some faith in himself and make the passes we all know he can. We will watch our defense rise to the occasion, and we will watch the Bulldogs walk away with a win. As I said it may be a win over Sac State but it will be a win that offers the Dogs promise. We will believe that there is that chance this team can pull together and upset A&M and Oregon the following two weeks. However, when all is said and done football Saturdays will have begun and regardless of what happens with the Dogs we will have eleven more games and three more months to watch our beloved Bulldogs play football. That is why September 1st is a great day and I hope all of you enjoy it just as much as I will.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scrimmage Notes: The QB's

After watching our three QB's this past Saturday at the Bulldogs first scrimmage I obviously have my opinion of who shined with their performance and who didn't. I will be the first to say that Brandstater looked far and away better than he did at this point last season, but remember he is in his second season as our starter and third year overall. Brandstater should be outperforming the other QB's on this team with ease. He should step on the field and take command of the team as soon as his presence is known. Overall the offense looked far better than the defense this past weekend. If I were to sum up the performance of the three QB's it would go as follows:

Tom Brandstater - Tom looked comfortable in every set aside third and long. When he was forced into third and long he seemed lost on the field. I still don't feel like Brandstater goes through his progressions well, and have to say that we will not be seeing the deep ball often with him at QB. Unless the play called is a fly pattern to a speedy receiver Brandstater is not going to throw the ball deep. He often gets confused on third downs and seems to lose his place on the field. If there is a down where he tends to throw off of his back foot because he seems a bit rushed it is the third and long situations. However, I am not going to sit here and put this man down because he did finish 12 for 16 and threw for far more yards than he ever has before. Overall after our first scrimmage I was impressed with what Brandstater showed. Look, this guy is never going to be David Carr or Billy Volek. Instead he can be another Paul Pinegar but he will have to limit his mistakes and learn to progress through his receivers a bit better. Brandstater still looks as if he locks on to the receivers from time to time and in the end that is going to lead to far more mistakes than this Bulldog defense will be able to make up for. Overall I would give Brandstater a solid "B" grade for his performance as he showed us that he may be able to take this offense much further than he has in the past.

Ryan Colburn - Of the three QB's Colburn left us with the worst impression of the night. Colburn ran his reps with the second team. At times he looked very poised as if he could take over for this team if we needed him to, but other times left us thinking we may be in trouble if Tom does not get the job done as the starter. Colburn has a good arm, I cannot discount that. He also has the size to play QB for this team but more and more I feel like his high school competition is what has hindered his progression. I don't believe that coming from a Division five California school truly prepared him for what he would experience in college at a Division one school. Although Fresno State plays in the WAC I feel that Colburn is going to continue to struggle if he is put into game situations. I will give him more time to develop because hell we have given Tommy three years of second chances. As of right now I would have to say that Colburn has a lot of work to do to become the QB of this team. I think at times he gets flustered as the QB and when he rolls out he does not know what to do with the ball. As I stated earlier if Colburn is forced to play this season I do not see a positive outlook on the QB position. Overall I would give Colburn a "C" for his performance in the scrimmage.

Matt Faulkner - I did not see Faulkner practice before the Saturday scrimmage. All I knew about him was what I had seen in his high school tapes and what Mario had said about the way he practiced this past week. I expected Faulkner to look lost on offense. I expected Faulkner to have some serious problems finding open receivers. I was completely wrong. Now before I talk about how impressed I was by Faulkner I will state that he did play the third team defense. But in his defense he was working with the third team offense as well. First and foremost one aspect that Faulkner seems to have grasped well is patience. On his long TD pass to Lang down the left side Faulkner waited until Lang beat his cover man down the left side. I have to say for a kid fresh out of high school Faulkner seems to have the mentality to make it as a QB. He did not struggle with any aspect of the game. If he improved this much in one weeks time can we expect this kid to come around down the line and eventually take over this team two years from now? If he can continue to progress the way he has in the past two weeks then Faulkner one day will be the starter for this team. However that is a big if as we all know progressing over time means very little if he cannot get the job done in a game. Overall I would give Faulkner a "B+" for his performance Saturday night.

One thing you have to remember when looking at the grades I gave the three QB's is that I am grading them on my expectations for them. I expected Brandstater to blow away the defense because he has four years of knowledge with this team. I expected much more from Colburn that what I saw, and I definitely did not expect Faulkner to perform as well as he did. So while Faulkner received a better grade than Tom I do not think he necessarily outperformed Tom, he just surprised me more than Brandstater did. Tomorrow I will cover problems on defense and what will have to be done in order to make up for the tremendous loss of Lane at LB. Let me know what you thought of the QB's Saturday night. I know we won't always agree on what we saw out there, but it's good to get a feel for what everyone thought of the scrimmage and how it went.