Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who Will Win the WAC? How About Three Teams

by nsc

I know the title seems absurd to this blog but it refers to exactly how I think the WAC will finish this season. Because the overall talent in the WAC is down I think we are going to see a level of parody among the top three teams this season that could rival how things finished back when the WAC was 16 teams and the first place teams commonly tied at 6-2. With that being said here is how I see the WAC playing out now that the non-conference schedules for most of the WAC teams have begun and are coming to a close sooner than later. Each team's projected WAC record follows their name.

1) Hawaii 7-1 (1st tie) - I know Hawaii has the easiest road to an
undefeated WAC season. I just do not see them finishing without a
loss in the WAC. MDG is adamant that the Warriors will lose two games
(Nevada and Boise) but I do not think that offense will falter two
times in the same season. At the same time this may come down to
wishful thinking as I do not want to see a team with Hawaii's schedule
run the table and qualify for a BCS game. If the Warriors are able to
do something of this sort it will prove that all mid-majors such as
Fresno State will have scheduled tough for absolutely no reason and
instead those with the weak scheduling philosophy are the ones that
reap the benefits in the end.

2) Boise State 7-1 (1st tie) - The Broncos have already lost to
Washington and struggled to a win over the Cowboys from Wyoming.
However, in WAC play we all know that the Broncos do an outstanding
job of playing well enough to win every game. This season I feel like
that the Broncos will knock off Hawaii but will experience only their
second loss to Fresno State in their past seven games with the
Bulldogs. Because the Dogs will have beaten the Broncos and the
Broncos will have beaten the Warriors all three teams will be left
with one loss in the conference. Now a team such as Nevada can knock
off one of these teams and ruin all that I think will happen, but that
is why these are predictions. After all how often do predictions come

3) Fresno State 7-1 (1st tie) - Fresno State opens up with La. Tech
and then begins their road schedule with Nevada followed by Idaho. If
Fresno State can get by Nevada they then have a chance to begin the
season 6-0. I believe Fresno State will win it's game at Nevada and
run off six games in a row before their battle at Hawaii. Fresno will
give Hawaii everything they have in their tank and take that game down
to the wire but I don't know if Fresno's offense will be able to keep
up with the Warriors for the entire length of the game. Overall this
will be a very positive year for Fresno State in the WAC as they will
tie for the WAC title and play in a bowl game.

4) New Mexico State 5-3 (2nd) - The Aggies will have a very strong
season with Chase Holbrook at QB. Although I do not think the Aggies
will beat Fresno State, Hawaii, or Boise State I do not think there is
another team in the WAC that will knock off NMSU. With a 5-3 record
the Aggies will be bowl elgible and possibly play in a bowl game. I
do not know the last time NMSU played in a bowl game but I am quite
sure it has been a long while. This will be a stepping stone for the
Aggies who look like the only new member of the WAC who is actually
progressing instead of regressing or making absolutely no improvements

5) Nevada 4-4 (3rd) - The Wolf pack look to have a very tough season
ahead of them. They have already dropped two games, one of them to a
Northwestern team that gave Duke it's first win in 23 games. If the
Wolf pack struggled against a bad Northwestern team there is no
telling how they will play against the likes of Fresno, Boise, Hawaii,
and NMSU. I still think the Wolf pack have enough to pull out a .500
record in the WAC. This is a rebuilding season for Chris Ault and his
pistol offense but Graziano seems to be the type of QB that can learn
the offense and run with it. Expect Nevada to be a difference maker
much sooner than later.

6) Louisiana Tech 3-5 (4th) - La. Tech is one of the many reasons why
I prefer to wait to predict records for the WAC. La. Tech is
returning somewhere in the arena of 4 starters this season but their
coach has them playing some tough football down there in the South.
La. Tech lost to Hawaii 45-44 in overtime and has shown that it's
offense might be much tougher to stop than originally thought. With
Champion at QB opposing teams will have to put pressure on Champion
early and often to take him out of his game. Although La. Tech won't
be nearly as bad as originally thought they still will not have enough
to finish in the top half of the WAC.

7) San Jose State 1-7 (5th tie) - I have to say that I see very little
positives out of the Spartans up to this point of the season. I
realize they are dealing with a rash of injuries but their QB has
looked awful and they have not played defense in any way, shape, or
form. Their embarrassing 37-0 loss to a bad Stanford team should tell
us all we need to know about San Jose. The Spartans take on Utah
State this weekend and I feel like the Aggies of Utah State have a chance to
pull this game out. Tomey may be upset with the Spartans for the way
they have played their first three games but they have lost not
because of bad preparation but instead because they are bad as a
team. Look for 2006 to be an anomaly and for the Spartans to have an
awful 2007.

8) Idaho 1-7 (5th tie) - Idaho is a terrible football team. They lost
their coach, have very little on the offensive and defensive side of
the ball, and play in one of the single worst football arenas in the
nation. The Kibbie Dome is a death trap for most football players as
the surface is awful and more often than not leads to a terrible
injury. Look for Idaho to find a way to lose almost every game they
play aside their match up with Utah State. I do not expect much from
Idaho and in the long run look for this team to have many years of
underachieving in their near future.

9) Utah State 1-7 (5th tie) - Utah State is a team that knocked off
Fresno State last year for one of it's biggest wins in school
history. However, this team has not won a game since their upset
against Fresno and quite honestly they have not come close to beating
anyone. In 2007 Utah State will not beat anyone of worth as Fresno
will get it's revenge on a very bad Utah State team that lost to
Oklahoma 54-3 this past weekend. Utah State will be a team mired in
the bottom of the WAC for many years to come unless they decide to
make some changes for the better. It doesn't help that their in-state
competition for recruits is nationally known Utah and BYU.

Overall the WAC will be down this season which in turn that will
create an exciting finish for the top half of this conference. Look
for some hard fought victories when the top three play one another.
These games will be exciting and I am quite sure there will be some
upsets I did not predict. WAC football is always kind of crazy, so
expect the unexpected.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BlogPoll Roundtable 3.2: Storylines Emerge...My First BlogPoll Roundtable

by nsc

Yesterday MDG sent me an email that asked me to answer some questions about the Bulldogs and the WAC as a whole. Personally I think these questions are great for a blog. I have decided that since we do not play for ten more days I am going to do blogs such as this one today. Anyhow on to the questions asked by the Texas Longhorns Blog Burnt Orange Nation.

What's a BlogPoll Roundtable? Bloggers/BlogPoll voters use these questions as an opportunity to learn more about the teams our colleagues follow most closely.

1) Handicap Fresno State's chances to win the WAC. If Fresno State is not the favorite then who is?

First off let me say I think the Bulldogs have a very good shot at winning the WAC this season. The reason for my optimism is the schedule. Fresno State in my eyes has one of the most favorable WAC schedules this season (aside Hawaii of course). Because the Bulldogs are such a young team they will need a large amount of confidence going into the game at Hawaii. Having the first six games set up the way they do only helps the Dogs. Fresno opens at home with La. Tech, a game they should win. From there they travel to play a Nevada team that is still gelling due to the loss of Jeff Rowe. Fresno will have a great chance to walk away from both Nevada and Idaho with wins. The dogs then return home to face San Jose, Boise State, and Utah State. If the Dogs walk away from that three game stretch with victories they will travel to Hawaii with a 7-2 record (6-0 in the WAC). With a 6-0 WAC record the Dogs will have every chance to knock off a Hawaii team that may not have a loss at that point either. If I were to put the Dogs chances of winning into a percentage I would say we have a 40% chance of either winning or tying for the WAC this season.

Although I do believe the Dogs can win the WAC the frontrunner has to be Hawaii. Their schedule is very favorable as they get both Fresno and Boise in Hawaii. However, they do have to travel to Nevada and they have lost to Boise all six times they have played them since Boise joined the WAC. I have seen stranger things happen in the WAC (ex. Fresno losing to Boise while being 6-0 and ranked #8 in the nation). In other words I realize Hawaii is the favorite but I would not be surprised to see them lose once in WAC play.

2) Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for Fresno State

Some may feel I am being overly optimistic or may just refer to me as a Bulldog homer with respect to the best case scenario for the Dogs. I believe the best case scenario for Fresno State is they finish 7-1 with a share of the WAC title. I would say they finish 8-0 but their final two road games in WAC play may be their two toughest games in the WAC this season and I think they will lose one of those two games. I believe the Dogs will come away with a close loss at Hawaii and a close win over NMSU.

The worst case scenario for the Dogs in WAC play is to finish 4-4 once again. The Dogs will beat the following teams: San Jose, Utah State, Idaho, and La. Tech. The Dogs could lose to Hawaii, Boise, Nevada, and NMSU. If they do not play up to their ability we will see the Dogs finish 4-4 in WAC play and they very well could end up under .500 overall for the second straight year. I do not believe this will happen though mainly because the youth on this team will be refreshing and they believe they can win every game they step on the field to play.

3) We're only three games into the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare Fresno State to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.

Fresno State has earned the reputation of a giant killer over the past ten seasons. However, I don't truly feel that is who this university is anymore. Instead I feel like we are a young team that has the confidence that they can win every game they play. I feel like the Bulldogs are going to grow as the season moves along and in the end learn more about who they truly are as a team than any one Bulldog team in the passed has learned. I think if the Bulldogs were to be compared to a cartoon character Mighty Mouse may be the best example. I mean the Dogs generally are far undersized when it comes to the football field yet they play with their hearts and they give a complete effort every time they step on the field.

4) Imagine you are the coach of the Bulldogs. Give three specific changes you would implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.

If I had the power to change three things about Fresno State's game plan they would go as follows:

1) First of all Trevor Shamblee would not be returning kicks. I realize they are using him as a blocker but Devon Wylie needs to get his hands on the football. He is explosive and I would think having him in the game would be a positive and not a negative. At the same time I would have Wylie taking both the kickoff and punt returns and only put Smith in the game as a third down back.

2) I would give the running back job to Ryan Matthews. I realize he had a costly fumble last week at Oregon but he has shown that he has both the vision and speed to make the defense miss him on almost every carry.

3) Lastly I would implement a blitz package on defense that would have an extra player coming in on almost every play. In order to beat a team such as Hawaii pressure on the QB is a must and our corners and safeties have the speed to get to the QB before he throws the ball. The worst case scenario here is the QB is forced to throw the ball before he wants to resulting in a positive for the defense.

5) USC, LSU, Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?

If we are only talking about finding their way into a BCS game you truly have to consider Hawaii as one of the favorites with their weak schedule. As far as the championship game I would not rule out Wisconsin and Ohio State quite yet. The Big Ten is down this season and Wisconsin and Ohio State have just as good a shot as anyone to run the table in that conference. If they can do that and the big four lose a game they will find themselves in a perfect spot to slide into the championship game (and lose to whomever they play out of the big four).

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Oregon Aftermath

It wasn't supposed to go like this. Fresno State was not supposed to travel to Eugene for the fourth time in the past fifteen years and come home with a loss like this. The Dogs were supposed to go to Eugene and compete with an athletic Ducks team. The Dogs were supposed to go into Eugene and show they were ready for big time college football. Instead the Dogs left Eugene wondering if they were indeed ready for that step up level of college football. Make no mistakes about this one: Oregon is a better team than our Fresno State Bulldogs. Oregon has speed, size, and the ability to take over a game right from the first snap. Oregon will force you into making mistakes and will continually put pressure on the offense to make a play. Unfortunately Fresno State was not able to come through when it mattered the most in this game. Terrible decisions by senior leaders on the Bulldogs would be what did the Dogs in. Marcus Riley's late hit on Dennis Dixon could be viewed as the momentum changing play of the game. Fresno State went from receiving a punt down 14-6 to giving up a TD only two plays later and trailing 21-6. Riley is not known for making such mistakes and I am quite sure this will not happen again this season. However, this was not the only mistake made by the Bulldogs. Fresno State turned the ball over two times, both of which nearly led to defensive TD's for the Ducks. The Dogs also made mistakes on kick return coverage and our punt returner made a terrible decision when he decided to call for a fair catch and instead decided to drill the gunner coming for the ball. Although this game went against what we had hoped for as fans I still believe this team can compete for the WAC and here is why.

1) The WAC is wide open this season - After seeing Hawaii struggle against La. Tech and Boise struggle to beat Wyoming I have to believe that Fresno State has as good a chance as anyone to win the WAC this season. The Dogs now have two weeks to prepare for La. Tech at home and the schedule is favorable for the Dogs. They have an early game in Nevada meaning the weather should not affect their play. They finish the season at NMSU where the weather also should not pose a problem. If the Dogs can figure out that you can also open the running game through the use of the pass I have a feeling the season will completely turn around. How many receivers have dropped passes this season? I have been able to count two dropped balls by receivers up to this point and after three games that is quite impressive. At the same time how well has TB played? I have to say he has come a long ways from that QB that we had absolutely no faith in last season. I am going to guarantee that Brandstater throws for over 300 yards in one of the Dogs first three WAC games.

2) Fresno State is a young inexperienced team - Believe it or not this may actually help us when going into the WAC season. Because this team is not a senior laden team they will be able to shake off the losses on the road and come home for a win. The 2007 Dogs still are quite fast and compared to the rest of the WAC they should have no problems keeping up with anyone on the field aside Hawaii.

3) We were not going to go undefeated in the first place - I truly believe that the coaching staff knew this team was not going to win every game that it played. For that reason I feel like the Dogs goal at the beginning of the season was to win the WAC. Although many of you feel that is a terrible goal for this team I on the other hand personally feel that is exactly the goal this team should have. I feel like the Dogs should aim to win the WAC in 2007 and go for it all in 2008. The Dogs will only get stronger as the season progresses (barring any other unforeseen injuries) and 2008 will offer a chance at a wonderful season for this team.

Remember that this is a relatively young team. These players will have time to grow together as a unit. Fresno State's LB's are still very strong and their secondary has done a decent job in coverage as well. Although the pass unit has not faced a team like Hawaii they are still keeping the opposing team's QB's from achieving astronomical numbers on the field. The D and O lines need a lot of help and truthfully losing two O-line starters does not make things any easier for Fresno State. Hopefully having a week off will give the Dogs time to heal and we can enter the game against La. Tech at near full strength. Fresno State will only go as far as their confidence can take them. This seems to be a team that believes they are better than they showed at Oregon. I am sure this team will put this game behind them and begin a streak in the WAC that could possibly take us to Hawaii undefeated in conference play. If that happens then I hope the fans in the city of Fresno will once again support a team that is searching for it's identity as a whole. I believe Fresno State will find it sooner than later and this will be a solid season regardless of the loss to Oregon.

BlogPoll Ballot

This was a tough one to compile. The top four teams are a no-brainer. Penn State was my preseason No. 5 team and they have not done anything to tarnish their ranking per se. But the No. 6 spot? Texas did not look like the No. 6 team this week. I am still no sold on the Mountaineers. Wisconsin continues to struggle, but the Badgers are still winning. But is any one playing better than Oregon right now? No. 6 maybe a bit high, but I don't know who else to put in there. The Cal-UO game in a few weeks will really clear up the top 5-6 teams in the nation.

After No. 18, it is a crapshoot. There are about 10-15 teams that one can argue deserve top a top 25 ranking. Tulsa was a team I thought about ranking, let's see how they do against OU this week. And I am still not ready to put Virginia Tech back in the top 25.


1Southern Cal 1
2LSU 1
5Penn State--
6Oregon 8
8West Virginia 1
9California 2
10Texas 4
11Wisconsin 1
12Arizona State--
13South Carolina--
14Ohio State 3
15Boston College 7
16South Florida--
17Clemson 2
18Texas A&M 5
19Georgia Tech 11
20Missouri 6
21Kentucky 5
22Alabama 4
23Louisville 8
24Cincinnati 2
25Nebraska 7

Dropped Out: Tennessee (#20), Arkansas (#21), UCLA (#24), Iowa (#25).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

College Football's Fan Nation

by nsc

I know Fresno State has a huge game coming up this weekend with a very strong Oregon team. I know many of you Bulldog fans enjoy reading the blog because of the football related content that both MDG and I provide. I know that the blog has been a great addition to my life and I have enjoyed writing it for every Bulldog (and visiting) fan out there. However, today I want to write about something that has nothing to do with the outcome of the Oregon-Fresno State football game. I would like to touch on the topic of college football and how it has become far too important in the lives of students, alumni, and even your average fan.

This past weekend in a game between Rutgers-Navy the Navy QB took a tremendous hit from the Rutgers defense. Immediately after Rutgers fans began chanting obscenities in the stands. Now many of us will just push this aside because of the fact that they are kids and that is what kids do when they are having fun. I on the other hand think that fans of this nature are becoming the norm in college football and that is something I never want to see. I understand that a big hit is big hit but there is a respect level that should be shown for those players on the football field. I believe that respect level is being ignored by so many fans today. I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of any of the players from Boise State or Hawaii but you will not hear any obscenities from my mouth towards players from those teams if they come into Fresno and lose. You will not hear me putting down these teams if they bomb in front of the Doghouse on national television. Two years ago Fresno was able to finally defeat the Broncos after four consecutive losses and around my seats all I could hear were chants of "You Suck D**k" and "Overrated Pieces of Sh**". I don't mind the overrated chant, that has become so common that I can completely ignore it. But when fans begin using obscenities like "you f**king suck", or "you suck d**k" to the other team I think they are crossing the line.

I may be preaching to the choir when it comes to my complaints of the fans in college football but I believe many of us are forgetting what we are there to do. We are at the stadium to cheer on our team to win. I do not go to Fresno State's games to put down fans who are coming in from other states or cities. I do not go to the stadium to see which fans are going to fight. I do not go to the games to find out if our fan base is louder than the other team we are playing. I go to Fresno State football games to watch our Bulldogs fight their hardest to win. I go to these games to watch our players give their all for the pride of the valley and the university. We are watching a team full of late teens and early 20's play their hearts out. For the most part each and every one of these players leaves it all on the field and for that effort alone we should respect what they do. What we as fans have to remember is it is only a game. If the Dogs knock off Boise this year t hat is great, but we will have to turn around and play them again next season. When visiting fans come into our stadium we should welcome them as friends and enjoy the competition against one another. We will have to travel to their world next season so we can only hope that they would treat us the very same as we treat them. What I have seen in Bulldog stadium leads me to believe that opposing fans are not going to be so accepting when I make the trip to their stadiums. Where I sit in the stadium (section 27) generally has a large contingent of visiting fans and I have seen some terrible things happen in Bulldog stadium. In the end all I can hope is that the Oregon fans treat me as well as I treated the Oregon family that sat in front of me in 2006.

We are watching a game and nothing more. If you do not invest your life into college football (which most of you shouldn't) then the outcome of the game may effect for the rest of the day and even on into the following week, but remember that game is not your life. Your family and your friends are your life. Football will come and go as we are able to watch it year after year. Some years will be far better than others. Just remember that the players and visiting fans all deserve the same amount of respect as you would want them to give you. If you are the type of person that likes to be treated like shi* then so be it. I hope that others treat you the way that you treat them but I ask those in Fresno's football world to be a bit more classy when it comes to visiting fans. If they are obnoxious and such then so be it, that has nothing to do with us. We can be great fans and let our football team do all of the talking for us. Even if the football team doesn't come through this year there will be next year and you can always count on that.
I want to say thank you to those who read the blog and comment on it. For me it has been a very good experience and one I would like to continue doing for the next couple of years. I hope that everyone will continue coming to the Bulldogfootballblog to read about what is going on in the Bulldog football world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fresno State-Oregon: QB and RB Comparison

by nsc

Fresno State and Oregon know one another all to well. They have played each other four times over the past seven seasons including the past three years (including this season). There will be very little that these teams can do on the field against one another that has not been done before. Fresno State has seen Dixon. Fresno State knows Dixon can move in the pocket and throw on the run. Fresno State knows Stewart and Johnson are top of the line RB's who can break off a big run at any point in the game. Fresno State knows that Dixon likes to run the spread offense and open up the field. On the other side of the ball Oregon knows Fresno State likes to run the ball. Oregon knows Fresno State likes to use play action to open up the passing lanes down field. Although Fresno State has an entire of stock of new players on the field they use the same base offense and defense that they always have. In other words I expect this to be another close Oregon-Fresno State battle.


Dennis Dixon - Fresno State is going to have watch out for Dixon who seems to have improved his accuracy downfield. Dixon has come out of the gates strong in 2007 much like he did in 2006 when he led Oregon to a 4-0 start. Dixon is fast and has a strong arm. Because of his speed defenses will have to watch out for Dixon when he gets out of the pocket. He is the type of QB that can break your heart on a third and five where the defense completely shuts down the passing lanes but allows Dixon to run for the first down. Dixon is going to get yards on the ground. He is also going to find a way to complete passes that many QB's cannot make. As Zagfan told me Dixon is one of the better playground QB's in college football and I cannot argue with that. Oregon's offense is diverse in the sense that they can both run and pass whenever they feel like it. It will take a tremendous effort from the Fresno State defensive line in order to put pressure on Dixon and make him throw the ball well before he wants to. If Fresno State can find a way to shut the passing lanes down and force Dixon to the middle of the field they will be in great shape heading into the decisive fourth quarter.

Tom Brandstater - A disastrous 2006 has not affected Brandstater in the very least coming in to 2007. Brandstater has begun the season in 2007 far and away better than he did this past season as he is completing 64% of his passes with four td's and one int. Brandstater seemed to gain confidence this past week against Texas A&M as the game progressed along. We all know Brandstater has the tools to be a great QB but it wasn't until this past weekend that he began to show those tools. No, Brandstater has not turned the corner completely and become a great college QB. It is going to take four or five good outings in succession for Brandstater to be considered one of the better QB's in the WAC but I am starting to believe that maybe Pat Hill really did know much more than all of us gave him credit for. Brandstater does not seem content with forcing the ball into terrible pass situations and aside his one int against A&M he has done a very good job managing the game. If Brandstater can continue to find his touch over the middle of the field and refrain from throwing into double coverage he will give Fresno State a chance to win this game Saturday.

QB Advantage - Because this game is in Autzen and Dixon can display both speed and an arm I feel Dixon has the advantage Saturday. However, the gap between Brandstater and opposing QB's seems to be getting smaller with each game that passes.

Running Backs

Oregon - Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson lead Oregon's three headed rushing attack which also includes Dennis Dixon who leads the team in rushing yards. Because Oregon enjoys running the spread offense more often than not their RB's are given plenty of room to run up the middle of the field. Fresno State's defense has always been quite good at stopping the run up the middle but the speed of Oregon's RB's will present a problem for the Bulldogs defense regardless of how good they play. Fresno State's secondary is light years faster than it was this past season and has a strong core group that will be able to provide run support, but if Dixon, Stewart, or Johnson break one off into the open field they are as good as gone. Dixon showed his speed in week one against Houston when he broke off an 80 yard TD on the ground. Fresno State will have to try and keep Dixon in the pocket in order to be successful against the running game of Oregon's and I am not truly sure that is possible.

Fresno State - For the Bulldogs the outlook on the running game comes down to one aspect: Health. If Lonyae Miller and Ryan Matthews are healthy and play Saturday Fresno State will have a great chance with respect to gaining yards on the ground. Miller is a strong back that rarely goes down on the first hit while Matthews is a finesse back that can take a hit while possessing great vision. Matthews seems to find the hole every time he is given the ball and is very good at following his offensive line when given the ball. Fresno State will also counter with Anthony Harding who seems to be a bruiser type running back. If the Bulldogs hope for a chance to win this game they are going to have to have Miller and Matthews in the lineup. These two RB's will give the Dogs yards on the ground each time they touch the ball and will help to quiet down the raucous crowd at Autzen. Without these two Fresno State will have to rely on passing more than they would like to and the last time that happened in Autzen the Dogs went home with a 37-34 loss.

RB Advantage - The running games are very evenly matched if Matthews and Miller play, but a huge advantage to Oregon if one of these men does not suit up for the Dogs.

Tomorrow I will cover the defenses of both teams. This game could very well come down to which defense makes the last stop. Fresno State and Oregon have shown they can play defense and we shall see if that continues when they step on the field against one another.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Time to Vote Again...

I haven't voted in the Blogpoll since November 13, 2006. Even so, my voting was sporadic at best last year. And I haven't voted in the first three polls of this season either...but I did place a vote for my preseason Top 16 (please ignore the No. 2, 7 and 10 teams, we all make mistakes, although FSU and VA Tech still have a chance at the ACC title) in the Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll.

Without further wait my Blogpoll ballot for this week. Applaud me, tear it apart, whatever...nsc will start to get involved and maybe he'll vote in next week's if he wants.

1LSU 25
2Southern Cal 24
3Florida 23
4Oklahoma 22
5Penn State 21
6Texas 20
7Rutgers 19
8Georgia Tech 18
9West Virginia 17
10Wisconsin 16
11California 15
12Arizona State 14
13South Carolina 13
14Oregon 12
15Louisville 11
16South Florida 10
17Ohio State 9
18Nebraska 8
19Clemson 7
20Tennessee 6
21Arkansas 5
22Boston College 4
23Texas A&M 3
24UCLA 2
25Iowa 1

Dropped Out:

Fresno State-Oregon: Can the Dogs Beat the Ducks?

by nsc

The Ducks opened the season with two impressive wins. While they struggled in the first half against Houston, the Ducks were able to use their running game to blow out the Cougars in the end. This past Saturday the Ducks blew out a Michigan team in Ann Arbor that I do not feel is truly that strong. I understand that Oregon runs a very diverse offense in which they allow their QB to do pretty much whatever he wants to. I understand that Dixon is one of the better schoolyard QB's in the college football game today, but the win over Michigan does not tell me that Oregon is going to wipe the Dogs off the field. Last season Oregon started out very strong early on as well as they began the season 4-0. I don't know if this is the same type of team this year around, but once again the Ducks have begun the season hot and Fresno State will have to figure out how to shut down the option offense that Oregon likes to run if they want to win this game. The one positive is that Fresno State knows Oregon well. Fresno State has played Oregon so many times over the past seven years that they mine as well call each other's plays out before they run them. The Dogs will not be surprised by the Ducks speed or their option running game as they have seen plenty of both to know exactly what to expect.

Saturday Fresno State showed us that they have gone from a slow team who could not tackle in 2006 to a speedy team who has learned how to hit and wrap up offensive players on the outside. Oregon has the outside speed that Goodsen had for TAMU and if Fresno State's corners can wrap up the Ducks RB's this will be a very competitive game. Fresno State is going to have to be able to recuperate from it's tough loss to A&M and face another top 25 team in Oregon but this team seems to have the desire and heart to get on the field and get the job done. At the same time the Dogs main cog in the defensive line will be back on the field when Shirley is welcomed back to the team. The Dogs sorely missed Shirley on the field this past Saturday as he could have been the fix for Jovorski Lane rushing up the middle of the field. While Oregon does not have the power run game that TAMU showed us, Oregon will be faster and throws the ball far better than A&M did. Dixon is not the most consistent passer when it comes to underneath or intermediate routes, but he has a great arm on the deep ball and Fresno State will have to compensate for that with great corner play throughout the game.

My main question for this blog focuses on if the Dogs can indeed upset the Ducks and I honestly think it is within our team to do so. The Dogs seem to have the tools on both offense and defense to be able to go into Eugene and knock the Ducks off. Whether they do that or not will come down to execution and how the Dogs regroup after their hard fought loss at A&M. In the past we all know the Dogs have not responded to tough luck losses well (think back to USC in 2005 and Oregon in 2006). This year the team seems far more confident that they can get the job done than they have in the past. There is a lot of youth on this team and because of that the Dogs seem content to be on the field giving their all every single week. This is not the type of team that will sit back and rest on what has happened in the past. Instead this is a team that looks as if it can turn the page and make every week an exciting football week. Fresno State will challenge Oregon. Fresno State will not lose to the Ducks by sixteen this week as the betting line suggests. Instead I am willing to bet that this game will once again come down to the final two minutes with either the Ducks or Dogs in the lead and the opposite team driving for the win. Let's just hope the refs don't have a say in this one for either team because what I have learned is it is better to let the players decide who is the better team. Fresno State and Oregon have given us some great games in the past and I see absolutely no reason why the next game in the series will be any different.

Note - The rest of the week will be dedicated to comparing what each team has on offense, defense, and special teams. This should be a very good game. Hopefully the Dogs will come out on top in the end.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Game for the Ages

by nsc

We watch college football every Saturday for countless years. It is not often that you are treated to a game like the one Fresno State and Texas A&M gave us yesterday. The Bulldogs fell behind 19-0 at halftime only to breathe life back into the program by putting up 45 second half/overtime points. Who would have thought this offense was capable of putting up 45 points in a half, or for that matter an entire game? Yesterday Fresno State showed that in 2007 they will come to play. The Dogs may not come out victorious every single game but we should not expect that from this team. The 2007 Bulldogs are a young team led by seniors such as Riley and Clutts. Quick, tell me how many starters on offense are seniors? We do not have one senior receiver nor do we have one senior running back. We have no senior tight ends. Our QB is not a senior and some of our offensive line are not seniors either. We have a very deep offensive line anyhow so the Dogs are going to be an exciting offensive unit for at least the next two years. Our new offensive coordinator should take some of the credit as he allowed TB to throw the ball in the second half. Although Brandstater under threw Ajirotutu on the deep ball the fact is that TB actually was given the opportunity to go deep. A&M did not throw the ball deep on our secondary one time and that is because the coverage was stellar. When a game like the one we watched yesterday is played there is a lot we can take from it. Some of what we can take is good while some of it is going to be bad. Here is what I feel like we should take from the game yesterday.

Positives - For the first time in a long time I think there are far more positives from this game than negatives. First let me say the heart this team showed coming back in the second half is exactly what we want in our football team. To be down the way we were at half and come back is something that we have not seen in these Bulldogs since the USC game. However, I truly feel like this team has found what they were sorely missing with respect to confidence and this game is going to lead to many exciting wins for the Dogs in the future. If you need proof in this look no further than TB's quote in which he stated "I am sick and tired of losing the close games". I think this is the type of game that tells the Dogs they can play with the big teams once again and eventually the luck is going to go our way.

I was very impressed with the play of our QB in the second half. Brandstater made so many good throws that I thought I was watching a veteran QB with two years of experience in the Bulldogs program. Oh wait a minute, I was watching that. I think Tom came a long ways yesterday and the one play the symbolized his amazing efforts would have been the play where he was knocked down and dazed. Only a series of plays letter did Tom get in there to throw an amazing TD to Pascoe to set up a chance to tie on a two point conversion. Yes, Tom needs to slide when he runs but he has heart and he is one tough kid. Did anyone notice how good our receivers hands were yesterday? I believe Moore dropped one pass in the corner and fumbled the ball into the end zone but aside those two plays I cannot recall anyone dropping anything. Moore, Ajirotutu, Crawley, Wylie, Smith, and Pascoe caught everything thrown their way (although Smith often fumbled the ball away after the catch). Ryan Matthews (although he left the game with an injury) is the kind of RB that excites all of us to see on the field. Devon Wylie is going to be a very exciting player for the Dogs and our entire secondary played off their rockers yesterday. They allowed 79 yards passing the entire game. If Shilrey is on the field yesterday the stats don't look so absurd on the ground. Overall this team played well yesterday and it looks like our defense is going to be fast, physical, and is going to make plays for us this season. Having Riley and Jacobs in there is just refreshing as they both are around the ball every play. They will make it hard on Oregon next weekend, that much is for sure.

Negatives - Every game is going to have negatives regardless of how good one team plays. The Dogs cannot come out on offense like they did yesterday against Oregon. They need the sense that the game is on the line right from the start. If the Dogs can come out and keep the game close against Oregon we might be in for another wild ride with the Ducks. Our field goal unit has not been up to par lately. Stitser missed two field goals, one of which I really feel he should have made. He is pulling everything left and we need him to start kicking the ball through the uprights. Clifotn Smith has to realize ball security is the most important aspect of college football. If he is going to contribute he cannot fumble the ball away continuously. Brandstater cannot make a mental mistake like he did when he gave up a safety. He needs to roll out or throw the ball closer to one of our receivers. Mental mistakes will kill the dogs if they don't correct them. Overall I was pleased with this team and although Moore fumbled on the one he was trying to win the game and I cannot fault someone for extra effort.

I know many of you are disappointed that we lost this game I believe this is going to lead to many great games for the Dogs. I believe this makes us a player when it comes to the WAC. Fresno State very easily could be in the mix when we travel to NMSU for the last game of the season. Let's just hope the desire and fire stays with the Dogs this season. I personally think we are about to embark on a special ride that will culminate with one hell of a 2008 season.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fresno State - Texas A&M: Quarterbacks

by nsc

I am going to have be honest right from the start with all who read the Bulldog blog. There will be very few times this season that I give Fresno State the advantage with respect to the QB situation. I realize that many of you believe in Brandstater but until he proves that he can carry this team on the field I am not going to give the Dogs the advantage in the QB area of play. With that being said Stephen McGee comes into this game as the more accomplished QB if for nothing less than his win-loss record in games he has started at Texas A&M. Without further adieu here is the comparison of the two QB's which includes what they did last season as well:

Tom Brandstater - We all know the story with this kid. Tom has the arm. Tom has the size. Tom has the quickness. But will Tom have the confidence and state of mind to succeed in College Station? When all is said and done that is exactly what it comes down to for Brandstater and the Bulldogs. Fresno State needs a team leader and Brandstater needs to be that man on offense. Brandstater will not be the guy who throws a TD and explodes with emotion like a David Carr or Trent Dilfer did in the past. Instead he is more comparable to Billy Volek who got the job done but went about it very quietly. The city of Fresno is willing to let Brandstater be the quiet leader but only if he comes through the way the Bulldogs need him to. Looking at his performance last week Brandstater played much better than he did in 2006. Brandstater completed 16 passes in 27 attempts throwing for 199 yards and one td. He would have had two td's if Marlon Moore did not fumble the ball on the one yard line. Brandstater did fumble the ball one time but he escaped pressure countless times and racked up close to fifty yards on the ground. What Brandstater will have to work on is looking off receivers. He tends to lock on far too long and if he does that against a good defensive secondary he will not be able to succeed. A&M has a young secondary so Brandstater may be able to get away with this to begin the game but he will have to change his ways fast in order to bring the Bulldogs success. If Brandstater can limit his mistakes and remember to slide when he is on the run he will have a decent game, one that gives the Bulldogs a chance in the end.

Stephen McGee - A&M has a QB who can both throw and run the ball. In 2006 McGee threw for over 2000 yards while completing over 60% of his passes. He threw twelve td's to only two int's in 2006 and also ran for over 600 yards on the season. McGee does not have the most accurate arm as he displayed last week against Montana State only completing 10 out of 20 passes for 112 yards. However, McGee ran for 121 yards on nine carries and this is where this man could kill Fresno State. Last season Fresno State faced two mobile QB's who gave the Dogs fits on defense. Steinbeck from Washington and Dixon from Oregon caused numerous problems for the Dogs as they were able to elude the rush and create opportunities that a drop back passer would not have been able to do. McGee will be able to do the same exact thing if he does not see anything he likes when he surveys the field. McGee is used to playing in big time games. Every year A&M faces schools such as Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska. Playing Fresno State is not going to be intimidating in any shape or form for this young man. If the Bulldogs want to limit his success they are going to have to find a way to contain him in the backfield. The only way to do so is to blitz early and often and to make sure that McGee does not see the field the way he likes to. Very few teams have been able to limit the success of this young man but if Fresno State wants to study the tape of a team who did a great job against McGee the Dogs might want to look at the tape of the Cal game last season. McGee is going to make plays against the Dogs, it is in his nature to do so. If Fresno State can hold McGee to fifty yards rushing and under two hundred yards passing they will be in good shape in this game. It always sounds easier on a blog than it does when it comes to game time. Regardless it will be a tough task for the Dogs.

QB Advantage - Texas A&M