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.


Anonymous said...

As a Duck fan visiting your blog, just wanted you to know I think you are right on about the Oregon personnel, so I feel I can trust you assessment of the FSU guys. Good job

nsc said...

wow thats great to hear from a ducks fan. I really do think you have a great team and we will have to do so much to keep the game in reach, but its always possible. I have to be optimistic about my dogs. Thanks for the message.

Jodi said...

If both your RB's play it sounds like you think Oregon doesn't have an advantage at RB???
Only because Dixon is playing at home he grades out better than Brandstater??
I may be a Duck fan but you are the one smoking something.

Will said...

Another duck fan... I just want to point out that you keep mentioning the Bulldogs needing to close down the pocket to force Dixon into this or that... Pretty sure Dixon doesn't end up in a pocket mostly when he's taking the ball Shotgun 90% of the time. That's one of the reasons he can juke oncoming defense so easily (well that and he's got good vision and lightning speed).

Anonymous said...

I'm a duck fan, but you'd have to be smoking something pretty serious (hey, it is the valley) to think that Fresno State's running backs are even in the same ballpark as the Oregon running backs.

Anonymous said...

I'm a duck fan, but you'd have to be smoking something pretty serious (hey, it is the valley) to think that Fresno State's running backs are even in the same ballpark as the Oregon running backs.

it's about the matchups...Oregon's D is giving up 229 rush ypg, the Bulldogs have the talent to reach that...on the other hand, Johnson didn't have a spectacular game last year against a relatively slow Fresno State defense...Stewart brings more to the table but is the not the bruiser Javorskie Lane is...the Bulldogs D is faster this year and only hand trouble taming the 290lb Lane without the services of 6-5, 330 DT Jason Shirley...and finally, you have not seen Bulldog Fr. RB Ryan Mathews, he is a special talent...he led the nation in rushing last year with over 3,300 yards and scored 44 tds...he has backed it up by leading the 'Dogs in rushing the first two games...

No one is saying FS has the advantage...just saying the matchups are close if FS's backs are healthy

geez, it seems Oregon fans believe the Ducks are the best team in the nation every year they play Fresno State and the 'Dogs don't have a prayer against the superior Duck talent...but every year, the "lowly" Bulldog talent takes the Ducks to the wire...UO has yet to "blow-out" the Bulldogs, we'll see what happens this year

Anonymous said...

"geez, it seems Oregon fans believe the Ducks are the best team in the nation every year they play"

And Fresno fans are consistently the most hyperbolic, whiny, passive aggressive (Oh, well, I guess don't stand a chance against the greatest college football team of all time) twits in all NCAA football fandom.

Anonymous said...

First, Johnson had a solid game last year, averaging the same amount of yards per carry as your beloved Wright (http://sports-ak.espn.go.com/ncf/boxscore?gameId=262520278).
Also, how can we forget this little number (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E383fOCduA) . Also, Stewart is one of the top backs in the nation, and this isn't fandom talking, this is national consensus. He doesn't go down on the first hit, and judging by that video above, it's gonna take a lot of people to bring down our backs all day.

No one is saying the the Ducks are the best team in the nation. What were are saying is that the Ducks have superior talent at just about every position. Go look at what duck fans are saying (http://www.addictedtoquack.com/story/2007/9/12/21428/1439). Duck fans don't want to play Fresno State because this is (sadly) your entire season. Win your conference consistently, which you would be able to do if you didn't have a whining baby for a coach and had the talent that you say you have. We expect a fight from FSU, but we know what's coming. But fight can only take you so far.

TJ said...

As a Fresno State fan, I think you have to have a lot of respect for Oregon, since they've actually made the trip to Bulldog Stadium. I'm interested to see how this game turns out, because Fresno looked really good in the 2nd half and OT of the Texas A&M game. And since Michigan decided to collapse, Oregon remains relatively untested. However, I think Oregon is clearly a step above Texas A&M, so Fresno will need a complete game.

MB said...

Hey Oregon Fan,

nsc posted his opinion of the matchups, you contend they are not correct and thats fine. Its an opinion.

With the way your run D has looked the FSU Backs have a chance to do some damage. That doesnt mean they are more talented, stronger, or faster than Johnson or Stewart. It means they may be able to keep pace statistically.

Finally, we get it, you have the fastest QB with the best moves and a lethal arm, the best RB tandem in America, your WR group is the mpst feared because of size and speed, your return guys are most elusive, your defense has the hardest hitters, your O line is the most physically imposing.

Why should FSU even show up? Furthermore, with that type of team I have a hard time seeing you even lose a game all year.

We all have thoughts on personnel and matchups, and there is no right and wrong in many of those instances.

This comment has been removed by the author.

Look, I know we all have rose colored glasses, but to put the FSU running backs squarely in the same catagory with Stewart & Johnson makes me wonder if your frontal labotomy was with the lowest bidder.

Don't get me wrong, UO's run defense is horrible and those FSU backs may well outgain the UO backs, but they are not nearly the same skill level. I mean we're talking two UO RB's that each have a better than 70% chance of playing on Sundays and two FSU backs with an equally good chance of selling women's shoes in malls on Sundays.

Anonymous said...

No one is even saying that the Ducks are the best team on the west coast let alone the nation.Yes,you do have more talent, but most of that talent is CALIFORNIA GROWN!!!

nsc said...

I have a question for all Duck fans who have added their input here. Have you seen our RB's play? Do you even know who they are? Do you know their strengths and weaknesses? I am sorry but there is no way the answer is yes (one is a true freshman from our little old valley). I have seen your RB's. I have seen what you have to offer us. If you had a freshman running back who had talent as Matthews does you would be touting him the way I do. Why is it wrong to think that these RB's are even? I didn't say they are even talent wise did I? I didn't say skill wise they are either. However, in the scheme of this game they could be very even. You run D is nothing to write home about and honestly ours is suspect as well. So where am I wrong for stating the facts? I did the research, I used the numbers and that is my opinion. I write one of the most unbiases blogs when it comes to other teams. Hell I said we would lose 38-17 last week. So what is the problem exactly? Is it that I said Dixon is explosive or that any one of your RB's can break off a long run at any given time? That to me sounds like respect. If you don't want it then I will stop giving it.

Anonymous said...

Is this an FSU blog site? why are we defending what we write on here to Duck fans?


mdg said...

unlike some Pac-10 fans, the FSFB tries its best to respect visiting fans

some of Oregon's best rbs of the last 15 years have come from the Valley...Ricky Whittle, Reuben Droughns, Maurice Morris (via FCC, originally from East Coast)

and the top rb in the Valley last year was HS AA Ryan Mathews, who happened to lead the nation in rushing in 2006. Miller was a 3-star recruit, who flew under the radar but still had his share of Pac-10 offers. To say these guys have a better chance of selling women's shoes is a bit of a stretch, even for a bitter Duck fan to admit. As well, Clifton Smith was a 3-star recruit and rivals had Anthony Harding listed as a three-star too.

They don't compare to Stewart's 5 stars and Fr. Malachi Lewis was also highly rated. But FS has more active RBs (3) in the NFL than UO (2). So I guess one can argue a FS back is more likely to play in the NFL while an UO back is more likely to be selling women's shoes?

Anonymous said...

"Why should FSU even show up? Furthermore, with that type of team I have a hard time seeing you even lose a game all year."

That's what I'm talking about... weak stuff.


Yes, I have watched the FSU running backs. They play hard but are not close to the talent of the UO backs. That's not to say they're no good, but they simply don't have the talent level. If they did, they wouldn't be at FSU.

Anonymous said...

geez, it seems Oregon fans believe the Ducks are the best team in the nation every year they play Fresno State and the 'Dogs don't have a prayer against the superior Duck talent...but every year, the "lowly" Bulldog talent takes the Ducks to the wire...UO has yet to "blow-out" the Bulldogs, we'll see what happens this year

LOL, I guess you saw what happened this year! Thanks for playing though.


FSU is a much better team than their play yeaterday. But man oh man did they get their asses beat into the ground- offense, defense, coaching, cheerleading....

It's happened to us before and it hurts. I think Oregon has arrived. Prior to the season I was thinking a 5 loss year. Now, I'm upgrading that to a 2 or 3 loss season.

As for FSU, I am convinced they will have awinning season and go to a bowl game somewhere.

phil said...

I can't believe that Utah, Michigan, and Fresno State are as bad as they looked when they played the ducks. Rather, Oregon has a good team that get's other teams down with their offense, and doesn't let up.

I will root for Freso State the rest of their season, but doubt they will make a bowl game.

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