2007 has been an interesting season to say the least. Fresno State has endured more injuries across the board than most teams in Div. 1A college football, yet they sit at 7-4 on the season. The Dogs travel to NMSU for their final game of the season this Friday with a chance to double their win total from 2006. Fresno State will play in a bowl game again this season. Fresno State's offense has pulled a complete 180 this season as they have averaged well over thirty points per game, up from 23 per game in 2006. However the biggest improvement this season has been in our signal caller. Brandstater struggled through 2006 as we all know. But what we did as fans that was not fair to Brandstater was blame him more so than everyone else on the team. We as fans felt that Brandstater was the sole reason that the Bulldogs offense failed miserably in 2006. We as fans were completely wrong. Today every single Bulldog fan should be praising Brandstater. For some reason that is not happening, at least not from what I am reading on the BarkBoard. Brandstater turned in a performance that was reminiscent of Carr in 2001 as he completed 23 out of 29 passes for 313 yards and 2 TD's with no int's against K-State this past Saturday. Somehow it still comes across as not good enough for many fans.
On Saturday Brandstater looked comfortable as he hit his receivers in stride and continually put the ball where only our receivers could catch it. At the same time the progression chart seems to have become a part of Tom's game as he would look down field for a receiver and check down to his second or third option if receiver one was not open. On one play Tom avoided a sack, spun around in a complete circle and looked up to complete a fifteen yard pass downfield. On that one play I realized that Brandstater had arrived. But the problem is Brandstater had arrived much earlier during the 2007 season, not just on Saturday. While Saturday certainly was an outstanding performance for our Junior QB this was not the first game Brandstater had done well. If we take Tom's past three games into account he has completed 51 out of 73 passes which equates to a 70% completion rate. In that same span Brandstater has accounted for nine TD's and only one int. To say one game does not make Tom a good QB is correct, but it has not been one game that Tom has been outstanding this season. It may just be me but I feel like so many of you have forgotten why we had a chance late against Hawaii. We did not come back against the Warriors because of our superior running game or our great defense. Instead our offensive passing game gave us a chance late in the second half. True our defense gave us the ball often in the second half against Hawaii but we would not have scored any points had it not been for Brandstater and his receivers. To ignore what Tom has done over the past month for this football team would be a disservice not only to Tom but to the Bulldog football team as a whole. So many have complained about the way Tom has played, but in all honesty his Junior year is on pace to match many of the numbers that David Carr put up. The most important stat (Wins) may very well pass up what Carr was able to do his junior year as well as the Dogs that season finished 7-5 with a loss to the Air Force in their bowl game.
As I stated earlier Fresno State is going to play in a bowl game to end the season. Whether that game is in Hawaii, Las Vegas, Boise, or New Mexico is yet to be determined, but Brandstater and the Bulldogs will play in a bowl game. For many Bulldogs it will be their first experience in a bowl game as most of the players on the team are Freshman and Sophomores. But the bowl experience will be one that the players can build on heading into 2008. Brandstater has done his part to make the Bulldogs a successful team this season. Tom has averaged nearly 200 yards a game for a team that leads with the run. Tom also has a completion percentage of 62% while throwing for 14 td's to only five int's. As I showed in a blog a week ago David Carr also completed 62% of his passes for 2700 yards his junior year and look what happened to Carr his senior season. If Tom can go out Friday night and perform as he has the past month I have no doubt that he will once again throw for 200-250 yards with 2-3 td's and no more than one int. If Brandstater throws for 250 yards in each of the final two games this season he will close with 2650 yards averaging over 200 yards a game. In other words Tom will be very proficient in the Bulldog offense.
All I am trying to get across to many of the Bulldog faithful is that Brandstater has become a very competent QB in our system. Saturday Tom showed that he can throw the seem pass, and he can throw it quite well at that. For those of you who focus on the pass he threw behind Harding shame on you. Why not pay attention to the twenty great throws Tom made this past Saturday and forget about the one throw he did not complete. In fact why not concentrate on how many throws Tom has made the past two games that have been close to being intercepted. Well if you try to do that then you will realize he has not made one throw that was anywhere close to being taken away. Brandstater has come full circle and we as fans should support the changes Tom has made both on and off the football field. While Brandstater has had a tough go to this point remember that David Carr's breakout game came in 2000 against the Air Force in the Silicon Valley Bowl where he threw for 388 yards and five td's with one int. If you take that game into consideration I would say Brandstater is actually ahead of where Carr was at this time seeing that Brandstater still has two games remaining before the end of the 2007 season. I am pleased with the improvement of this team and especially the improvement our QB has made this season. The Bulldogs have a chance to finish the season 9-4. If you told me during the 2006 season that next year we could go 9-4 with 28 injuries to key players I would have told you to get your head examined. Instead it looks like I have to be the one to get examined because the Bulldogs are doing exactly what we all wanted: Playing hard and getting results on the football field. In the end isn't that all we really can ask for from this team? Don't forget we are one play away from being 8-3 right now. This has been a very successful season for Fresno State and I just hope that each and every one of you realize it before the 2007 season comes to an end.