Last night something amazing took place in the world of the NBA. Lebron James embarked on a mission to will his team to victory in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons. James scored an amazing 29 of the final 30 points for the Cavaliers as they left Detroit with a 109-107 victory in double overtime. Although we have seen amazing performances in the National Basketball Association before from the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and other such greats what Lebron James did last night was truly unprecedented. The reason this type of accomplishment had not be seen was due to the amount of adversity that James faced heading into this game. In game one James passed up a layup in order to give Donyell Marshall a chance to win the game with a three. In game two James could not hit the game winner putting his team in a 0-2 hole. The nation began to wonder if James could come through in the clutch. The nation began to question James under pressure and if he even wanted the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Last night with two minutes remaining the announcers of the game even went as far as to state “Will James call for the ball with the game on the line after missing his last two free throws?” The answer would be a resounding yes. You may ask what does this have to do with Fresno State Football. If you take a closer look this has everything to do with the Bulldogs and the 2007 football season.
Heading into the 2007 season Fresno State will face more adversity than they may be used to. There are so many questions about this team that have to be answered. We as fans do not know if our QB position is going to be fixed. We do not know if the defensive secondary is going to step their game up. We do not know if the defensive line is going to become that dominant force it once was. We do not know if the wide receivers are going to return to form and lead this team on the field of play. We do not know if our special teams are going to come together again to create one of the strongest units in the nation with the ability to change the outcome of the game with one play. Will the coaches step their game up and focus on what we need to do to win? Will Pat Hill open up his playbook and allow the offense more freedom within itself to create? Will Hill divert play-calling to McElwain or will he continue to call the offense the way he feels is best? With so many questions abound there is no way to ignore the adversity this team faces. However, these questions can all be answered sooner than later.
We as fans want to believe that Brandstater will become the QB we all know he can be. He has shown us that he has what could be the strongest arm to ever don a Fresno State jersey. He has shown us that he has the size and the ability to take the lead of this team. What he has not shown us is the maturity to understand the game. He has not put faith in us that he can take over a game when we so desperately need him to. Brandstater will have to face his own adversity in order to lead this team to victory this season. He has taken more abuse from fans than most players do during their career at Fresno State and he still has two seasons before he is finished. However, if Brandstater can forget what has happened in the past and face the demons that have commonly haunted him during the season he will be able to make each and every one of us forget our tragic 2006 season. Brandstater needs to realize he has an opportunity that many players take advantage of. How many times have you seen a player have a terrible season only to rebound and show that he truly is far better than the season he just showed us? It happens in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA more often than you may realize. Brandstater will have this opportunity just as the rest of the Fresno State football team will.
The defense needs to revert back to pre 2005 form. In 2004 the Bulldogs defense terrorized each team they stepped on the field with. Ask Darren Sproles of K-State what he thought of the 2004 defense. Ask Virginia what they thought of the 2004 defense. The one they will both mention is the speed that the defense was able to bring to the table. In 2007 the Bulldogs will have the opportunity to put that speed back on the field and they have to answer the call this season. The speed needs to be translated into turnovers that will help put the offense back on a short field. The adversity the defense faces is nothing new, but unlike 2006 this defense will be much more prepared to handle whatever is thrown at them due to the speed that they have added to the LB’s and secondary. The WR’s will be facing ghosts of their own as well. As Fresno State fans we realize that we need the receivers to step up and make things easier on the QB. With players such as West, Pascoe, Ajirotutu, Moore, and Crawley the Bulldogs have the players in place to give our QB that help. Whether they step up or not is up to them. Each one of these man can make a difference on the field of play, but they have to have the drive to do so.
What it all comes down to is the adversity each of these athletes face. Many players break down when the world comes down hard on them. Many athletes cannot handle the pressure of a game being put on their shoulders. The athletes of the Fresno State football team will have the opportunity to show the nation that they will not back down from whatever adversity is thrown their way. Whether 2007 is a success or not is up to the Bulldogs that step on the field of play. The only way the Bulldogs will be able to answer their adversity is to ignore what has happened in the past. The future holds an opportunity for the Bulldogs football team. The Bulldogs have a chance to start over and conquer their own adversity, and if the Bulldogs perform anywhere near how Lebron James did last night on a national stage we will all be in for a very entertaining 2007 football season.