What you need to know ... The Fresno State defense led the
WAC in every appreciable category last year and will be close to
as good despite the loss of three All-WAC stars in DT Garrett
McIntyre, CB Richard Marshall, and FS Tyrone Culver. The
linebacking corps will be the early strength for the
ultra-aggressive D with Dwayne Andrews certain to be in the hunt
for WAC Defensive Player of the Year. The secondary will be
great after the two open spots are secures, and the line should
be better against the run with a pair of 330 pounders at tackle.
Tyler Clutts, 7
Interceptions: Several at 1
Star of the defense: Senior LB Dwayne Andrews
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior CB
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DE Jason Roberts
Best pro prospect: Senior CB Marcus McCauley
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Andrews, 2) McCauley, 3) DE Tyler Clutts
Strength of the defense: Experience, linebacker
Weakness of the defense:
Giving up rushing touchdowns
WAC Defensive Player of the Year Garrett
McIntyre is gone, but the line is still loaded. There isn't an active
tackle to replace him, but the middle of the line will be
huge with 330-pound Louis Leonard moving from the nose to McIntyre's old
spot, and 330-pound Jason Shirley taking over on the nose. Tyler Clutts
is an unsung pass rusher who should earn All-WAC honors at one end, while Marlon Brisco is overdue to start
performing on the other side.
The key to the unit: Hope for Jason Shirley and Charles Tolbert
to be good at tackle and get another healthy, full season out of Louis
Defensive Line Rating: 6.5
- DE Marlon Brisco, Sr. - 19 tackles, 1 TFL
While he didn't have the big year expected of him, he was still a decent
defender against the run. He has enough talent and skill to get in the
backfield, but it hasn't happened yet. After bulking up to 260 pounds,
he should be even more of a presence up front.
- DT Louis Leonard, Sr. - 26 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4.5 TFL, 2
broken up passes
Finally, Leonard was able to stay healthy and he blossomed as a rock in
the middle of the line. At 330 pounds, he's a huge force with a little
bit of quickness to get into the backfield. If he can avoid the nagging
injuries, he should bust through and be an All-WAC performer. With
Garrett McIntyre gone, Leonard will move from the nose to defensive
- NT Jason Shirley, Jr. - 14 tackles, 4 TFL
At 6-5 and 330 pounds, he's a monster on the nose with the potential to
become an anchor on the nose. He hit the weights over the last few years
turning into a strong player and not just a big body, and now he should
shine with all the attention paid to the rest of the line.
- DE Tyler Clutts, Jr. - 52 tackles, 7 sacks, 12 TFL, 3 broken up
The former linebacker bulked up and became a whale of a sackmaster last
season tying for the team lead while finishing fifth on the team in
tackles. Now he's up to 245 pounds and should be even more physical and
more of a force in the backfield.
- DE Ikenna Ike, Soph. - 14 tackles, 4 sacks, 3.5 TFL
A bigger option than Tyler Clutts at one of the end spots, the 255-pound
sophomore will be more of a factor after a decent first year as a
reserve. He has the quickness to grow into a top pass rusher.
- DT Charles Tolbert, Jr. - 8 tackles, 1 sack
While not all that big at 5-11 and 265 pounds, he's strong for his size
and will provide a smaller, quicker option than Louis Leonard at tackle.
He's like a linebacker playing on the inside.
- DE Jason Roberts, Soph.
The Washington State transfer will see time behind Marlon Brisco. He's
6-5 and 250 pounds with a world of upside, but he's still needs a little
polish and has to prove he can be consistent against the run.
All three starters return led by All-WAC star
Dwayne Andrews in the middle. Marcus Riley and Alan Goodwin are talented
veterans on the outside, and now they have to be stronger against the
run as well as more disruptive in the backfield. The depth is waiting in
the wings with Quaadir Brown and Ahijah Lane bringing even more speed to
the mix, and JUCO transfer Trevor Shamblee ready to play right away.
The key to the unit: All the experience has to
translate into more overall production. The starting three is really,
really good, but it can be special.
Linebacker Rating: 6.5
- Marcus Riley, Jr. - 52 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 broken up
Riley used to be a way undersized defender on the outside, but now he's
up to 220 pounds and should be more effective against the run. He's has
the quickness to be like another defensive back against the pass as well
as a disruptive force in the backfield. Expect him to be even more of a
terror for quarterbacks. He was one of the team's top tacklers before
getting banged up at the end of the year.
- Dwayne Andrews, Sr. - 71 tackles, 7.5 TFL
The team's leading returning tackler in each of the last two seasons,
the 240-pound senior has 174 career tackles and became better at getting
into the backfield last year. He's a big rock against the run in the
middle and one of the team's steadiest defenders.
Alan Goodwin, Sr. - 58 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 interception
The 220-pound senior is a huge hitter on the outside. He had a great
season as the full-time starter finishing fourth on the team in tackles
and becoming strong against the run. With his experience and his range,
he has the potential to become an All-WAC performer.
- Quaadir Brown, Soph. - 16 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL
Part running back, part linebacker when he came to Fresno State, the
210-pound true sophomore is still working on becoming a physical
defender on the outside. His speed makes him a natural pass rusher
who'll be asked to get in the backfield when he gets time behind Marcus
- Ahijah Lane, Jr. - 12 tackles, 2 sacks. 4 TFL
While he's not going to push Dwayne Andrews for the starting job the
225-pound junior is more than good enough to take over if injuries
strike. He's a good special teamer with enough range to see time on the
outside if needed.
The WAC's best pass defense won't slip too
much if speedy Elgin Simmons and Damon Jenkins can combine to replace
Richard Marshall, who left a year early to go to the NFL. Marcus
McCauley is a next-level caliber corner who'll shine as the team's
number one man, while big-hitting Josh Sherley and speedy senior Vincent
Mays are good safeties who'll have big seasons. The depth is young and
inexperienced, but very, very athletic.
The key to the unit: More interceptions. The Bulldogs
only picked off nine passes last year with Richard Marshall snagging
three of them.
Secondary Rating: 7
- CB Marcus McCauley, Sr. - 45 tackles, 2 TFL, 1
interception, 7 broken up passes
A true shut-down corner, the 6-1, 205-pound senior will be even more
vital to the secondary now that Richard Marshall is gone. He has been a
strong starter over the last two seasons growing into an excellent open
field tackler to go along with the speed and the 6-1, 205-pound size to
get a long look from the next level scouts.
- SS Josh Sherley, Sr. - 51 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 broken up pass
A huge hitter who finished seventh on the team in stops in his first
season as a starter. He didn't make enough plays against the pass and
didn't get in the backfield as much as he should've, but he's an
intimidating force who should get more of a reputation this year.
- FS Vincent Mays, Sr. - 21 tackles, 1 TFL
A strong running back prospect when he came to Fresno State, Mays has
the speed and the overall experience to shine in place of All-WAC star
Tyrone Culver at free safety. He has the size and speed to play either
safety position. Considering the hopes when he came to the program, he
needs to produce.
- CB Elgin Simmons, Sr. - 5 tackles
While he hasn't done much of anything yet on defense, he has the speed
to be a decent replacement for Richard Marshall. If he's not the team's
fastest player, he's in the top three, but that doesn't mean he's a lock
for the job with Damon Jenkins pushing for time.
Damon Jenkins, Jr. - 8 tackles
A superstar recruit a few years ago, Jenkins is overdue do breakout and
become a factor in the secondary. He's not as fast as Elgin Simmons, but
he's bigger. The two will battle in the fall for the starting job.
- FS Marvin Haynes, RFr.
With excellent athleticism and big-time upside, it's only a matter of
time before Haynes sees time at one of the safety spots. He'll start out
behind Vincent Mays at free safety, but he could end up playing strong
Clint Stitser is on the verge of being an All-WAC kicker
with a monster leg and good consistency. Mike Lingua is a serviceable
punter who plays his role well enough to not allow the FSU punting game
to be a problem. The big issue will be replacing Adam Jennings, who
averaged 12.4 yards per punt return and 29 yards per kickoff return. Joe
Fernandez averaged 22.6 yards on his five punt returns, but Clifton
Smith, the likely main man, averaged 63 taking two of his three tries
for a score. Fernandez will handle the kickoff returns.
The key to the unit:
As long as Stitser is the kicker he was before getting
hurt and the new returners are as steady as Adam Jennings, this might be
the WAC's best special teams unit.
Special Teams Rating: 9
- PK Clint Stitser, Jr. - 10-12 FGs, 29-30 extra points
Stitser was on his way to a big season before getting hurt. He has a
strong leg hitting two shots from beyond 40 yards, and he only missed
one field goal attempt inside the 50. He's the strongest kicker in FSU
history benching 365 pounds and squatting 500.
- P Mike Lingua, Jr. - 35 punts, 1,230 yards, 35.1 yards per
kick, 15 inside the 20
Lingua is a low-risk, low-reward kicker. He doesn't bomb the ball, but
he's great at forcing the fair catch and putting the ball inside the 20.
He's also strong at preventing big plays finishing second in the WAC in