Fresno State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Fresno State Bulldogs
Posted Aug 9, 2006

Fresno State Bulldogs Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – “Anytime, Anywhere?  How about “Finish”? – On an electric night in Fresno, the Valley was amped for the arrival of the Boise State Broncos and the opportunity to knock the four time WAC champions off their perch.  Consequently, the game wasn’t even that exciting, well, for non-Fresno State fans, as the Bulldogs dominated the game from mid-first quarter on and won going away.  After the rout of Boise State, Fresno State almost rocked the college football landscape with a monumental upset of USC.  In some circles, that game was a win for the Bulldogs.  But, it was the last one of the season.  Loss at Nevada.  Loss at home against Louisiana Tech.  Loss in the Liberty Bowl to former WAC member Tulsa.  The mysterious three game slide seemed like more aberration, than 100% fact, but for the fifth consecutive season, the Bulldogs finished out of the money, so to speak, letting the WAC title slip through their collective fingers.  For as good as Pat Hill’s team has been, invoking the “anytime, anywhere” team motto, they’ve not been able to shut the door on a WAC title.  After that rousing win over Boise, the defense gave up an average of nearly 40 points per game.  Before the USC game, the Bulldogs had given up an average of just under 18 points per game (10 points per game in the WAC).  A special season, separated by two narrow defeats to Pac-10 powers, went down the tubes as fast as you could say “Boise State, WAC champs” (again).  The Bulldogs have garnered a ton of respect for the way that they play the game, but it’s time to finish the deal.  It won’t just be knocking off Boise State up in Boise.  It won’t be taking down Idaho at home.  It won’t just be shutting down Hawaii in Fresno.  This time, the pressure is to “finish”.  Finish the season.  Finish the game.  Finish as champions.

2nd and Seven – Five Studs – When thinking about some of the best offensive lines throughout the nation last season, many people would look to the West coast and the USC Trojans.  Not many gave much thought to look north to the offensive line at Fresno State.  Big mistake.  Sure, on a national level, Ryan Young, Ryan Wendell, Cole Popovich and Chris Denman may not have been as well-known as the Trojans to the south, but they were arguably one of the most underrated lines in the nation (include graduate Dartangon Shack as well).  The good news for Hill, new QB Tom Brandstater and RB Dwayne Wright is that the foursome noted above returns for another year of 2,100+ rushing yards and single digit sacks (okay, so that’s a goal that they didn’t get just yet – 14 last year).  Young is the leader of the line and could very well be the best center in the nation.  There are few offensive lines that can stand in there and go toe to toe with any defense in the nation, mashing the ball right down everyone’s throat play in and play out.  Fresno State has one of them.  Even if you don’t know who they are.

3rd and Three – Heading South…fast – Where did the defense go after the Boise State game?  Maybe this is the question of the year.  Here was a team with some of the best defensive talent in the WAC – Garrett McIntyre, Richard Marshall, emerging Tyler Clutts and corner Marcus McCauley.  They were giving up less than 11 points per game in the WAC.  They played hard.  They looked to hit people.  They blitzed and got after it.  Then, after Reggie Bush embarrassed them for 513 total yards in LA, the sky fell in.  So, can the Bulldog defense recover from the shellacking that they received?  Don’t expect defensive coordinator Dan Brown to back off on his philosophy, staying aggressive and putting maximum pressure on offenses for 65 plays a game, to make amends.  Some things just won’t change, that we know for sure.

4th and One – The Prototype – Last year’s star corner Richard Marshall might’ve gotten all of the attention from the NFL scouts and the college football pundits, but, ultimately, the corner on the opposite side, Marcus McCauley could end up being even better by the time his career is complete.  At 6’1” and 205 pounds, McCauley has the size that most corners don’t have.  He was second team All-WAC last season and is considered one of the best cover corners on the West coast.  In a conference like the WAC, he’ll get tested; teams can’t afford to close down one side of the field.  Unfortunately for them, they’ll battle of one of the best.  A guy who’ll be playing on Sundays soon.

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