Fresno State Preview 2006 - Offense
Fresno State Bulldogs
Posted Aug 9, 2006

Fresno State Bulldogs Preview 2006 - FSU Offense

What you need to know ... There should be an excellent mix of a deep passing attack with a steady running game despite the loss of top running backs Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin along with quarterback Paul Pinegar. Dwayne Wright returns from missing most of the last two years with a knee injury to lead the ground game, and he should run wild behind Kyle Young and a tremendous offensive line. Paul Williams and Joe Fernandez form an excellent 1-2 receiving punch, but they need a steady passer to get them the ball. Quarterback options Tom Brandstater, Sean Norton, and Ryan Colburn can all bomb, but they have to prove they can be consistent.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tom Brandstater
6-13, 49 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Paul Williams (WR)
9 carries, 83 yds
Receiving: Joe Fernandez
46 catches, 561 yds, 8 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Paul Williams
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QBs Tom Brandstater and/or Sean Norton and/or freshman Ryan Colburn
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Clifton Smith
Best pro prospect: Senior C Kyle Young
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Young, 2) Williams, 3) RB Dwayne Wright
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, receiver
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback experience

Paul Pinegar wasn't always the best passer, but he upped his game in a big way over the second half of last season with five straight 300 yards games before struggling against Tulsa in the Liberty Bowl. Now it's a three man race to take over the job, and all three have enough talent to keep the nation's 25th ranked passing attack rolling. Big Tom Brandstater will get the first look at the starter spot, but smallish Sean Norton and promising freshman Ryan Colburn will get equal chances this fall.
The key to the unit: The coaching staff has to find a starter and stick with him. Keeping mistakes to a minimum will be vital early on.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Tom Brandstater, Soph. 6-13, 46%, 49 tds, 1 TD, 1 INT
A big 6-5, 220-pound bomber, Brandstater saw a little bit of time last season and has the inside line at taking over Paul Pinegar's starting job coming into this year. A high school defensive back as well as a quarterback, he has far more mobility than Pinegar and has far more upside. He has to show he can keep the mistakes to the minimum, and he has to be accurate on his deep balls to properly use the speedy receivers.

Top Backups
- Sean Norton, Soph.
Norton isn't a big presence like Tom Brandstater or Ryan Colburn, but he has the high school résumé to be considered in the starting mix. He threw for 4,067 yards and 44 touchdowns as a high school senior and is neck-and-neck-and-neck in the battle for the starting job. Even though he's only 5-11 and 175 pounds, he has a live arm and can run a little bit.
- Ryan Colburn, Fr.
A big-time passer, Colburn is 6-3 and 220 pounds with all the skills that should make him a top quarterback after he gets a little experience. He has the talent to start right away, but the coaching staff has to decided if it wants to live through all the freshman mistakes.

Running Backs
The loss of 1,313 yards and 15 touchdowns of Wendell Mathis and 536 yards and five scores of Bryson Sumlin hurts, but the return of Dwayne Wright from a knee injury that cost him most of the last two seasons. He was a star back in 2003 and looks as good as new after the time off. There's speed to help him out with Clifton Smith and Shannon Dorsey each able to pop a home run and each waiting for their turn to shine. Roshon Vercher is one of the best blocking fullbacks in the nation.
The key to the unit: Dwayne Wright needs to be the Dwayne Wright before the knee injury, while Smith and Dorsey have to combine for at least 750 yards.
Running Back Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Dwayne Wright, Jr.
 A 1,038-yard back in 2003, Wright ripped through Washington for 109 yards and a touchdown and ran for 76 yards and two scores against Kansas State in 2004 before tearing up his knee and being out of the mix for the last two seasons. While he tried to come back last year, he wasn't needs with Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin already in the backfield. Now he's back to 100% and was terrific in spring ball showing off the same old speed along with power thanks to his 220-pound frame.

- Fullback Roshon Vercher, Sr. - 4 carries, 7 yards
Vercher isn't going to see many carries and he won't catch any passes, but that's not his game. He's a next-level caliber run blocker who has been the unsung star in the backfield over the last few seasons blowing open mile-wide holes for the impressive ground attack. He's 5-11 and 245 pounds with the toughness of a linebacker.

Top Backups
- Clifton Smith, Jr. - 1 carry, 1 yard
Smith has tremendous quickness  and will serve as the team's scatback. He hasn't been able to see much work on offense, but he showed off a little of his talent in 2004 returning a punt for a 67-yard score. His brother is UCLA receiver Brandon Breazell, who's also a speedster.
- Shannon Dorsey, Jr. - 9 carries, 33 yds, 3.7 ypc, 1 catch, 16 yds
A strong runner who can do a little bit of everything, he's 205 pounds with good enough hands to be used more as a receiver. While he hasn't been able to see too much action yet, he has the speed to become a major part of the rotation.
- Fullback Nate Adams, Jr.
The 240-pound Adams will only be used as a blocker playing behind Roshon Vercher. He's a decent blocker, but he's nowhere near the same league as Vochon.

There are some key losses, but the top two receivers, Joe Fernandez and Paul Williams, return along with top backup Jaron Fairman to make this one of the WAC's better corps. Williams is a home-run hitter from anywhere on the field, while Fernandez is a steady number one target who got red-hot at the end of last year. There could stand to be more developed depth, and more is needed from Bear Pascoe and the tight ends, but this will end up being a strength.
The key to the unit: More wide receiver weapons need to emerge and more young players have to shine considering Fernandez, Williams and Fairman will be gone next year.
Receiver Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Joe Fernandez, Sr. - 46 catches, 561 yds, 12.2 ypc, 8 TD
The team's leading receiver last season, Fernandez isn't always flashy, but he has a great blend of speed, experience and hands. He's a precise route runner who grew into a scorer with a hot final four games when he scored six of his eight touchdowns and had a career game against Nevada catching nine passes for 150 yards and a score. He'll be the number one go-to target.

- Paul Williams, Sr. - 43 catches, 729 yds, 17 ypc, 7 TD, 9 carries, 83 yds, 1 TD
A first-team All-WAC performer last year, the 6-2, 210-pound playmaker led the league in yards per catch and also showed off his explosiveness as a runner. It took a little while to get rolling despite a 5-catch, 122-yard, one touchdown performance against Oregon, but when the second half of the season kicked in, so did Williams. He came up with one of the highlights of the WAC season with a 99-yard touchdown catch against Boise State.

- Tight end Bear Pascoe, Soph. - 5 catches, 34 yds, 6.8 ypc
The former star quarterback recruit quickly made the move to tight end where he started nine games last year being used mostly as a blocker. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, he's a big, physical presence who should fit in perfectly once he gets all the ins and outs of the job. 

Top Backups
- Jaron Fairman, Sr. - 26 catches, 348 yds, 13.4 ypc, 2 TD
As good a backup receiver as any in the WAC, Fairman is a quick, precise route runner who has been great as a third wideout as well as a top special teamer. He was steady throughout last year and then had his best game of the season in the Liberty Bowl loss to Tulsa catching six passes for 73 yards.
- Seyi Ajirotutu, RFr.
One of the team's bright young offensive stars, the 6-3, 200-pound speedster caught 77 passes and scored 17 times as a high school senior and was also a top defensive back. He should be great this year behind Paul Williams.
- Tight end Jesus Tapia, Jr. - 1 catch, 6 yds
A tall, athletic target who should grow into more of a prime target in the offense, Tapia hasn't been able to be more than a backup so far. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, he has the size to go along with the hands and quickness, and he can block. Now he has to put it all together behind starter Bear Pascoe.

Offensive Linemen
The line will be one of the best in the WAC anchored by All-America candidate Kyle Young at center and with steady young guards Ryan Wendell and Cole Popovich on the inside. The tackles are average, but they'll be fine with Chris Denman back for his fourth year as the starter and Bobby Lepori and Adam McDowell combining to take over for Dartangon Shack on the left side.
The key to the unit: Pass protection will continue to be the number one job. After allowing a mere 14 sacks last year, the line will have to be just as good with a new quarterback under center who'll need time to get his feet wet.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- OT Bobby Lepori, Soph.
Lepori is a tall, athletic prospect on the right side who needs to prove he can be a consistent pass protector right away. Starting on the left side, the faster he develops into the starting role in place of All-WAC star Dartangon Shack, the better the offense will be.
- OG Ryan Wendell, Jr.
While a bit undersized at 6-2 and 275 pounds, Wendell has the potential to be one of the line's top players after two solid seasons. He was a Freshman All-American in 2004 and was solid last season doing his best work as a pass protector.
- C Kyle Young, Sr.
One of the best centers in America, the 6-6, 330-pound senior has next-level potential at guard if he doesn't end up earning a ton of money at center. He's a smart quarterback for the line who's dominant in all phases. With his size, strength and talent, he's in a salary drive this year and should end up with several All-America honors.
- OG Cole Popovich, Soph.
One of the WAC's best young linemen, the 6-2, 285-pound Popovich was a Freshman All-American last season starting every game at left guard. Despite his youth and even though he was a top recruit, he was surprisingly consistent and should be an All-WAC performer for the next three years.
- OT Chris Denman, Sr.
The former walk-on has grown into a rock on the line with 32 straight starts. While he's not going to blast anyone, he's a fantastic pass protector with a motor that's always running for the ground game. After starting his FSU career as a defensive lineman, he has brought that mentality to the offensive side and it has served him well.

Top Backups
- OT Adam McDowell. Soph.
A step behind Bobby Lepori in the battle to replace Dartangon Shack at left tackle, McDowell will see plenty of time in the rotation if he doesn't end up winning the starting job. He moves extremely well for a 285 pounder.
- G Richard Pacheco, Soph.
He has a ton of talent, but it'll be hard for the 6-2, 285-pound sophomore to see too much time with the backup right guard job behind Cole Popovich. He's a strong run blocker who should be an excellent reserve at either guard spot.

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