2007 Fresno State Preview

Posted Jul 16, 2007

Preview 2007 Fresno State Bulldogs

Fresno State Bulldogs

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Fresno State Offense Preview | 2007 Fresno State Defense Preview
- 2007 Fresno State Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN Fresno State Preview 

It might not be the worst thing in the world to fly under the radar and be somewhat quiet on a national scale for a little while, just to tone down the overall expectations a bit. Among the nation’s biggest disappointments last season, Fresno State now has the type of team that could come from out of nowhere to win the WAC title.

Head coach: Pat Hill
11th year: 76-51
Returning Lettermen: 47
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best FSU Players
1. DE Tyler Clutts, Sr.
2. TE Bear Pascoe, Jr.
3. OG Cole Popovich, Jr.
4. QB Tom Brandstater, Jr.
5. LB Ahijah Lane, Sr.
6. PK Clint Stitser, Sr.
7. WR Chastin West, Soph.
8. CB Damon Jenkins, Sr.
9. NT Jason Shirley, Sr.
10. QB Ryan Colburn, RFr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6

Sept. 1

Sacramento State

Sept. 8

at Texas A&M

Sept. 15

at Oregon

Sept. 29

Louisiana Tech

Oct. 6

at Nevada

Oct. 13

at Idaho

Oct. 20

San Jose State

Oct. 26

Boise State

Nov. 3

Utah State

Nov. 10

at Hawaii

Nov. 24

Kansas State

Dec. 1

at New Mexico St

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record:
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/1 Nevada W 28-19
9/9 Oregon L 31-24
9/16 at Washington L 21-20
9/30 Colorado State L 35-23
10/7 at Utah State L 13-12
10/14 Hawaii L 68-37
10/21 at LSU L 38-6
11/1 at Boise State L 45-21
11/11 New Mexico St W 23-18
11/18 Idaho W 34-0
11/24 at La Tech W 34-27
12/2 at San Jose St L 24-14

Head coach Pat Hill has never been one to shy away from the spotlight in the promotion of his program, and you can’t blame him for wanting to make some noise when things were going well. A coach is supposed to be proud of his team and bring on all the attention possible, especially at a place like Fresno State. But with all the desire to be a national player and all the work being done to be competitive with the elite of the elite, just being the WAC champion would suffice for now.

On straight athleticism and talent, Fresno State had as much as anyone in the WAC last season, so how did things go in the tank so quickly? Has Hill created the type of environment and a mindset that’s so geared toward national success that when the BCS dreams are gone, like they were early last year after heartbreaking losses to Oregon and Washington, the team mentally checks out? There was no excuse to lose to Colorado State, and the 13-12 disaster against Utah State was arguably the worst defeat in college football last year.

The program needs to use the always-tough non-conference schedule as a way to tune up for the WAC schedule, rather than the other way around. After ten years under Hill, it’s time Fresno State became Boise State and became a yearly WAC champion first, and then let the chips fall where they may when it comes to the national love.

This team has the potential to make a big comeback, given its athleticism, talent and overall experience, and may have what it takes to get over the hump and be the conference champion. Considering how the program is sliding, and how much better the conference is, there’s nothing wrong with being the WAC champion. 

What to watch for on offense: Can the passing game come back? Under Hill, the Bulldogs have been best when they established the running game, and then hit the home run with the passing attack. After leading a one-dimensional offense last year with nothing through the air, QB Tom Brandstater has to be more consistent and must keep up the pace in WAC shootouts.

What to watch for on defense: Sacks. Getting to the quarterback isn’t a problem in Fresno State’s attacking style, but giving up big plays is. The stunningly bad secondary has to play far better to allow the defensive front seven to pin its ears back and get into the backfield. Don’t expect the D to stop being aggressive, or to stop trying to dictate the tempo.

The team will be far better if … Brandstater comes up with a far better season. He has all the tools to be yet another elite Fresno State quarterback, and now he has to use them. The interceptions have to go down, the touchdown passes have to go up, and the deep passes have to be more frequent. To start, just getting the completion percentage up around 60% would be nice. He was strong all spring and appears to have turned a corner. Of course, that was in practice.

The Schedule: The Bulldogs, as always, aren’t shy about playing the tougher teams. The opener against Sacramento State is forgivable, considering four of the next five games are on the road, including back-to-back dates against Texas A&M and Oregon. To add to the nasty non-conference mix, Kansas State comes to Fresno in late November. A nice stretch of three home games over the second half of the year includes San Jose State and Boise State, but a trip to Hawaii will likely make or break Fresno State’s WAC title hopes.

Best Offensive Player: Junior TE Bear Pascoe. While he wasn’t the superstar, do-it-all tight end many thought he’d be, he finished second on the team in catches with 22 grabs for 307 yards and two touchdowns, in an awful passing offense. The former star quarterback recruit is 6-5 and 260 pounds, with the talent to be a weapon if used correctly.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Tyler Clutts. The former linebacker was a terror in opposing backfields as a sophomore and came up with five sacks as a junior. While he’s too athletic not to be more active and get in on more running plays, all will be fine if he keeps hitting the quarterback.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Tom Brandstater. He has the talent, a big arm, 6-5, 220-pound size, and the tools to be special. Now he just has to prove he can be above average. Sean Norton, the only viable competition for the job, transferred to Northern Arizona, so either newcomer Ryan Colburn, a lefty with a jaw-dropping arm, has to be great right away, or the season rides on Brandstater.

The season will be a success if ... Fresno State finally wins the WAC title. It shouldn’t take too much tweaking for the offense to be much, much better, and the defense has the athletes to handle most of the top WAC offenses. Winning one of the tough non-conference games would be nice, but beating San Jose State, Boise State, and Hawaii, and earning the program’s first WAC title since 1999, would be a significant step forward in the Pat Hill era.

Key game: Oct. 26 vs. Boise State. The huge game at Hawaii won’t mean much if the Bulldogs can’t first handle the league’s 300-pound gorilla. Fresno has lost five of the last six in the series, but with the game at home, it might be able to reverse the trend.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Field goals: Fresno State 11 of 16; Opponents 4 of 6
- Interceptions thrown: Fresno State 15; Opponents 5
- Punt return average: Fresno State 8.2; Opponents 15.8


Related Stories
2007 Fresno State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2007
2007 Fresno State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2007
2007 Fresno State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 16, 2007

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