2007 Fresno State Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 16, 2007

Preview 2007 Fresno State Bulldog Offense Preview

Fresno State Bulldogs

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know: New offensive coordinator Jim McElwain will pump some life into a stagnant passing game with a wide-open attack featuring some funky, multi-receiver formations while not running quite as much. Call it playing to the strengths, as the receiving corps is lightning fast, but untested, while Tom Brandstater, who struggled mightily last year, is still a talent who appears ready to make a big jump and become a major player. The running game will suffer without Dwayne Wright, but Lonyae Wright and Clifton Smith should be decent. The line is the strength of the team with four starters returning to a group that allowed just 12 sacks.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tom Brandstater
146-268, 1,490 yds, 13 TD, 14 INT
Rushing: Lonyae Miller
54 carries, 287 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Chastin West
33 catches, 365 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Tom Brandstater
Player that has to step up and become a star: Brandstater & Sophomore RB Lonyae Miller
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Marlon Moore
Best pro prospect: Junior TE Bear Pascoe
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pascoe, 2) OG Cole Popovich, 3) Brandstater
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, receiver speed
Weakness of the offense:
Running back, proven quarterback production

Projected Starter
6-5, 220-pound junior Tom Brandstater was supposed to be the next great Fresno State quarterback with tremendous mobility, a great arm, and all the measurables and talent to become a star. It hasn't happened yet. He struggled mightily, and was often the scapegoat for the lousy season with 14 interceptions and 13 touchdown passes. The hope is for last year to be a step back to take a major leap forward. Now he has to be more consistent, more accurate, and far, far better against the defenses with a pulse. He has the tools to do it, and if he keeps his mistakes to a minimum, he has the potential for a major turnaround year.

Projected Top Reserve: 6-3, 220-pound redshirt freshman Ryan Colburn looked strong enough this spring to take over the number two job, and possible push Brandstarter if there's a repeat of last year. At 6-3 and 220 pounds, he's a big, pure passer who almost got to see time last year, but was able to redshirt. Don't expect much running. His job will be to bomb away.

Watch Out For ... Colburn to be everyone's favorite quarterback. Everyone likes the backup, and if Brandstater struggles in early games against Texas A&M and Oregon, there will be a quarterback controversy.
Strength: Arms. Brandstater and Colburn can throw it a mile. Considering all the speed at receiver, pushing the ball deep won't be a problem.
Weakness: Backups if both Brandstater and Colburn aren't solid. Sean Norton wasn't bad reserve, but the writing was on the wall that Colburn was going to be the future, so he transferred to Northern Arizona. There has to be more production than last year.
Outlook: Even after all the problems and all the issues from last year, Brandstater was more relaxed and far better throughout spring ball. He has taken his lumps, and now should be better for it. Still only a junior, he has plenty of time to make amends. Colburn is a great looking prospect who might see time even if Brandstater shines. Expect a much better year from the position.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters
5-11, 215-pound sophomore Lonyae Miller was second on the team with 287 rushing yards and two touchdowns averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Now the he'll get the first shot at the starting job after playing well in spring ball showing a good mix of speed, power, and production. Can he be a workhorse? The most work he got last year was a mere 16 carries in the blowout loss to Hawaii.

6-0, 250-pound sophomore Reynard Camp has gotten into better shape and now has to fill in at fullback when the offense uses on. Normally, a second tight end, third receiver or an H-Back gets the work, but Camp should see plenty of action as a blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: Is Clifton Smith ready? One of the team's most exciting players a few years ago, he tore up his knee in 2005 and hasn't been the same since. He only got one carry for four yards last year as he tried to get back into the swing of things, and now he'll have to find his flash to replace the power of Dwayne Wright. He'll be part of a rotation, but he'll have to be the main man to make the offense explode.

Senior Nate Adams appeared to be all set to start before getting hurt in spring ball. At 5-11 and 240 pounds, he's smaller than Camp but is a strong blocker. It'll be a shock if he gets more than a few carries or catches.

Watch Out For ... Miller and Smith to grow into their roles and form an excellent tandem. Dwayne Wright might have been the offense throughout the season, and tore off more than his share of big runs, but Smith should add more in the way of huge plays.
Strength: Smith's speed. Before getting hurt, he appeared on the verge of being one of the WAC's most exciting backs. Once he proves he can carry the ball on a regular basis, he'll be a game-changing weapon.
Weakness: Backups. Anthony Harding appeared to be one his way to being the number two back before getting hurt this spring. If Smith and/or Miller struggle, it might be up to true freshman Ryan Matthews.
Outlook: Even though there isn't a 1,462-yard rusher like Wright to count on, and the ground game won't finish 16th in the nation, it could still be productive with an improved passing game that should do more to stretch the field and a great line to pave the way. Miller and Smith will start out as the main men, while Harding and Matthews will get their chances to shine this fall.
Rating: 6


Projected Starters
Sophomore Chastin West was one of the biggest surprises last year, leading the team with 33 tackles for 365 yards and three touchdowns despite missing two games early on. At 6-1 and 215 pounds, he's a big target with good deep speed. While he has terrific upside, he isn't a number one receiver. Considering how young the rest of the corps is, he needs to be.

On the other side will be 6-1, 185-pound sophomore Marlon Moore, the team's fastest player and an elite deep threat. He only caught four passes last season, but they were for 105 yards and a score with a 75-yard touchdown play. He might not make a ton of catches, but he'll make them count and will always stretch the field.

The team's best offensive player might be 6-5, 260-pound junior tight end Bear Pascoe, a former tight end who caught 22 passes for 307 yards and a score. A top quarterback recruit when he came to Fresno, he quickly made the move, beefed up, and went from behind a strong blocker to a field-stretching receiver who can also blast away in the running game.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Seyi Ajirotutu struggled last year as he tried to figure out his role, but he has the talent, the 6-3, 205-pound size, and the deep speed to become a major factor in three-wide sets and playing behind Moore. A good high school receiver, he was a better defensive back. Now he should grow into a steady target after catching four passes for 34 yards.

Sophomore Jason Crawley is another big, fast Bulldog receiver with big-time promise. He only made three catches for 23 yards with a touchdown, and now will play behind West after looking great in spring ball.

Back after leaving the team last year due to personal issues, 6-5, 245-pound senior Jesus Tapia is back and looked great this spring behind Pascoe. He's a good enough receiver to see plenty of passes his way in two tight end sets, and he's not a bad blocker. He has the size, the athleticism and the hands, and now he has to put it all together and come up with a big year.

Watch Out For ... Moore. This might be the WAC's fastest receiving corps, and Moore is the speediest of the speedy. Once he gets more work, and the quarterback situation is better, he'll explode.
Strength: Speed, speed and more speed. Expect lots and lots of deep passes. The corps might be a question mark, but it's full of dangerous threats who'll put plenty of pressure on secondaries.
Weakness: Production. There was an entire meltdown in the passing game, and it's not all the fault of the receiving corps, but the loss of Joe Fernandez and Paul Williams takes away two talented veterans. West led the team in catches and needs to become steadier.
Outlook: The receiving corps can't help but be better after a woeful season. It'll take all the promising sophomores to play like veterans, and Pascoe needs to be even more productive than last year. It should all happen with a more experienced quarterback getting five days to throw behind a veteran line.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The best of a good bunch is 6-2, 290-pound junior Cole Popovich, who was a star recruit a few years ago and has lived up to the billing. He has 23 starts over the last two seasons growing into a fantastic all-around blocker and a rock in pass protection. While he's not a mauler, he's great at pounding a lineman when he has to. He has to stay healthy.

6-5, 285-pound junior Bobby Lepori started almost all of last year at left tackle, and will get the first shot again. As one of the X factors going into last year, he came through with a big year. He's an athletic blocker who's great on the move and was surprisingly steady.

Senior Ryan Wendell stepped in over the last four games of last year for Kyle Young at center, and was solid. The 6-2, 285-pounder started every game last year, beginning at left guard, and should be the anchor of the line with his experience and all-around talent. While not an All-WAC star, he's steady.

6-4, 285-pound junior Adam McDowell took over at right guard when Popovich moved to the left side, and now the job is his. A tackle by trade, he's athletic with more than enough toughness to handle himself well on the inside. As good as he is, he's not a top run blocker.

The one big loss is long-time starter Chris Denman at right tackle. 6-3, 285-pound junior Kenny Avon started late last year at left tackle and will now step in on the right side. The former defensive lineman is an unbelievable athlete who has beefed up enough to become a regular and a great new starter.

Projected Top Reserves: At 6-5 and 310 pounds, redshirt freshman James Meeks is one of the team's biggest linemen, weighing 25 pounds more than Lepori on the left side. The former defensive lineman should be a physical blocker, as will 6-3, 310-pound Charlie Wiggins on the right side behind Avon. He's beefed up big time over the last year.

6-4, 285-pound Pierce Masse is the only non-redshirt freshman among the top reserve. He'll start out behind Popovich on the left side, and the former defensive lineman could be the first backup in the mix on the other side, too.

Watch Out For ... this to be the league's second best line behind Boise State's. This will be the team's biggest strength with good veteran starters, big backups, and loaded of potential for a second straight big year.
Strength: Pass protection. The Bulldogs had the nation's 16th best rushing attack last year, but it was at its best protecting the passer allowing a mere 12 sacks.
Weakness: Proven reserves. There's great promise among the backups, but four of the best are redshirt freshmen.
Outlook: While the line will miss Chris Denman, Kenny Avon has the potential to be a good one. If he's strong from the start, the veteran line will be terrific as long as there aren't major injury issues.
Rating: 7.5


Related Stories
2007 Fresno State Preview
 -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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