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2007 Fresno State Bulldogs

Collegefootballnews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2007


2007 Fresno State Bulldogs Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews



2007 Fresno State Bulldogs

Recap: The Bulldogs rebounded swiftly from last year’s 4-8 debacle, winning nine games, including a 40-28 thumping of Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.  Fresno State closed 8-2, recapturing some of its swagger under Pat Hill behind a physical offensive line and a deep running game that had four different 100-yard rushers during the season.  Beating the Yellow Jackets was especially poignant since the Bulldogs were just 1-4 against bowl-eligible opponents during the regular season, losing to WAC kingpins Hawaii and Boise State.      

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Ryan Mathews

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Marcus Riley

Biggest Surprise: Mathews.  Buried on the depth chart when the season began, the freshman emerged as Fresno State’s best offensive weapon, rushing for a team-high 866 yards and 14 touchdowns before suffering a muscle tear near his collarbone.  Mathews’ future is bright, particularly in an offense that likes to grind it out between the tackles.   

Biggest Disappointment: The Bulldogs left everything they had on the Kyle Field turf on Sept. 8, yet still lost to Texas A&M, 47-45, in triple-overtime.  Although Fresno State battled all the way back from an early 19-0 deficit to force extra sessions, it finally bowed down to an Aggie ground game that churned out 318 yards.   

Looking Ahead: With so much offensive talent returning from last year’s 9-4 team, Fresno State is poised to make a run at a WAC title or more in 2008.  If Riley and DE Tyler Clutts can be adequately replaced, the Bulldogs are going to be a handful for UCLA, Kansas State, and Wisconsin in the early stages of the season.

- 2007 Fresno St Preview  
- 2006 Fresno St Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2007 Record:
9-4

Sept. 1 Sacramento St W 24-3
Sept. 8 at Texas A&M L 47-45 3 OT
Sept. 15 at Oregon L 52-21
Sept. 29
Louisiana Tech W 17-6
Oct. 6 at Nevada W 49-41
Oct. 13
at Idaho W 37-24
Oct. 20 San Jose State W 30-0
Oct. 26 Boise State L 34-21
Nov. 3
Utah State W 39-27
Nov. 10 at Hawaii L 37-30
Nov. 24 Kansas State W 45-29 Dec. 1
at NMSU W 30-23
Humanitarian Bowl
Dec. 31 Georgia Tech W 40-28

Dec. 31
2007 Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno State 40 ... Georgia Tech 28

Fresno State gave up a 35-yard touchdown catch to Demaryius Thomas on the opening drive of the game, and then rolled from there with 27 straight points on a 43-yard Clifton Smith run, a six-yard run from Marlon Moore, two Clint Stitser field goals, and a three-yard Drew Lubinsky scoring grab. With star RB Tashard Choice hurt, the Yellow Jackets got production out of Jonathan Dwyer in the third quarter on touchdown runs of 36 and two yards out, but it was hardly enough as Tom Brandstater was too sharp throughout. His 24-yard touchdown dash late in the third put it away, while Smith closed things out with a 32-yard scoring run. The two teams combined to convert 18 of 27 third down chances.
Offensive Player of the Game: Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater completed 23 of 30 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown, and ran three times for 40 yards and a score
Defensive Player of the Game: Fresno State DE Tyler Clutts made seven tackles, two sacks and broke up a pass
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 23-30, 285 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Clifton Smith, 18-152, 2 TD. Receiving: Marlon Moore, 7-80
Georgia Tech - Passing: Calvin Booker, 7-15, 116 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Tashard Choice, 12-69. Receiving:
Demaryius Thomas, 4-69, 1 TD
Thoughts & Notes ... Georgia Tech interim head coach Jon Tenuta didn't exactly come through with a strong defensive gameplan against Fresno State. There was little of the pass rush that dominated at times throughout the year, there were too many big plays allowed, and not enough stops on third downs. Fresno State played a better first half and Tech couldn't scramble to get back. The fight appeared to be there as the game went on, but the Bulldogs were too sharp. ... FSU QB Tom Brandstater has been teetering on the verge of greatness, and this game might be the one that makes him the WAC's signature star going into 2008 (if Boise State's Ian Johnson leaves early). The offensive line gave him time and he came through with a brilliant game. ... Even though the coaching situation made Georgia Tech understandably uneven, this was still a bad, bad loss for the ACC. The WAC has been mediocre in the bowl season, and Fresno State is certainly nothing too special, but the Yellow Jackets got their doors blown off. Fresno State outgained Tech 571 yards to 379.

Nov. 30
Fresno State 30 ... New Mexico State 23
Fresno State got 263 yards on the ground with short touchdown runs from QB Tom Brandstater, Ryan Mathews and Anthony Harding, but the Aggies made it interesting with a 24-yard Paul Young field goal and a one-yard Chase Holbrook scoring run to pull within seven with just under six minutes to play. The Bulldogs were able to hold on in the cold and rainy conditions to solidify their bowl bid. NMSU got 323 yards through the air, but 66 of them came on a touchdown pass in the first few minutes to Kenneth Buckley.
Player of the game: Fresno State RBs Anthony Harding and Ryan Mathews combined for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 47 carries
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 10-19, 205 yds
Rushing: Anthony Harding, 28-121, 1 TD. Receiving: Marlon Moore, 4-106
New Mexico State - Passing: Chase Holbrook, 31-52, 323 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Brandon Perez, 5-37. Receiving:
Wes Nelman, 11-128
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Considering the weather conditions were horrible, and New Mexico State was playing its final game of the year, the offense did a great job of not screwing things up. It didn't give away any turnovers, was fantastic and pounding the ball to control the game, and was able to weather the storm, literally and figuratively, to get a nice 8-4 regular season. Outside of RB Ryan Mathews leaving with an injured collarbone, almost everything went right.

Nov. 24
Fresno State 45 ... Kansas State 29
Kansas State got up early with a 67-yard James Johnson touchdown dash and a 45-yard Leon Patton run, and then the wheels came off as Fresno State scored 28 straight points with Tom Brandstater throwing two touchdown passes and running for another. The Wildcats got back into the game with two seconds to play in the first half on a three-yard Jordy Nelson touchdown catch, but Fresno State came out dominating the second half with scoring drives from 91 and 71 yards out. The Bulldogs cranked out 549 yards of total offense and held on to the ball for 41:32.
Player of the game: Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater completed 23 of 29 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 27-41, 256 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: James Johnson, 9-71, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 15-165, 1 TD
Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 23-29, 313 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Will Harding, 22-115, 1 TD. Receiving: Marlon Moore, 9-134, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  
All of a sudden, a season that looked like a disappointment because of the failures in the WAC now looks fantastic after a dominating win over Kansas State. Tom Brandstater showed off the talent and the accuracy to make him the type of quarterback the program can revolve around next year, while the offensive line did a terrific job for the running game. Can the team be consistent? It followed up the last two wins with losses, but it'll take a total meltdown to lose at New Mexico State next week. If Brandstater can complete 23 of 29 passes again, there won't be any problems.

Nov. 10
Hawaii 37 ... Fresno State 30
Hawaii QB Colt Brennan tied Ty Detmer's record for most touchdown passes, but he might not remember much about it. Brennan ran for a three-yard score and threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Jason Rivers and a five-yard pass to Davone Bess on the way to a 31-10 lead, but he was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Fresno State made it interesting with two Marlon Moore touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors were able to hang on. The two teams combined to convert four of 19 third down chances.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 28 of 39 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran for five yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 15-26, 209 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Clifton Smith, 17-105. Receiving: Seyi Ajirotutu, 4-64
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 28-39, 396 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Leon Wright-Jackson, 6-65, 1 TD. Receiving: Ryan Grice-Mullen, 9-128
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Bulldogs played well against Hawaii, but they couldn't get the offense going until it was too late. Knocking out Colt Brennan helped the defense, but Tom Brandstater woke up with the game winding down as he started to make several nice plays in crunch time in a rally attempt. Now FSU gets two weeks off the rest up and prepare before dealing with Kansas State. A win over a BCS name team would be nice, and it's a must to avoid a streak of three losses in four games. The offense has to get on track earlier to make it happen.

Nov. 3
Fresno State 38 ... Utah State 27
Fresno State avenged last year's 38-27 loss to Utah State with six sacks and a 31-point first half highlighted by a 27-yard Isaac Kinter touchdown catch with three seconds remaining, two Ryan Mathews scoring runs, and a 52-yard bomb from PK Clint Stitser. Utah State came up with a solid second half getting Peter Caldwell field goals from 46 and 40 yards, a 44-yard Kevin Robinson touchdown grab, and a 23-yard Rob Myers scoring play, but couldn't get within close enough to make any sort of scare. A.J. Jefferson returned a kickoff for a touchdown after a 46-yard Caldwell field goal.
Player of the game: Fresno State RBs Clifton Smith and Ryan Mathews ran for 232 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries.
Stat Leaders: Utah State - Passing: Leon Jackson, 18-26, 214 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Derrvin Speight, 11-71. Receiving: Kevin Robinson, 5-87, 1 TD
Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 13-18, 131 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Clifton Smith, 27-126. Receiving: Bear Pascoe, 4-35

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Fresno State running game dominated Utah State, allowing Tom Brandstater to relax and not force any tough throws. Now the Bulldogs are bowl eligible and now they're on a little bit of a roll, winning five of their last six games before the showdown at Hawaii. Win that, and then it's time to really start getting excited about a strong year. If the defensive front is getting into the backfield like it did this week, it'll have a shot against the Warriors.

Oct. 26
Boise State 34 ... Fresno State 21
Boise State pounded away for 282 rushing yards with Jeremy Avery tearing off scoring runs from 24, 10 and 13 yards out yards out, with the final score capping off a 24-0 run that Fresno State couldn't match. The Bulldogs to a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown from Clifton Smith and a 21-yard touchdown catch from Clifton Smith and a 21-yard scoring catch from Marlon Moore, but it wasn't nearly enough to overcome the BSU running game. BSU converted ten of 18 third down conversion chances, while Fresno State converted just one of 13.
Player of the game: Boise State RB Jeremy Avery ran 18 times for 124 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Boise State - Passing: Taylor Tharp, 18-29, 158 yds
Rushing: D.J. Harper, 19-159, 1 TD. Receiving: Jeremy Childs, 9-82
Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 21-39, 263 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Clifton Smith, 5-65. Receiving:
Marlon Moore, 6-79, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Boise State offensive line beat the Fresno State defensive line. It was that simple. The Bulldog defensive front got a little bit of pressure on Bronco QB Taylor Tharp, but it wasn't close to keeping the running backs from getting to the second level. The Bulldogs are hardly out of the WAC race, and with Utah State coming up before facing Hawaii, it'll be important to come up with an easy win and get Tom Brandstater and the passing game going again. It was fine against the Broncos, but it was hardly special enough to contend with the Warriors in two weeks.

Oct. 20
Fresno State 30 ... San Jose State 0
Ryan Mathews ran for scores from 14 and 58 yards out and Clint Stitser connected on field goals from 35, 40 and 44 yards away in the Fresno State win. The Bulldogs got a 21-point third quarter on the Matthews runs and a two-yard Lonyae Miller run to put the game well out of reach. San Jose State outgained the Bulldogs 394 yards to 383, but missed two field goal chances and was killed by penalties.
Player of the game: Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews ran 16 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 16-26, 132 yds
Rushing: Ryan Matthews, 16-144, 2 TD. Receiving: Bear Pascoe, 4-38
San Jose State - Passing: Adam Tafralis, 22-41, 254 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Adam Tafralis, 15-97. Receiving: David Richmond, 5-119

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Fresno State is hot. On a four-game winning streak and spotless in WAC play, this is the sleeper team no one's paying much attention to. Thanks to the running of Ryan Mathews and the play of the defense, the Bulldogs didn't have to get cute against San Jose State. Tom Brandstater made the throws that were there without forcing anything, the running game rolled for 251 yards, and there wasn't any worry. Now comes the Boise State showdown. The same formula should work, especially if Ian Johnson is out.

Oct. 13
Fresno State 37 ... Idaho 24
Idaho ran for 279 yards to Fresno State's 238, but it couldn't come back after the Bulldogs got out to a 31-7 lead going into the fourth quarter on two touchdown runs from both Lonyae Miller and Ryan Matthews. The Vandals got a 53-yard Deonte Jackson touchdown run late in the third quarter, but could never get within striking distance. David Vobora made 14 tackles for the Vandals.
Player of the game: Fresno State RBs Ryan Mathews and Lonyae Miller combined for 175 yards and four touchdowns on 35 carries.
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 17-22, 178 yds
Rushing: Lonyae Miller, 18-108, 2 TD. Receiving: Bear Pascoe, 6-69
Idaho - Passing: Brian Nooy, 9-22, 144 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Deonte Jackson, 11-111, 1 TD. Receiving:
Maurice Shaw, 6-70
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The run defense struggled against Idaho, but it didn't matter. Ryan Mathews, Lonyae Miller, and the FSU running game were way too much for the Vandals to deal with, but the real key was the play of QB Tom Brandstater. He wasn't anything special, but he completed 17 of 22 passes and didn't make any mistakes, while the Idaho passing game couldn't consistently move the ball. Very quietly, the Bulldogs are looking like real WAC contenders.

Oct. 6
Fresno State 49 ... Nevada 41
Fresno State got touchdown runs of three, 54 and 67 yards from Ryan Mathews, and got a 67-yard punt return for a score and a 15-yard touchdown run from Clifton Smith, and a blocked field goal for a score from A.J. Jefferson, on the way to a 42-20 lead, and then things appeared to be out of hand when Lonyae Miller tore off a 72-yard scoring run early in the third. But Nevada would come back, as Colin Kaepernick threw two touchdown passes and ran for a three-yard score, but his 34-yard strike to Adam Bishop came with only three seconds left, and Fresno held on. The Bulldogs outgained the Wolf Pack 307 rushing yards to 211.
Player of the game: Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 10-16, 168 yds
Rushing: Ryan Mathews, 14-171, 3 TDs. Receiving: Clifton Smith, 5-74
Nevada - Passing: Colin Kaepernick, 23-36, 384 yds, 4 TDs
Rushing:
Brandon Fragger, 17-75. Receiving: Marko Mitchell, 9-135, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's nice to see the running game explode, but it would've been nicer had the Bulldogs been able to close Nevada out a little easier. There are now several weapons to work with, thanks to the emergence of Ryan Mathews
and the explosiveness of Lonyae Miller. All the pressure is off QB Tom Brandstater for now. but he has to get hot again over the next two games against Idaho and San Jose State before dealing with Boise State.

Sept. 29
Fresno State 17 ... Louisiana Tech 6
Louisiana Tech got up 6-0 at halftime on two Danny Horwedel field goals, and then did nothing else the rest of the game as Fresno State scored 17 unanswered points with Jason Crawley catching a 27-yard touchdown pass and Clifton Smith running for a six-yard score. Neither offense moved the ball through the air, but Fresno was helped by a suffocating defensive performance with seven sacks, including four from Tyler Clutts.
Player of the game: Fresno State DE Tyler Clutts made nine tackles and four sacks
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Zac Champion, 22-48, 179 yds
Rushing: Patrick Jackson, 18-75. Receiving: Philip Beck, 8-68
Louisiana Tech - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 8-22, 92 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Lonyae Miller, 18-50. Receiving: Bear Pascoe, 3-29

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The Fresno State defense dominated Louisiana Tech, and with the way the offense played, it had to. Tom Brandstater took yet another step back with an awful performance, and while he was under pressure, he needed to do far more. Tyler Clutts and the Fresno defensive line saved the day time and again, shutting down the Tech offense. Now it'll have to be even better against a rested Nevada.

Sept. 15
Oregon 52 ... Fresno State 21
Oregon never let Fresno State in the game, getting up 42-6 in the first half before the Bulldogs got a Bear Pascoe one-yard touchdown catch with one second to play. It was more of the same in the second half, with the Ducks keeping FSU off the board until the final minutes. Dennis Dixon threw two touchdown passes and ran for a one-yard score, but the fireworks came from Jonathan Stewart, who tore off an 88-yard touchdown run to go along with a nine-yard dash that started off the rout.
Player of the game: Oregon QB Dennis Dixon was 14-of-20 for 139 yards and two touchdown passes, while running eight times for 59 yards and another score.
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 18-32, 219 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Lonyae Miller, 16-40, 1 TD. Receiving: Bear Pascoe, 4-67
Oregon - Passing: Dennis Dixon, 14-20, 139 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing:
Jonathan Stewart, 17-165, 2 TDs. Receiving: Jaison Williams, 5-50

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's not fair to call the Oregon debacle a step back for Tom Brandstater, who was coming off a great game against Texas A&M. This was on the defense that couldn't slow down anything the Ducks wanted to do, and it was on the offense that was sloppy all over the place. Oregon's going to rip through plenty of defenses, so it's not time to completely panic yet, but the Bulldogs will have to start getting far tougher against the run. Fortunately, they get Louisiana Tech before dealing with Luke Lippincott and the Nevada ground game.

Sept. 8
Texas A&M 47 ... Fresno State 45 3OT
In a wild game with several major momentum swings, Fresno State got into the end zone on Bear Pascoe's third touchdown catch of the game in the third overtime, but Tom Brandstater's two-point conversion attempt failed to click to allow the Aggies to escape. The Aggies appeared to have the game won in regulation after Jorvorskie Lane rumbled in for a five-yard score with under two minutes to play, but down 29-22, the Bulldogs went 80 yards in ten plays with Brandstater scrambling before finding Pascoe for a three-yard score with five seconds to play. A&M got a field goal on its overtime possession, and then the fun began as Fresno State appeared to have the ball down at the one as Marlon Moore dove just before getting into the end zone, lost the ball on to the Aggies before crossing the goal line, and then got a reprieve after the play was called back for a roughing the passer penalty. The Bulldogs ended up kicking a field goal, and then the two teams traded short touchdown runs in the second overtime. 
Player of the game: Texas A&M RB Jorvorskie Lane ran for 121 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries, and had a reception for eight yards.
Stat Leaders: Fresno State
- Passing: Tom Brandstater, 21-31, 260 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Ryan Mathews, 11-66, 1 TD. Receiving: Bear Pascoe, 7-70, 3 TDs
Texas A&M
- Passing: Stephen McGee, 13-24, 79 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Stephen McGee, 16-124. Receiving: Martellus Bennett, 5-35
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Fresno State might have lost to Texas A&M, but it might have discovered its quarterback. Tom Brandstater came up with a gutty effort, making things happen just to get into overtime, and fighting back from a big hit to stay in the game and keep pushing the Aggies. He wasn't getting any help from the running game, and the defense wasn't stopping the Aggie ground game, so this was all on Brandstater. While he can't regress against Oregon next week, this could be a big step for the program.

Sept. 1
Fresno State 24 ... Sacramento State 3
The only excitement was the retirement of David Carr's jersey at halftime, as Fresno State held Sacramento State to 102 yards of total offense in the breather. The Bulldogs started off the scoring with a 27-yard Bear Pascoe touchdown catch, and scored the final 17 points of the game helped by a three-yard scoring run from Lonyae Miller and a 30-yard dash from Clifton Smith. SCU's only points came in the second quarter on a 21-yard Juan Gamboa field goal.
Player of the game: Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews ran 11 times for 77 yards
Stat Leaders: Sacramento State - Passing: Jason Smith, 13-23, 60 yds
Rushing: Travon Jones, 17-49. Receiving: Ryan Coogler, 6-41
Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 16-27, 199 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Ryan Mathews, 11-77. Receiving: Marlon Moore, 7-70
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The defense never let Sacramento State breathe, while the offense stretched its running legs and was relatively solid in the passing game. Tom Brandstater threw for 199 yards, but he wasn't always on target. He needs to be even sharper than 16 of 27 for the Bulldogs to have a shot at Texas A&M next week. However, if the offense can convert 12 of 20 third down chances again, things will be fine.

Sept. 1 – Sacramento State

Sept. 8 – at Texas A&M
Offense: Run, run, and run some more. The Aggies finished last year eighth in the nation in rushing, and now the line should be even better with four legitimate All-Big 12 candidates paving the way for the devastating rushing tandem of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson. QB Stephen McGee was better than anyone could've hoped for last year taking over for Reggie McNeal, and while he might not throw only two interceptions again, he'll be one of the league's best all-around quarterbacks. The tight end tandem of Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas would get all the conference attention if it wasn't for Missouri's tremendous pair, but the receivers are suspect and could be the Achilles heel if there Earvin Taylor doesn't have a huge season.
Defense: First of all, realize what amazing strides the defense made under defensive coordinator Gary Darnell. The pass defense was the worst in the nation in 2005 and became more than just respectable last season in a 4-2-5 alignment that led to a solid year until the Holiday Bowl meltdown against Cal. There wasn't enough of a pass rush outside of Chris Harrington, but that could change if tackle Red Bryant is healthy again and occupies two blockers on the inside. There aren't any all-stars in the back seven, but it's a good, sound group that will do just enough to get by.


Sept. 15 – at Oregon
Offense: As usual, Oregon gobbled up a ton of yards in 2006, but lacked efficiency most of the year and imploded under the weight of its turnovers in the second half of the season.  So when offensive coordinator Gary Crowton left for LSU, Mike Bellotti turned to New Hampshire’s Chip Kelly to get the offense back on course.  A spread offense guru, Kelly will have a few new bells and whistles in his toolbox, including greater use of the no-huddle and increased reliance on superstar back Jonathan Stewart.  The key for the offense, and probably the entire team, will be the development of senior quarterback Dennis Dixon, who became the poster boy for the Ducks’ collapse late last year.  He’ll get adequate protection from Max Unger and the boys up front, but needs more consistency from a receiving corps that misplayed too many balls in 2006. 
Defense: Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti isn’t shy about bringing pressure with his wave of good athletes, and now has a couple of quality corners to marginalize the risk of selling out.  Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond, Freshman All-Americans in 2006, join standout rover Patrick Chung to give the Ducks their feistiest secondary in years.  The front seven, however, is far less stable.  After finishing ninth in the Pac-10 in run defense, Oregon needs to shore up the middle of its defense and develop an end or two that can consistently create pressure.  Redshirt freshman Brandon Bair is one possibility that has the staff cautiously excited about the defensive end spot.  In a league filled with strong-armed hurlers, that promising secondary will pay the price if opposing passers are given too much time to throw.

Sept. 29 - Louisiana Tech
Defense: 2006 was expected to be a year of transition, but yeesh. The D was the worst in America allowing 483 yards and close to 42 points per game, and it was simply awful from start to finish. Step one for the new coaching staff is to find a way to get into the backfield after the Bulldogs finished dead last in sacks and tackles for loss, and it'll alternated between a 3-4 and a 4-3 to try to get some production. The linebacking corps should be decent, the secondary can fly, and the defensive line is full of decent-sized veterans. Now there has to be come semblance of production.
Offense: It's not like the offense was awful last year, but it wasn't consistent and it didn't do enough to keep in all the shootouts created by its defense. Enough talent returns to look for more overall production, especially in the running game where Patrick Jackson should shine behind a big, veteran offensive line that can block, but can't pass protect. The quarterback situation will be worth watching with Zac Champion likely to get the job to start the season, but will be pushed by Michael Mosley and Ross Jenkins for time.


Oct. 6 – at Nevada
Offense: The offense is going to be a work in progress and should be far better midseason than it will be to start. The biggest question marks are on the offensive line, particularly at tackle, after Charles Manu moved to guard and Dominic Green move to center. The receiving corps is big, faster than last year, and should make more big plays with big-armed Nick Graziano taking over at quarterback. The running backs need Brandon Fragger to be healthy to add a speed option along with Luke Lippencott. The Pistol offense will likely use a little more fullback this year, and will try to push the passing game deeper.
Defense: There will be some new defensive coaches taking over with coordinator Ken Wilson keeping the 3-4 scheme to take advantage of the great linebackers. Ezra Butler, Jeremy Engstrom, and Joshua Mauga are as good as any trio in the WAC, and will be the team's strength. The line is solid, helped by the emergence of nose tackle Matt Hines as a top all-around playmaker. The secondary is fine, but nothing special; the better WAC passing games won't have a problem against it.

Oct. 13 – at Idaho
Offense: Same idea, different implementation. The new coaching staff will go with a one-back set using four and five-wide formations, sort of like the old coaching staff did, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on tough running. That's a good thing with the strength in the running back corps with four good players, led by junior Jayson Bird, to carry the offense early on. The quarterback situation will be settled this fall with the likely winner being 6-5 redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle, but the receiving corps is going to be a work in progress well into the season. The starting five up front should be fine due to its experience, but it's nothing special. 
Defense: There's experience and all-star talent to work with, so why was the Vandal defense so miserable last season? The line. The front four has to find tackles that can stop the run, and ends that can get into the backfield. If that happens, there could be a night-and-day improvement as the coaching staff looks to attack, attack, and attack some more. With MLB JoArtis Ratti back and healthy, he should combine with David Vobora to create the WAC's most dangerous linebacking duo. Corner Stanley Franks is an interception machine, and safety Shiloh Keo is an undersized hitter. Now everything has to start working around those four.


Oct. 20 - San Jose State
Offense: The offense wasn't always explosive, but it was steady, didn't give the ball away, kept the chains moving, and got the job done. Expect more of the same if the offensive line can quickly replace three starters and the new recruits for the receiving corps can play right away. The passing game loses the top three targets and 141 of 181 catches, so ultra-efficient QB Adam Tafralis has to be even better. Yonus Davis leads a small, quick, veteran group of running backs that can take it the distance with a little bit of room.
Defense: The Spartan defense took a giant leap forward giving up yards, but not a whole bunch of points allowing fewer than 24 in ten of the final 11 games. Seven starters are back from the ball-hawking crew led by tackling machine Matt Castelo at middle linebacker and corners Dwight Lowery and Christopher Owens. The defensive front has to do a better overall job, and it will now that it's experienced after cutting its teeth last season. Jarron Gilbert and Justin Cole will be pass rushing terrors. Expect this group to give up plenty of yards, but also come up with more than its share of takeaways.


Oct. 26 - Boise State
Offense: As the Fiesta Bowl showed, there isn't a more creative offensive coaching staff in the country, but the attack, led by a Heisman caliber back in Ian Johnson working behind a tremendous line, could look positively vanilla (by Boise State standards) early on. Ryan Clady leads a dominant front five with four starters returning, and they'll need to be even stronger in pass protection with the quarterback situation unsettled. Taylor Tharp is a good, accurate passer, while Bush Hamdan is a big-armed runner who'll throw it all over the place. The receiving corps has potential, but the top four pass catchers have to be replaced. Even so, look for several different formations and several different looks from game to game.
Defense: As expected, the defense was the best in the WAC last year and should be fantastic again with seven starters returning. Stopping the run will be goal one, and it can be with a fantastic returning pass defense. The secondary will be great with safety Marty Tadman and the corner tandem of Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson returning, while the linebacking corps, even with the loss of Korey Hall, will be a strength with Derrell Acrey expected to step up and star, with veterans Kyle Gingg and David Shields keeping the run defense strong. Mike Williams and Nick Schlekeway form a good end tandem, but the tackles will be the team's biggest question mark outside of the quarterback situation.

Nov. 3 - Utah State
Offense: The offense did next to nothing last season scoring fewer than 14 points seven times and finishing averaging 10.83 points and 254 yards per game. The offensive line isn't bad and the starting receivers, led by Kevin Robinson, are solid, but the quarterback situation isn't settled with Riley Nelson out on a church mission, and there's no experience whatsoever at running back after Marcus Cross transferred. Basically, the attack needs to find one thing it can do well.
Defense:
If experience counts for anything, the Aggies should be far better with 11 returning starters and a ton of veteran backups ready to fill in. Now the defense has to stop someone after getting ripped apart by just about everyone. How bad did things get? The Aggies allowed an average of 48.8 points per game over the final five games. Ben Calderwood leads an undersized line that has to do more to get into the backfield. The corners are way too small, the linebackers are way too small, and the tackles are way too small. If the overall team quickness isn't accounting for big plays, there will be problems.


Nov. 10 – at Hawaii       
Offense: Everything worked last year as Colt Brennan and the offense exploded for a nation-leading 559 yards and 46.86 points per game. While Brennan is back, after flirting with the idea of turning pro early, along with star receivers Davone Bess, Jason Rivers and Ryan Grice-Mullen, the line isn't remotely as good as last year's and the running game will desperately miss Nate Ilaoa. David Farmer has to add the run to the run and shoot, or else Brennan won't be nearly as effective. Even so, expect video game numbers out of the nation's best passing attack.
Defense:
With defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville gone, Greg McMackin will change the D from a 3-4 to a 4-3, even though the one weak spot, at least early on, is experience on the line. The linebackers will be excellent with good depth behind top tacklers Adam Leonard and Solomon Elimimian, and they won't have to do  as much compared to last year with a more conservative, though not that much, overall defensive approach. Three starters return to a secondary that needs to be far tighter and far more clutch in big situations.

Nov. 24 – Kansas State
Offense: Call this another stepping stone season. The offensive line is ridiculously deep, but without much appreciable talent. The receiving corps has a slew of good prospects coming in, and four good tight ends, but can only count on deep threat Jordy Nelson to deliver. The 1-2 rushing punch of Leon Patton and James Johnson is scary-good, but there's absolutely no one behind them. And then there's the quarterback situation, which was a plus going into last year with several good players in a battle, but now is Josh Freeman and no safety net. Freeman has the talent to be a superstar, but hasn't been remotely consistent. When he's not on, it's over. It's not all doom and gloom. There's a ton of athleticism, and Freeman, Patton, Johnson and Nelson will have games when they're unstoppable, just not enough of them.
Defense: Raheem Morris lasted one year as defensive coordinator before moving on to the NFL. Tim Tibesar will take over and put in a 3-4 scheme, which might, at times, appear to be more of a 4-3 with star Ian Campbell playing outside linebacker and the occasional end. There's a ton of overall experience and depth, even with just six returning starters, with the strength to likely be in the secondary, where safety Marcus Watts leads a veteran cast. While the D likely won't be sixth in the nation in sacks and 18th in tackles for loss, there will be plenty of big plays made in the backfield with all the speed and athleticism across the positions. The overall net result should be better than last year, when KSU gave up 346 yards and 24 points per game.

Dec. 1 – at New Mexico State
Offense:
So that's how it's supposed to work? With Chase Holbrook at the helm, the Aggies finished third in the nation in total offense averaging 475 yards a game, 15th in scoring averaging 31 points a game, and second in passing averaging 399 yards per game. Those numbers might seem pedestrian this year if everyone stays healthy. Nine starters return including the top seven pass catchers, starting running back Jeremiah Williams, four linemen, and of course, Holbrook, who'll be one of the nation's statistical leaders all year long if the line, which found the right combination late last year, gives him just a little more time.
Defense: Big plays, big plays, big plays. The call has gone out from defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer for the defense to use all its experience, with eight returning starters (with safety Gerald Gurrier moving to receiver) to find a way to force more turnovers, come up with more stops on third downs, and most importantly, generate a pass rush. The Aggies came up with a mere 15 sacks and 55 tackles for loss last year, and those numbers need to double to give the beleaguered secondary any shot of being better. There isn't a whole bunch of talent from top to bottom, so everyone will have to be ultra-aggressive and more consistent.

 

  

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