2008 CFN Fresno State Preview
Fresno State WR Marlon Moore
Fresno State WR Marlon Moore
Posted Apr 23, 2008

Two years ago, Boise State broke the WAC barrier and got into the BCS. Last year, Hawaii got to the Sugar Bowl. Now it could be Fresno State's turn with a loaded team, helped by WR Marlon Moore, that should be the best in the Pat Hill era. Check out the CFN Fresno State Preview.

Fresno State Bulldogs

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Fresno State Preview | 2008 Fresno State Offense
- 2008 Fresno State Defense
| 2008 Fresno State Depth Chart
2007 CFN Fresno State Preview | 2006 CFN Fresno State Preview 

The Pat Hill era has been building to this season.

There have been great Fresno State teams in the past, and the David Carr-led squad of 2001 made plenty of national noise, but this is Hill's best, most complete team yet. This is the team ready to make the jump and be the national player Hill has been desperate for his program to become.

Head coach: Pat Hill
12th year: 85-55
Returning Lettermen: 51
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best FSU Players
1. RB Ryan Mathews, Soph.
2. TE Bear Pascoe, Sr.
3. QB Tom Brandstater, Sr.
4. DT Jon Monga, Sr.
5. KR/CB A.J. Jefferson, Jr.
6. LB Ben Jacobs. Soph.
7. OG Cole Popovich, Sr.
8. OT Bobby Lepori, Sr.
9. WR Marlon Moore,
10. SS Moses Harris, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Sept. 1 at Rutgers
Sept. 13 Wisconsin
Sept. 20 at Toledo
Sept. 27 at UCLA
Oct. 4 Hawaii
Oct. 11 Idaho
Oct. 25 at Utah State
Nov. 1 at Louisiana Tech
Nov. 7 Nevada
Nov. 15 New Mexico State
Nov. 21 at San Jose State
Nov. 28 at Boise State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 Central Ark W 28-7
Sept. 8 Hawaii L 45-44 OT
Sept. 15 at California L 42-12
Sept. 29 at Fresno State L 17-6
Oct. 6 at Ole Miss L 24-0
Oct. 13 N Mexico St
W 22-21
Oct. 20 Boise State L 45-31
Oct. 27
at Utah State W 31-21
Nov. 3 at Idaho W 28-16
Nov. 10 at LSU L 58-10
Nov. 17 San Jose St W 27-23
Dec. 1 Nevada L 49-10

No, this isn't a national title-contender and it's not going to win all the tough non-conference games, but it's good enough to win almost all of them and potentially be the third WAC team to get into the BCS in three years.

There's talent, athleticism and experience on an offense should be dominant. There's too much speed in the receiving corps for most secondaries to handle, TE Bear Pascoe is an All-America caliber playmaker, the running game will be among the 15 best in America thanks to the tandem of Ryan Mathews and Lonyae Miller, and the line is big, athletic, and very, very good. Throw in the expected emergence of QB Tom Brandstater from good to very good, and this is the type of balanced attack that'll give everyone fits.

The defense will be fine, and while it won't be special, it has enough good parts to get by if the offense is as good as expected. Can the smallish, average defensive front seven hold up against Wisconsin's power running game? Will the veteran, but beatable secondary be able to handle the Rutgers wide receivers? Can the offense, as good as it'll be, keep up with Toledo and UCLA on the road? That's the standard this team will want to set in September. Hill will have his team believing it can go 4-0, and if that happens, watch out.

Of course, it might be too tough to win all four of those games, and if, say, the Bulldogs go a respectable 2-2, will they lose focus on the attainable prize, a WAC title, and underachieve? The program, under Hill, has always seen the forest but not the trees, and it needs to set the goal as the WAC title and work back from there, but that's not necessarily how Hill rolls, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Think big, be big. There isn't a game on the schedule Fresno State can't win, and while there might be too many road games to get through unscathed, there's the talent to do big things. It's Fresno State's turn.

What to watch for on offense: The emergence of Brandstater as a big-time player. It's been a relatively slow maturation over the last three years, but with his size, arm, and experience, he should be ready to blow up and be an All-WAC star. He has the league's best line in front of him, a tremendous pair of backs to hand off to, and a speedy receiving corps to let him bomb away.

What to watch for on defense: The ends. The tackles aren't deep, but they're good. Now the ends need to come through. While the Bulldogs lose all-star Tyler Clutts, they have several good prospects to keep one of the league's best pass rushers going. Ikenna Ike was promising before getting hurt, Wilson Ramos is an athletic talent, and Kenny Borg and Chris Carter are quick.

The team will be far better if … it can pick off a pass. Bulldog opponents threw 460 times last year and were picked off just four times. Four. Marshall also picked up four passes, but no one else in America had fewer than seven interceptions. Secondaries dream about getting a pass rush to help out like Fresno State's gets, and there's talent among the DBs. The turnovers have to start coming.

The Schedule:
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Fresno State is absolutely good enough to win at UCLA, at Rutgers and at home against Wisconsin, but it won't beat all three and it could certainly start out the year 0-3 going into a road date against Toledo. Will the team have the mental makeup to press on if September is less than scintillating? Of course, a 3-1 start would set the overall expectations sky-high. The league schedule works out well until the end when dates at San Jose State and Boise State could ruin the dream WAC season.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Ryan Mathews. A ridiculously productive high school running quarterback, Mathews hit the ground, well, running as he led the Bulldogs with 866 yards and 14 touchdowns averaging six yards per carry before an ankle injury slowed him down. During a mid-season five-game stretch, the true freshman ran for 537 yards and ten touchdowns averaging 7.2 yards per pop before getting hurt. He's a sure-thing 1,000-yard back if he can stay healthy.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT Jon Monga. A tremendous interior pass rusher, the 6-2, 280-pounder has been more than a strong run blocker, he's the team's leading returning sacker after coming up with 6.5 with 11 tackles for loss. The one area the team can't afford a big injury hit is at tackle, so more than anything else, Monga has to be durable, something he's been able to do.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Ikenna Ike. After losing a top pass rusher and all-around star in Tyler Clutts, the Bulldog line needs production from the ends to get into the backfield. Ike appeared to be just starting to become a major factor when he suffered a wrist injury, and now he has to be a ring leader for a line that has apply steady pressure against the better WAC quarterbacks.

The season will be a success if ... Fresno State finally wins the WAC title. 1999 is the last time the program enjoyed a championship, and while there might be dreams of a BCS berth floating around, getting through the schedule with one loss might be too much to ask for. Winning a WAC championship wouldn't be a bad consolation prize if the Bulldogs don't get to the big spotlight games.

Key game: Nov. 28 at Boise State. 1-6. Fresno State has lost six of its last seven games to Boise State as the team with the weird blue turf has created the program Pat Hill has always dreamed of having. The Bulldogs could have a dream season with everything going their way, but that regular season matzo ball in Boise is hanging out there waiting to ruin all the fun. There's no BCS, and no WAC title, without a win.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Interceptions thrown: Fresno State 5 – Opponents 4
- Second quarter scoring: Fresno State 122 – Opponents 51
- Sacks: Fresno State 36 for 194 yards – Opponents 18 for 113 yards