Thursday, August 30, 2007

PREVIEW: Fresno State vs. Sacramento State

The way he played last season, junior Tom Brandstater might not give Fresno State an edge in many games. But this is one where he definitely can by simply being accurate. Brandstater completed just 54.5% of his passes last year and threw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (13).

Sacramento State has no idea what to expect, with redshirt freshman Jason Smith and true freshman Duncan White vying for the starting job. Neither has taken a college snap, and both put up modest high school stats.
Edge: Bulldogs

Running Backs
With Dwayne Wright gone to the NFL, the ‘Dogs turn the reigns over to sophomore Lonyae Miller and company. Miller looks like the next big thing in the Bulldogs’ backfield, and will have plenty of mix-and-match help from Clifton Smith, sophomore Anthony Harding and true freshman Ryan Mathews (who led the nation in yardage in high school).

The Hornets look to former Bullard High junior Travon Jones (cousin of Clifton Smith) to lead the team in the backfield. But Jones was only the second-leading rusher on Fresno City College last season. One positive is he won’t have to run up the middle against Fresno State’s Jason Shirley (two-game suspension).
Edge: Bulldogs

The Bulldogs were dealt a huge blow losing sophomore Chastin West, the team’s leading returner, for the season. But Jason Crawley had an amazing fall camp, and helps form a solid core with speedy Marlon Moore and talented Seyi Ajirotutu. All three are sophomores, but got some valuable experience last season (especially Moore). And it doesn’t hurt to have one of the nation’s best tight ends in junior Bear Pascoe, who will get plenty of looks as a tough matchup for Sac State.

Ryan Coogler had 45 catches for 441 yards in 2005, but caught just one past last year before a season-ending injury. He’s joined by JC transfer Tony Washington, who had 810 yards on 47 catches for Moorpark JC last season, and Tyler Fannuchi, who made just five catches last year. None of the three are taller than 5-foot-11.
Edge: Bulldogs

Offensive Line
Fresno State has five returners with starting experience, including All-WAC candidates Ryan Wendell and Cole Popovich. Left tackle Bobby Lepori looked imposing and played with a mean streak in fall camp. This is a good sign for a group that led the WAC and was third in the nation allowing just 12 sacks in 2006.

Tackles Jordan Hunter (6-6, 280) and Ray Navar (6-6, 255) will have their work cut out for them against Fresno State’s edge rushers. If they can’t buy some time for their young quarterback, Sac State doesn’t stand a chance.
Edge: Bulldogs

Defensive Line
The two-game suspension of Jason Shirley won’t hurt too bad in this game, but will be devastating against Texas A&M next week. Look for a breakout game of sorts from end Jason Roberts, who has as much potential as anyone on the line, and hasn’t come close to showing how great he can be yet. As the senior leader of the group, Tyler Clutts can be counted on more than ever.

Sac State returns four seniors along the line, all starters from last season. The group is led by aggressive tackle Dallas Mauga, who originally committed to San Diego State before becoming a Hornet.
Edge: Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are the deepest they’ve been in years at linebacker with Marcus Riley back at 100% leading the way. Highly-touted redshirt freshman Ben Jacobs gets his first start in the middle, replacing injured Ahijah Lane (out for the year) and speedy junior Ryan McKinley fills in for Quaadir Brown (one-game suspension).

Junior Cyrus Mulitalo returns as the Big Sky Conference’s leading tackler, with 120 last year. Junior Mike Brannon has been all-Big Sky two straight years at end before moving to linebacker this year.
Edge: Bulldogs

Defensive Backs
Fresno State’s secondary remains unproven, with senior corner Damon Jenkins stepping up as the leader this season. He was the only defensive back with an interception last season, finishing with 3. Sophomores Marvin Haynes and Moses Harris are set to start at safety, but redshirt freshman Lorne Bell is too good to keep off the field, and will find a way to make an impact.

The Hornets are led by strong safety Brent Webber (Sanger High) and free safety Brett Shelton (Stockdale High). Webber is 13 tackles from cracking the program’s top 10 all-time list, and is already tied for fourth with eight career interceptions. Another local product, Durrell Oliver (Clovis East High) starts at cornerback.
Edge: Bulldogs

Special Teams
Everyone is anxiously awaiting Clifton Smith’s first punt or kick return of the game. The last time he played a Division I-AA team was the 2005 opener against Weber State when he had two touchdowns on three attempts. Senior Clint Stitser looked shaky in the fall scrimmage, but has one of the strongest legs in the game.

Kicker Juan Gamboa made six of his final seven field goals last season, including a 48-yarder against Idaho State. Oscar Dealba enters his first season at punter after transferring from El Camino JC.
Edge: Bulldogs

This Fresno State squad seems angry about last season’s 4-8 record, and it should be. A season-opening rout would be great for the team’s morale – not to mention the fans’ frame of mind.
Edge: Bulldogs

Pat Hill is coming off his worst season – by far—since he’s been head coach. This year will be pivotal in keeping the program from taking a step backwards. The ‘Dogs will miss the presence of defensive coordinator Dan Brown, who recently had surgery, but secondary coach Randy Stewart brings a lot of knowledge to the playcalling booth.

Sac State counters with first-year coach Marshall Sperbeck, who led Foothill JC last season.
Edge: Bulldogs

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

That's one of the lines of the Sacramento State fight song: Fight, fight, fight, fight fight.

We doubt we'll hear much of it on Saturday, though, when the Hornets' football squad is in Bulldog Stadium. Because if any Sac State fans make the trip, they won't have much to cheer about.

Lucky for us, that also means we won't have to hear the rest of their fight song: The Hornet’s NEST is BEST in the WEST (Shout) BY TEST!

Seriously, that's how it goes.


I jest.

In all seriousness, Sac State shouldn't at all be a match for Fresno State on the football field. And people seem to agree. Ticket sales for the game had been slumping, and the marketing department went into overdrive to try and sell the matchup.

But there's a fight, fight, fight, fight, fight we'd much rather see. Fresno's Trisha from the Real World vs. Sac State's Shauvon from the Real World.

The smart money's on Trisha, not only because she's from Fresno but because anybody who wants to punch out Parisa is A-OK in our book.

A quick look at alumni lists already shows Shauvon as one of the top five most famous Sac State students along with Tom Hanks, Bobby McFerrin and former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden, who was known as Joanie Blunden in her Sac State days.

Fresno State doesn't have many entertainment celebrities among it's notable alumni, but at least a certain well-known NFL quarterback didn't have to change his name from Trentie Dlilfer when he went into the draft.

Alright, that's enough Hornets bashing we suppose. Here's a COOL thing about Sac State. No ish, they had a university president named James Bond in the 1970s.

The only bad thing about that is the guy he followed into office was named Otto Butz. Yes, a school with Sac in it's name also had a president named Butz.

And the school's founder was named Dickie Titz. OK, OK, that's not true. But all the other stuff is. And so's this: SAC STATE IS GOING DOWN!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Speaking of Sweeney...

Somebody needs to explain something to us. Why is Beau Sweeney, son of Kevin, grandson of Jim, not on his way to Bulldog Stadium next season? But instead, on his way to...Cal!?!?!?

The first wave of this news a couple months ago was infuriating and down-in-the-dumps sad all at the same time. You see, if there is ONE person in the world who grows up under the bloodlines where he'll be an absolute shoe-in for Fresno State, it's that kid -- Beau Sweeney. His dad was 5-foot-nothing and broke the all-time NCAA passing record at FS. His gramps was and IS the historical face of Bulldog Football.

His grandpa beat USC in '92 and then stood on a hotel lobby table in front of his players/media/fans/and anyone else lucky enough to be there and sang "I've Got That Bulldog Spirit" up in my head, deep in my heart, down in my toes... His grandpa was willing to fight for Fresno State (ask Ron McBride). Threw his hat on the ground. Pulled off his shirt, threw that too. He was a motivational speaker at its finest.

But what happened? Why didn't he motivationally speak to grandson Beau? Sweeney = Fresno State football. Always has. Maybe Beau will wise up and change his mind. He would be the hometown hero. It would be a national story. Name another time in history a dad coached his son at QB and then the QB's son became QB 18 or so years later and was one of the most highly-touted players to come to Fresno State. Name can't!

So I hope you're listening Beau. Maybe Pat Hill didn't call soon enough or offer soon enough, but if you've always wanted to go to Fresno State, what's stopping you?

You at Cal hurts the family name. It's like peanut butter sleeping around with someone other than jelly. If that ever happened, jelly would kick peanut butter out of the sandwich. And Fresno State fans aren't gonna be happy about eating jelly sandwiches.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sweeney gets saucy

It was fun to see former Fresno State quarterback Kevin Sweeney get his name mentioned in three different newspapers across the country this week.

Some paper in San Diego did this long snoozer on a guy who broke Sweeney's NCAA passing record. We'll spare you the link because it's possibly one of the most boring articles ever written. What else would you expect from a story about the SDSU Aztecs? But if you need a nap, go look on google.

Sweeney also got a couple of mentions in Colorado because the eeevil Dan Hawkins is coaching his son for the Buffaloes, and it's the first time it's happened since Kevin and Jim did it in mid-80s. We don't like Dan Hawkins because a) He ruined David Carr's perfect season. b) He likes to run up the score. c) He wears those stupid Oakley wraparound beach volleyball sunglasses. d) all of the above. And e) We dare you to find one person who actually does like him.

But Sweeney, more specifically, Jim Sweeney — we like. Check out his quote in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Regarding Kevin Sweeney earning the starting job as a redshirt freshman and some female caller to his radio show criticizing the move: "She wanted to know, 'Are we gonna be seeing anyone else besides Kevin Sweeney play?'" Jim Sweeney said. "I said, 'He'll be playing as long I'm sleeping with his mother.' "

So Sweeney's what like 90 years old now? What was he then? 65? And he's on the radio alluding to how he bones his wife between the sheets on local radio?

Yes, that guy over on the left in black and white. Boning. Think about it.

And then goes off and tells the story to someone in the Colorado media. What a throwback to simpler times.

We miss Jim Sweeney. We miss him like we miss scotch in the mornings, sexism and workplace harassment — which is to say, very, very much.

Now, to make up for all that geriatric sexual imagery, here's another throwback of which we are very fond: The defunct Fresno State dance team!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Will Pat Hill ever lead the 'Dogs to a BCS bowl?

That was the question posed to me when I opened up my Bark Board inbox tonight (thanks for the feedback SMELLMO).

It's not something I just sit around thinking about. Actually, it's something I've grown to expect. Haven't you?

I mean, Pat Hill came roaring in here about 10 years ago, and I was a scared high schooler, afraid what might happen to the program once Jim Sweeney left? But I soon found out Hill took everything Sweeney did and turned up the dial (pun intended).

He said, why not us? Why can't we be the next Florida State? Let's paint the Valley red. He held car sale after car sale. Spoke at event after event. He stopped stocking the team will JC guys and built a solid foundation from the ground up -- all the while telling us what he was planning. He coaches the same way. He has no problem telling opponents his team is gonna run right at 'em. Because if you execute, they can't stop you. He doesn't coerce players into becoming Bulldogs, he gives 'em the no-nonsense lowdown of what to expect and they either buy in or they don't -- he tells them they have to earn it. He said shutup and hit somebody. He said anyone, any time, anywhere. He aimed as high as possible. Didn't settle from less. Demanded good grades and put an emphasis on school from Day 1.

That's my attitude. Maybe it's just how I was raised, but my pride for Fresno runs deep. Pride for the whole Valley. I stand up when people from LA or SF or SD try to talk down at us. And much of that pride comes from Fresno State. That's our national stage most of the year. Showing how much we care about our great city, and getting a national audience to tune in on fall Saturdays (or whatever day of the week we play).

Brian Billick and Jeff Tedford were the other two finalists when Hill got the job. And I say, with 100% confidence, Hill was the best choice. Sure, Tedford would have been good too. Billick maybe?

But I guarantee no one would have matched Hill's vision for what Fresno State football can be, and no one would have worked as tirelessly to get it there. He's been telling us all along what he wants to do, and he's done a lot of it. There's no reason not to believe he won't finish the job.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Speaking of Tradition...

How many Fresno State fans don't participate or aren't aware of all of the traditions? To boost gameday pageantry, let's make a list. If I leave some out, add 'em in. We'll call this the rules of Fresno State fandom:

  • Wear Bulldog Red
  • Tailgate early and watch the band follow the paw prints to the stadium
  • Go in at least 30 mins. early when the siren goes off
  • Line the Red Mile (stadium ramp) and give the visiting team an intimidating entrance
  • Sing along with the alma mater (learn the words if you don't know 'em)
  • Stand for every kickoff
  • If you're a fan who likes to sit down the whole game, expect the rowdy fans in front of you to stand up AT LEAST every third down and every big play
  • Be respectable, don't throw beers (not even at Oregon State), don't throw screwdrivers (even if June Jones made up that whole story) and don't cuss at the visitors (even if they're Boise State fans acting like jerks)
  • Do the old school "Defense" clap-clap chant, but don't do it in hyper speed (are you listening student section?)
  • Keep being the loudest fans per capita in the country
  • Wow everyone in attendance with the heralded "Fres-no State, Fres-no State..." chant
  • Bark
  • When "Turn Up the Dial" is played by the band, move your arm up and down (tomahawk motion) with the thumbs up
  • Clap to "Fight Varsity," the Bulldogs fight song
  • Dance like crazy to the Bulldog Bounce (great way to start the fourth quarter AND a great name for a blog)
  • Participate in Third Down Thunder (it's not lame, it gets the crowd going)
  • Never EVER boo your own players (I don't care how many picks Pinegar throws)
  • Don't leave early EVER, not if FS leads by 50, not if FS is down by 30

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Here's an idea...WEAR RED!!!

Seriously, what the heck is this gimmicky junk the athletic department keeps coming up with? We are the Red Wave -- not the White Wave, not the Black Wave. RED! Got it?

So why then are fans now being told to "blackout" the Boise State game? Why not just hammer home the point for everyone to wear red? Do you think it looks cool for a national television audience to see the Red Wave I don't. Especially not against the hated Boise State Broncos.

More than any other game, that should be the one where school spirit permeates across the stadium, from fan to fan, with everyone screaming at the top of his/her lungs and proudly displaying their school color -- Bulldog Red.

Sure, this game is supposed to be a funeral of sorts for Boise State, and black is common at funerals, but the whole ideas just cheapens the longest-standing and most original tradition Fresno State has ever had, the nickname Red Wave.

Which Way Is The Gym?

Whichever direction it is, Fresno State fans are about to find out that Bulldogs mascot Timeout has been spending much of his time there. Like many Bulldogs fans, I am cautiously anxious about the new costume, which is supposed to be a leaner, meaner version of college football's best mascot. Protein shakes anyone?

Hopefully, the costume will become as recognizable and powerful as the stickers on the football helmets are, because we all know people be lovin' that four-paw dog. Still, the former Timeout was indeed a popular one, and will be missed, so the new one must be an upgrade.

I just hope that person behind the costume design is as talented as the person who designed the four-paw mascot. Just don't let it look like a carbon copy of the Georgia mascot, or any of the other Bulldog mascots, for that matter.

Regardless of what Timeout looks like, this we know: whomever lines up across from our boy Timeout on the football field is in deep doo-doo.

Just ask the La. Tech bulldog and the boise bronco.

One long Pitt stop

We remember it being a Fresno State-Colorado State game back in 1997.

Stuck in slow-moving traffic on our way to the game, Simpletext, his uncle and 12-year-old cousin had to listen to the beginning of the game on KMJ when disaster struck.

Bulldogs running back Michael Pittman caughed up a costly fumble.

"YOU SEE, SON!!," uncle screamed. "That's why Pittman won't go pro! He can't hang on to the ball!"

The cab of the truck got silent, the aromas of 12-year-old tears and fear sweat permeating the air. Nobody stood up for Pittman.

But here we are 10 years later, and Pittman is still in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's switching to fullback, according to the Bradenton Herald, to take over for the retiring Mike Allstott.

Sorry for not getting your back that night, Michael P. You showed 'im.

Coo-coo cachoo, Mr. Robnett

For those of you wondering where he'd gone, Richie Robnett is playing AA ball in Texas.

Robnett, who had one of the best hitting seasons in Fresno State baseball history, was a No. 1 pick of the A's in 2004, but has batted just .264 in three minor league seasons with a 2.6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

This year, however, it seems he's blossomed into one of the best hitters in the AA Texas League. At least that's what the article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram says, and when are they ever wrong?

So, the point here is Robnett may be on the fast track now that he's playing better (.277 avg, 16 HR, 69 RBI in 2007). At least, we hope to see him in the major leagues soon. It'd be quite a blow to the Bulldogs fan's ego if it turns out the A's swung and missed on two first-rounders from Fresno State.

Anyone got a read on Ben Fritz?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Disrespect to the WAC

It seems like this guy was just looking for reasons to hate on the WAC.

What a buffoon ....

I emailed him. Here's what I said:

"If you're going to mention that Alabama barely beat Hawaii last season, and lost to Hawaii in 2003, when "The Tide" had bad years. You've should be consistent and mention how Fresno State had it's worst season in 31 years (finished 4-8), and lost to LSU 38-6 last season. You shouldn't only point out certain things to make your column more favorable for your "point."
But hey, I guess you've got to write your stories, and make your BCS/SEC friends happy.

Thanks for your time,

mizarkn - Fresno, CA"

There are other columns about conference matchups, but he was looking for something bad about the WAC.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Scrimmage News & Notes

For the sake of time and sanity (a WHOLE lot went on at the scrimmage) here's a quick keyword rundown:

Offense: wow, improved, constant new looks
Defense: gonna have to do better than that

Ahijah Lane: will be sorely missed
Ryan Mathews: star in the waiting, smooth, light on the feet, big-time jukes
Lonyae Miller: featured back
Marcus Riley: got the speed back with more size
Tom Brandstater: much more accurate, quick routes, always has been a good practice player
Ryan Colburn: much improved from spring
Matt Faulkner: gamer, ate up third-team D
Jason Crawley: most improved receiver, could start with seamless transition
Clifton Smith: faster, stronger, X-factor keeps the D guessing
Drew Lubinsky: team never seems to capitalize when he's open
Tim Lang: working at WR and QB, big-time speed, strong arm
Ryan Wendell: in for a monster year
Bobby Lepori: may have turned in to the best LT in the WAC, Mankins-esque size
Ben Jacobs: now a starter, will have to mature even quicker than he already has
Jason Roberts: sorely needed for breakout year, must keep the motor going
Tyler Clutts: must assume leadership of D

A Leader Lost

Want proof that Ahijah Lane was the emotional leader of this Fresno State football team? Look no further than the outpooring of emotions that came from the 'Dogs as he was stretched out on the field near the sideline, unable to move, after the second play of last night's Fan Preview scrimmage at Bulldog Stadium.

Marcus Riley yelled and pleaded for Haji to get up. Quaadir Brown did the same. Ben Jacobs -- the man who will now take Haji's place as the starting MLB -- yelled just as much. The crowd went dead silent as the players' shouts rang over the field.

"Haji, get up! You're OK Haji! COME ON Haji, get up man, get up! You're OK! ..."

He never did. Couldn't hardly move. Teammates and a former teammate, Dwayne Andrews, had to pick him up and sit him on a cart. It's likely the last time he'll touch the field this season (torn patella tendon).

So, who's going to lead the defense now? Who's going to dominate RBs in blitzing drills? Who's going to amp this team up enough to get back to playing Bulldog Football? Who's going to lead the new team cheer of "Bulldog born, Bulldog bred, gonna be a Bulldog 'til the day I'm dead" ...?

Hopefully, somebody...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Anybody know the Mexican national anthem?

Because Fresno State's Hector Hernandez (nickname: Double H) is playing on the Mexican national basketball team.

Check that, the undefeated powerhouse Mexican national basketball team.

We have no clue how prominent a role Hernandez plays on the team. His stats weren't mentioned in a recent article in the El Paso Times. But apparently, he starts.

And he was the only player quoted on the team.

As a practicing journalist, Simpletext assumes that means he probably speaks better English than some of the other players. Either that or he was the last player left in the locker room.

Or maybe it was his thoughtful, charismatic — definitely-not-coachspeak — answers. (Sarcasm rocks! Read on.)

"I think we played pretty good; most of the time ... not the whole time," Hernandez was quoted as saying in the El Paso Article after a 116-87 win over a team of New Mexico All-Stars at UTEP. "We had our ups and downs. We've got to fix that, fix it where we play the same for 40 minutes and not for 20 or 30 minutes."

Is he talking about basketball or a booty call?

Anyway, Mexico, which was 16-0 after the win and is coached by former UTEP and Arkansas legend Nolan Richardson, is hoping to make it to the Olympics in Beijing.

That would be pretty cool for Hector. We wish him luck.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Greater Expectations

That's exactly what true freshman RB Ryan Mathews just brought upon himself. He told Pat Hill he wants No. 21, so Hill called and asked blast-from-the-past Dale Messer if he would mind letting his jersey come out of retirement for this new kid on the block.

Messer said yes. Alls I know, is the kid better live up to the hype now. Hill must think he will, otherwise he wouldn't have gone to all that trouble.

So what did Mathews do in his days at West High in Bakersfield to deserve such amenities...?

Well, he led the nation in rushing. He turned down a late offer from USC (which should earn him bonus points in everyones' book) and his parents left one of the Ts out of his last name...on purpose!

Try that one on for size Evan O'Dorney!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

You're talkin' about PRACTICE!?

That's right, Day 3 of practice (the veteran session of fall camp, perfectly timed to catch about 30 mins. during your lunch break), to be exact. For mizarkn, the highlight would have been that Heidi Watney was in attendance (media day).

But for the rest of us, here's a rundown:

The WRs and DBs did isolated one-on-one about pressure. It's basically a defender on an island going against the speediest guys on the team.

Sharrod Davis worked with the vets today, and was exposed. That's cause for concern, because he's expected to possibly be the No. 2 or 3 CB (and no less than No. 4). Hopefully he still will be, but he's got a lot of technique work to do, and coach Randy Stewart was letting him know it.
Gotta love Stewart's hands-on fundamental teaching by the way. He's a great (albeit sweaty) coach and it shows in the recent factory of NFL DBs to come out of FS (James Sanders, Marcus McCauley, Richard Marshall, Tyrone Culver, Vernon Fox, Therrian Fontenot).

CBs A.J. Jefferson and Damion Owens both stood out in the drill. S Jake Jorde seemed to lack confidence in his ability to stay with the quicker WRs, namely Seyi Ajirotutu, with coach Stewart calling him out for leaving 10-yard cushions between himself and the WR.

Things heated up in a hurry across the field, as the front 7 of the defense took on the offense (OL, TE, RBs, QB) for handoff drills. The D was fired up in less than a minute when a loud pop rang over the field and everyone turned to see that LB Ahijah Lane had just lowered the boom on FB Nate Adams. After Pat Hill lauded Lane for his efforts, he shouted out, "Hey Nate, Haji Lane is calling you out!"

Lane was popping pads all day long, the coaches were like broken records praising him.

Though RB Jamal Rashad has looked great so far (he worked with the vets today too), his weakness was exposed in a pass-blocking drill where the RB is isolated against a blitzing LB. Every LB Rashad faced easily juked and poked around him, with Ryan Machado abusing him. In the same drill, Lonyae Miller stood out, locking up the LB on every opportunity, as did Nate Adams.

LB Ben Jacobs also struggled to beat his man in the drill, with assistant Tom Mason pulling him aside to instruct him on a proper club-rip technique.

The team was only in shoulder pads and shorts today, and will be up to full pads by Friday, in anticipation of Saturday's 7 p.m. scrimmage at Bulldog Stadium (free admission).


It’s an area that’s often overlooked in football – a place where the backups flood the field to see their only playing time – but special teams has never been overlooked at Fresno State. The Bulldogs were among the nation’s best under assistant John Baxter ever since he came to Fresno with Pat Hill 10 years ago.

But something went awry last year, and the Bulldogs went from the nation’s best kick coverage team to one of the worst. That’s got to change this season, with field position being more important than ever to help an offense that needs to build confidence.

At least dependable kick returners are available. Clifton Smith is one of the nation’s most electrifying return men and is finally back at 100% after his injury in Eugene in 2005. He tried to come back too soon from injury last year and averaged just 7.3 yards per punt return and had no touchdowns. But in 2004 he returned his first-ever attempt for a touchdown, and then had two touchdown returns in three attempts in the 2005 opener before being injured.

Chastin West doesn’t have the agility of Smith, but he wastes no time catching the ball and heading straight up field. He averaged 22 yards per attempt last year, including a 93-yard touchdown return. Others to watch for are Sharrod Davis, who returned kicks as a freshman at Oregon before transferring to a JC and then Fresno State, and true freshman Devon Wylie, who has 4.4 speed.

The kicking game is a little tough to figure out. Senior Clint Stitser (6-1, 200) likely has the strongest leg in school history, but had a long of only 43 yards last year, making 11 of 16 attempts. He’s capable of a far better percentage than that, and has to erase his PAT problems (he missed two last season). Potentially, he should be the WAC’s best kicker, and that’s the expectation for his senior season.

With Mike Lingua injured all of last season, freshman Robert Malone (6-2, 215) took over (only to get injured himself). Senior Kyle Zimmerman (5-11, 200), who’s natural position is placekicker, took the reigns and averaged 36.8 yards per punt. The problem is he forced just 11 fair catches in 42 attempts and pinned just 14 inside the 20. Malone had 20 attempts last year, and is a capable starter as well. He’ll be the punter of the future.

Assuming backup kicking duties is redshirt freshman walk-on Dustin Abrams (6-0, 170). But true freshman Kevin Goessling (5-10, 165) was on of the state’s top kickers out of high school, and will be groomed as Stitser’s eventual replacement.

Rating: 7 of 10

Wright eats wrong stuff

Dwayne Wright spent 13 hours in the hospital being treated for an allergic reaction, according to reports.

The former Fresno State running back said he's fine, but he's apparently allergic to tomato and avocado. That sorry killer tomatoes movie probably scared the crap out of him back in the day.

And we're guessing that's something college defenders wish they knew last year.

What desperate player who'd just been run over for the third time wouldn't have snuck in some tomato soup to smear it on the guy in hopes of getting him out of the game? It's not like those little cans of Campbell's don't cost like 10 cents.

Sucks for Wright, who's expected back at practice Wednesday. He was having a good camp by all accounts.

It also sucks, you know, because he can't eat things like: pizza, ketchup, catsup, spaghetti sauce, V-8, barbecue sauce, and chimichangas (because who'd even want one without guacamole on it?)

Studys show eating tomato can even decrease the risk of prostate cancer by 19 percent.

Good luck with that, Dwayne.

The fuzzy memories of bad columnists

David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press really likes Al Groh.

We can tell because Simpletext read his column Wednesday, and the bozo actually claimed that his favorite coach would be 4-0 in bowl games "had instant replay been around to erase a bogus Fresno State touchdown."

Teel, Teel, Teel.

While it's true that Stephen Spach went down before he got into the end zone in that MPC Computers bowl back in 2004, nobody currently off drugs would claim it wasn't a catch.

The 24-ish-yard pass to Spach came on Fresno State's first play of overtime. The reason nobody made a stink about him being down inches away from scoring a touchdown is because there wasn't one person in the stadium or watching at home that wasn't 100% confident the Bulldogs would nudge it in with four downs from the half-foot line.

But Teel gets a couple years away from something and tries to muddy the waters from his perch on the throne of stupidity.

Listen Teel, take that TD call away, and Fresno State still has an overwhelming chance to win. Not even Groh himself thinks the game would have gone differently. He might be a bad coach, but he's not mentally retarded.

Anybody want to e-mail this moron? Here's his addy: Tell him The Bulldog Bounce sent you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I miss you James

I miss some of our players like James Sanders. He's one of those guys that you knew would give it his all on every single play, no matter what the scoreboard said, or what our record was, or even who we we're playing.

He's responsible.

You can count on him.

He's dedicated.

In order to get back to playing "Bulldog Football" our young guys need to follow suit of men like James Sanders. By no means do I want to discredit our team, but I think we didn't give some of our players from past years enough credit for leading our team to great victories.

The young Bulldogs, I believe, are very capable of great things. Let's just see how it translates onto the field.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Returning: 10
Lost: 4 (Marcus McCauley, Elgin Simmons, Josh Sherley, Vincent Mays)
Incoming: 7

If there’s one area of defense a WAC team needs to be able to count on, it’s the secondary – yet it’s the least solidified of the team’s units. After struggling last season (no interceptions until the eighth game), the Bulldogs now have to do without Marcus McCauley (Vikings).

Taking over the No. 1 cornerback role is senior Damon Jenkins (5-11, 185), who was the only member of the secondary to record an interception last season with three. A former highly-touted recruit, Jenkins will be counted on to not only step up his game and cover the top opposing receiver, but also to lead a squad of underclassmen.

Damion Owens (5-11, 185) and A.J. Jefferson (6-0, 180) both saw time as true freshmen last season, and it’s a good thing, since they’ll be competing for the other starting spot. Jefferson showed a knack for making plays in limited time last season, and has the athleticism reminiscent of a young McCauley. Owens has become a verbal leader in practice, but saw mostly special teams action in 2006.

Junior college transfer Sharrod Davis (5-11, 190), a former Oregon corner and kick returner, is also likely to make an impact. He should be a big boost to a unit that lacks depth and experience. Sophomore walk-on Jason Blackmon (5-10, 170) isn’t likely to see much time.

As many as four true freshmen will start the grooming process in J.J. Stallworth (5-11, 185), Jermaine Thomas (5-11, 180), Isaiah Green (5-10, 180) and Phillip Thomas (6-0, 190). Stallworth, the younger brother of NFL receiver Donte Stallworth is likely to redshirt, as is speedy Green. Jermaine Thomas, the most touted of the newcomers and one of the highest-rated WAC recruits, could compete for immediate playing time. Phillip Thomas has the size that could also allow him to play safety down the road.

Holding down the starting safety spots, for now, are free safety Marvin Haynes (6-1, 195) who became a starter last season, and is capable of running step-for-step with most receivers. His size and long strides make him a weapon. Strong safety Moses Harris (6-1, 200), a former scout team MVP, is known for his hitting the books and his opponents. He didn’t get off to as well of a start as expected last season, but showed maturity in the Spring Game. He’ll have talented redshirt freshman Lorne Bell (5-10, 195) pushing him every step of the way. Bell can lay the hits as well, and has more of a nose for picking off passes. Don't be surprised if Hill finds a way to get him on the field ASAP.

Junior Jake Jorde (6-0, 195) backs up Haynes, and has speed but hasn’t shown the playmaking instincts to become a starter yet. Senior walk-on Brian Gridiron (6-2, 220) adds depth along with true freshmen Terrance Dennis (5-11, 170) and Zak Hill (6-2, 190), Pat Hill’s youngest son. Dennis should be an impact player down the road, but will likely redshirt this season, as will Hill, who was injured during the playoffs for Clovis West last season.

Rating: 6 of 10

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Friday, August 3, 2007

He's the Man(kins)

The Boston Herald has a report on Logan Mankins, and you know you must be a damn good left guard if you're getting feature stories.

In fact, we were thinking about it today while listening to all the Pro Football Hall of Fame talk, and Mankins strikes Simpletext as one of those Bruce Matthews type of lineman who could eventually make the Hall if he hangs around at a dominant level for an extended period.

Heck, they could induct him next year. With that big red Santa beard he has going on, it's hard to tell how old he is.

Seriously, though, who told him to grow that thing. He looks like the red-headed love child of Fidel Castro and Amanda Beard (you know, cause of her last name).

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The D.C. area be lovin' Fresno State today

Not only does Maryland/Virginia/D.C. overcredit Bulldogs softball (see below), the Washington Wizards also apparently like second-round pick Dominic McGuire, who left Fresno State this season with one more year of college eligibility.

It was a big topic of discussion wether or not McGuire should leave for the NBA or stay with the Bulldogs this past year, but he's getting treated like a first-round pick by Washington. The Wizards saw him play five summer league games and gave him three years, which means they can go over the salary cap to sign him when he eventually becomes a free agent.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basketball and softball? Let's get back to the gridiron.

I wish we could claim them

Somebody might be doing some resume inflation.

Either that, or The Connection newspaper in Fairfax, Va., bows five times a day toward Fresno, which Virginians believe to be the Mecca of all softball.

Former Bulldog Carie Dever-Boaz, a three-time All-American at Fresno State from 1989-90, is coaching some professional team out there. And according to The Connection's bio on her for a recent story, she competed in four College World Series and won three NCAA titles with the Bulldogs.

That's three more than Fresno State is claiming before their first-ever national championship in 1998. In a little place we call reality, Fresno State did finish second in the nation to UCLA in all three of Dever-Boaz's All-American years and took fifth in 1997.

Maybe this Dever-Boaz in Virginia is really an imposter from an alternate dimension where Fresno State actually won all those national titles. Or maybe she figures no one will ever call her on a little white lie. She might have never heard of George O'Leary.

Or maybe it's none of those and just a big misunderstanding.

Either way, you know how Pat Hill is always saying the national perception of Fresno State is much better than it is in Fresno? Here's proof he's right.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Returning: 13
Lost: 2
Incoming: 3

It’s an area where Fresno State was exposed last season, and even the year before, being consistently outrun to the edges. The hope is that changes this year, with an injury-plagued unit back in tact.

Senior Ahijah Lane (6-1, 225) has been the constant and has stepped up and played very well, but he’s far from the most talented of the bunch. That title belongs to senior Marcus Riley (6-0, 220) who wasn’t the same last year after injuring his knee against USC in 2005. But Riley was back to his all-over-the-field, pad-popping antics in the Spring Game. The other starting job is likely to go to either senior Trevor Shamblee (once he returns from injury) or sophomore Quaadir Brown (who's suspended for the first game for off-field issues). Both were injured last season, with Brown missing the whole year and getting a medical redshirt. Brown (6-0, 210), a converted running back, played as a true freshman and was impressive, but Shamblee (6-1, 220), a walk-on junior college transfer last year, offers more speed.

This is the deepest unit on the team and probably the toughest to figure out the depth chart. A trio of redshirt freshmen have all looked like potential superstars in practice and scrimmages. The discussion starts with Nico Herron (6-3, 240) who is already showing all the signs of being a team leader – he’s vocal, hard-hitting and talented. He came in highly-touted along with Robert Schenck (6-2, 250), but Ben Jacobs (6-3, 225) has been as impressive, if not more so, than either of them – enough so that he has teammates talking about future All-America talent. But how close are these guys to seeing playing time? That will be decided in fall camp.

Junior Ryan McKinley (6-2, 220) is experienced and was also formerly highly-touted, though he hasn’t yet broken onto the scene the way he was expected to. Sophomore Todd Chisom (6-1, 220) made huge strides in the offseason and could start fall camp with the second string.
Sophomore Ryan Machado (6-0, 210) is a former walk-on who botched the blocked field goal that cost Fresno State the Oregon game last season, but also currently sits second-string on the depth chart. Fellow former walk-ons Frankie Manquero (6-1, 190), Max Navo 6-0, 220) and Tommy Gatta (6-1, 215) are all likely to be passed up by the younger studs about to hit their prime.

All new signees are likely to redshirt, though if this unit wasn’t so deep Kaiser-Fontana’s Chris Carter (6-2, 220) could compete for immediate playing time. He’s a specimen built as well as anyone already in the program and was recruited by several Pac-10 schools. And on tape, Kyle Knox (6-1, 215) looked every bit as impressive on the field, with a knack for getting into the backfield. Austin Raphael (6-2, 225) is more of a raw prospect.

Rating: 7 of 10

Solving Title IX

Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh came out and said the school will implement a new plan to get the department more Title IX compliant. That plan apparently includes adding new women's sports.

Despite producing national championships and Olympic success, the wrestling program, which was dropped last year, won't be brought back to the dismay of many Bulldogs fans.

But before Boeh cements a move to bring in women's bowling, rowing or water polo, we have another suggestion for him. One that will pacify the feminist scholarship dollar counters and the wrestling-starved fans of the central valley.

A women's wrestling team.

Think about it. Who wouldn't want to pay to see this?

You're welcome, Boeh.