Sunday, August 17, 2008


Players returning: 3
Incoming: 1
Lost: 0

The hope is to never need to rely on depth at quarterback, but just in case Fresno State is probably the deepest it has ever been. Third-year starter Tom Brandstater (6-5, 225) returns for his senior campaign after propelling himself into one of the top NFL Draft prospects at the position. Coming off a dreadful 2006 season of 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, Brandstater threw for 15 scores and just 5 picks last season. He also upped his completion percentage from 54.5% to 62.5%, capping the season with an MVP performance in the Humanitarian Bowl win over Georgia Tech. For most of the 2007 season, Brandstater turned in solid, yet unspectacular performances. But the real breakout came in the final four games (against Hawaii, Kansas State, New Mexico State and Georgia Tech) when he threw for 1,012 yards, 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Brandstater hasn’t relied on his speed (which is still somewhat of a secret) much to this point in his career, but expect to see him tucking the ball and running more often this season.

Sophomore Ryan Colburn (6-3, 220) has a stranglehold on the No. 2 job. After a shaky spring camp, it looked as if Colburn might not be progressing as expected. Forget all that. The southpaw arguably had the best first week of fall camp of anyone on the roster. Plug him in during practice and the first-team offense clicks on all the same cylinders. Still, he lacks the game experience, with just 4 completions for 58 yards under his belt. Colburn can’t launch the ball as far as Brandstater, but has made strides in improving the speed of his decision making and accuracy. The fact that he could be a body double for David Carr brings back some refreshing memories as well.

Matt Faulkner (6-2, 195) comes off his redshirt season as the third-stringer. But he offers some impressive tools, namely his great touch on the deep ball. Faulkner is one of those guys who makes it look effortless when he throws the ball. Coming out of Marcus High in Texas last year, Faulkner performed better in simulated game situations than in practice. But he’s still got a ways to go in adjusting to the college level and turning the game into second nature.

Speaking of quarterbacks who are true gamers, true freshman Ebahn Feathers (6-1, 210) is one of the most highly anticipated recruits in Fresno State history out of nearby Washington Union HS. Though his height may be a tad exaggerated, he has been clocked at 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. No Bulldogs quarterback in history has been anywhere near this fast or athletic. Feathers got off to a very rough start in fall camp, missing receivers by as much as five yards on short slant routes. But new offensive coordinator and former NFL quarterback Doug Nussmeier is already hard at work with Feathers on teaching him the finer points, such as footwork. Still, after all the bad practice passes, Feathers shined in the first fall scrimmage, completing 7 of 8 passes for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing 6 times for 80 yards. On one play, Feathers rolled out on a keeper and burned past the defense for 59 yards until he was caught at the 2-yard line. Because of his versatility and the verbal commitment of Carr’s younger brother Derek Carr for the 2009 season, Feathers is likely to play as a true freshman with a special package of plays designed for him by the coaching staff.

Rating: 8 of 10

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