Monday, November 22, 2010

Fresno State's Got Talent

The strangest thing happened today. During the Pat Hill Show on KMJ 580 (which should be uploaded to podcast by tomorrow), Hill said boise state is more talented than Fresno State. Just about the time I realized what he'd said, and concluded that I must have misheard, he alluded to it again. And from the sound of things, he didn't think it was very close.

In the past, that's never been the case. The Bulldogs have almost assuredly had more talent than the Broncos 8 of the past 10 years. And with what seems like a loaded Bulldogs roster this season, it was someone surprising to hear Hill talk as if the talent difference is an issue.

But let's look deeper. And yes, this blog post required my visiting the official boise state athletics site to make sure I had the most up to date stats. I don't make a habit of visiting such sites, and am all for parents blocking said site from their children by any means necessary. So I quickly looked at the stats, cleared my browser history and ran to the bathroom to wash my hands -- twice.

So, is boise state really THAT much more talented than Fresno State right now...?

Obviously, and this is probably the most painful sports-related thing I've ever written, QB Kellen Moore is the best player in the country. He puts balls in his receivers' hands ever so gently, and right on the mark -- every time. No matter how tight the coverage (ask Isaiah Green) the ball is always catchable. Fresno State QB Ryan Colburn (a sixth-year senior counting the greyshirt year) struggled mightily on Friday night, completing just 6 of 23 passes for 76 yards with 2 interceptions. And, once again, looked miserable in blitz situations and delayed in decision-making. So that's one big edge for boise state.

But Fresno State's Robbie Rouse, 12th in the nation in rushing yards per game, is as good as anyone boise has and the wide receiving corps is ridiculously deep. The Bulldogs don't have anyone as dominant as Titus Young or Austin Pettis right now, but have an NFL-caliber target in Jamel Hamler and are far superior in depth at the position.

That brings us to the offensive line, which might be the answer. Fresno State is traditionally among the nation's leaders in sacks allowed, but this season has given up a whopping 25 sacks in 10 games. For a team that only passes 41% of its plays, and was projected as one of the nation's top lines in the preseason, that's insanely high. In comparison, boise state's line has given up 5 sacks on the season. Now, granted, part of that can be attributed to Moore make better, quicker decisions under pressure than Colburn does -- but part is also due to protection and picking up blitzes. boise state also averages 5.3 yards per carry, while Fresno State is at 4.3. Pat Hill use to preach that games are won and lost in the trenches, and he might still say that. If so, a lot of blame for Friday's 51-0 debacle lies here.

While boise state's defensive line is incredible, and leads the nation with 39 sacks, the Bulldogs also boast a very good defensive front (27 sacks). Chris Carter is perhaps as good any player on either line, and is tied for the WAC lead in sacks with teammate Logan Harrell (9 each). The difference is boise state has four dominant defensive linemen, while Fresno State has two, an above average DT Cornell Banks and an average Chris Lewis at the other DE spot (he was injured vs. boise).

Both teams have comparable linebackers, and Fresno State's Travis Brown is perhaps the best of any of them. Defensive backs are also comparable, with Phillip Thomas perhaps the best safety and Jermaine Thomas the best CB (although he missed the game with injury). That said, Will Venable is a force at whatever they call his hybrid position.

It'd be wonderful to hear Hill break down the talent difference by position (we won't hold our breath), but analyzing the rosters makes one wonder if he's really talking mostly about the QB position, with the offensive line a close second...?

Or is the real difference in how the two teams are coaching their talent...?


  1. What a bitter, awful rant. Doug Martin is better than Rouse, both of Boise's safetys are better than Fresno's, and Boise has 3 CBs that could start for your team. They're more talented than you all over the field and it showed. Will Venable plays for the Padres, you idiot, unless that was a lame attempt at humor.

  2. Remember when Kevan at OBNUG said we write from the "smart fan" perspective? This is why. boise has pretty much no weaknesses, but individually the Fresno State talent is at least comparable. Only a boise fan could turn in such a huge 51-0 win and still be angry. But you're right, I'm just bitter...

    Iloka, Thompson, Johnson, etc. They're all good players. But if you dont realize how good Phil Thomas and Jermaine Thomas are that's your bad, not mine. (Hint they'll both be in the NFL, and they're both sophomores). Trust us, we Fresno State people have gotten pretty good at recognizing NFL players...

  3. Not angry, it's just funny that you can't accept Boise's team is more talented across the board, after getting manhandled like that. Boise State is an elite team this year and Fresno State is yet another middling team that most people will use to knock Boise's schedule. I'm not even a BSU fan. All WAC defense should be over half Boise players this year.

  4. Would you like to amend any of the above statement...?


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