Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blog Roundtable #5

Tell the world where teams you know most about should be ranked and why?

Since I am a left coaster, native Californian and live in the "football Mecca" of Fresno, USC is the obvious #1 and Cal is deserving of a #21 ranking. But, I'll focus on two of the biggest non-BCS teams from the WAC getting all the pub, Fresno State and Boise State.

Lets start with Boise State. Don't rank this team just because they have finished in the top 15 the last three years and they return a boatload of starters. Last year was a rebuilding year, and the Broncos went 11-0, but who did they really beat? Oregon State? Fresno State? For those who actually saw the Liberty Bowl, realized how vulnerable BSU was? If it was not for turnovers by Louisville, the Cardinals blow out BSU and the Broncos are not getting all this preseason hype. Jared Zabransky is a bit overrated. Yes, he was able to run the Bronco offense as an inexperienced Soph, but he threw too many interceptions and relied on his physical ability too much. The running game is very underrated. Boise has a good offensive line led by All-American tackle Daryn Colledge and a stable of decent running backs. There is no gamebreaker at running back or receiver, but Boise always find some walk on "white guy"(Oregon State transfer Cole Clausen) to step up and they signed prep star Jeremy Childs and JC standout Jerard Rabb.

Defensively, the Bronco run defense is not as good as the stats say. Louisville ran all over this defense, and the Bronco DB's can get beat deep, need proof watch last year's game against Todd Watkins and BYU. The Bronco's defense succeeds because the offense is good enough to jump ahead by two or three touchdowns, forcing teams to pass before establishing a ground game.

The Broncos are a borderline top 25 team, but if you believe Zabransky will cut down on his mistakes and the new receivers will step up, I see Boise State being a legit number 20-25 ranked team.

Fresno State puzzles me. As an alum and hometown fan I see the local hype, read the paper, and listen to local sports radio. The national media has been a bit more conservative, yet do rank Fresno State at or near the top 25. Fresno State does have it's most talented team ever. That is the truth, based on that, I would rank them a solid number 15-18, but this team does have some lingering intensity questions marks. In 2001 and last year the nation saw that a Pat Hill coached team is capable of beating some of the nation's better teams, but the same coached team fall flat on their face against the WAC. This team can whip Oregon and Toledo with ease in September, but then struggle and loose at Hawaii in October. Based on their recent history I would rank them around 30-35 and let them prove themselves throughout the season.

There is not a better stable of running backs on the West Coast this side of Southern California. Bryson Sumlin is the returning starter. The former walk on should have another 1,000 yards if he gets the carries. DeWayne Wright was a 1,000 yard rusher in 03 and is recovering from a knee injury which cost him all but two games last year. He should be back by Oct, but could miss the entire year. Wendell Mathis is the underrated guy of the bunch, but the best. The former prep All-American and UCLA transfer, is a speedy change up compared to the power of Sumlin. He should lead the team in rushing if given the carries. The offensive line is good. Pat Hill has wavered from a big OL to a leaner mobile line. The receivers are deep, but there is no gamebreaker or go to guy, but junior Paul Williams is ready to break out after a good spring. The offense as good as it is, rests on the shoulders of senior quarterback Paul Pinegar. When on, there are very few in America that can match his poise and leadership. When rattled, his mistakes come at inopportune times and shake the stability of the offense.

On defense the Bulldogs are loaded in the back seven, but need major help up front. Garrett McIntyre is a force up front, whether at tackle or defensive end. The young DTs need to mesh soon or else teams will run away from McIntyre at one end. Last year's experienced DL did not do so well against the run, so the young talent can only improve. The pass defense is top notch should rank at or near the top 15 in the country.

Fresno State has history of starting great, withering midway throughout the year, and finishing strong. There is no denying the talent, but the coaches need to keep the players motivated in October, between the games against Oregon, Toledo and Boise State and USC. This team can be ranked anywhere between 15 to 35 without argument.

For the record, I will not have Boise State or Fresno State ranked in my top 25 to start the season.


Anonymous Julian said...

You're right about Fresno losing that cutting edge intensity towards the middle of the season. Yes, the WAC is lighter this year. I expect Fresno to be great however I do see them dropping that 1 random WAC game. Hopefully not. I think Hill & Co. pull it out at Hawaii.


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