Fresno State Head Coach Pat Hill has the
advantage of having 17 starters return from last year's bowl team and that's
a solid foundation for the fall. All
five members of a talented offensive line are back.
And with a year's experience under his belt, quarterback Ryan Colburn
should be a reliable leader.
Colburn (6-3, 220) was 181-298 last season for 2,459 yards and 19 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He has great size and can move around enough to buy time. He just needs to cut down on the mistakes, although to be fair, he did seem to do that in the latter part of the season. He threw seven interceptions in
Derek Carr (6-3, 190) burned his redshirt
year last season but only saw limited duty, hitting 10-of-14 for 112 yards.
He needs to work on his build and learn the offense.
Kelly O'Brien was a good pickup from the junior college ranks.
O'Brien (6-6, 210) has a strong arm and good football knowledge (he is
the son of former NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien.)
Matthews was superb last year (1,808 yards
and 19 touchdowns) and gained respect nationally for what he could do running
the football. His decision to depart
early for the National Football League will hurt the team.
Those kind of moves are sometimes good for the individual (although he
misses out on completing his schooling) but they are bad for the team concept.
That said, Robbie Rouse proved he could be a force last season as a true
freshman and now he gets a chance to shine.
Rouse gained 479 yards on 82 carries and scored 4 touchdowns.
There is no doubt that Rouse (5-7, 185, So.) has to be a star this fall
for the Bulldogs to succeed.
A.J. Ellis (5-11, 180, So.) barely got his
feet wet last season but he'll be counted on for a good portion of the work
this fall. Ellis has good speed and
athleticism. Michael Harris (5-11,
200, So.) is the biggest of the Bulldog runners.
He averaged 9.73 yards per carry in his final year of high school and
Coach Hill is hoping he can make his presence known.
Junior Austin Raphael (6-2, 230) started
out as a linebacker but will play fullback when called upon in the
Jamel Hamler is the top returning receiver
with 37 catches for 503 yards and 5 scores.
With 3 of the top wideouts gone, Hamler (6-2, 205, Jr.) is the man.
Hamler has great hands and with his size, he can catch in a crowd and
take the tough hits. With more of an
emphasis on the passing game, Hamler needs to be a major factor.
Senior Devon Wylie (5-9, 170) battled injuries last season and finished
with just 17 catches for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Sophomore Rashad Evans (5-9, 180, So.) will be a familiar name across the
Western Athletic Conference this season. Evans
had 21 catches for 232 yards as a freshman in 2008 but he missed the entire 2009
campaign with a bad hamstring. Evans
has great speed and enjoyed a good spring. Plus,
he is stronger than before after hitting the weight room hard.
Redshirt freshman A.J. Johnson (6-0, 180)
was a high school quarterback and is trying to make the transition to receiver.
He was impressive in the spring and with his speed is a deep-ball threat.
True freshman Davon Dunn (5-11, 175) was a gem in the 2010 recruiting
class. He could have played anywhere
in the Pac-10 but chose
Senior tight end Vince Pascoe (6-0, 230) is
a good blocker but needs to become a factor in the passing game.
Joe Bernardi (6-2, 280, Sr.) is back at center for the Bulldogs. He had nagging injury problems last year but is a tough, physical competitor and a leader on the line.
Sophomore Matt Hunt (6-2, 315) has been
impressive in practice. He can play
if needed but with the consistency shown by the starters, his time is next year.
Leslie Cooper (6-4, 305, Jr.) saw plenty of playing time last year.
Cooper is strong and could play either guard spot.
The line helped
Defensive coordinator Randy Stewart is
calling on his unit to step it up this fall.
The Bulldogs were 111th against the run and second-to-last in
sacks. Stewart also wants the
defense to be more aggressive and force more turnovers.
Chris Carter (6-2, 230, Sr.) had five sacks
last year but, as the leader of the defensive line, that total needs to double.
Carter has good speed and quickness, getting 13 tackles for loss last
season. Logan Harrell (6-2, 275,
Jr.) needs to have a good year to help Carter.
Harrell will be the newcomer to the starting unit.
He provides a good pass rusher who is quick off the ball.
Senior Chris Lewis (6-3, 260) started every game at tackle, making 20
tackles with a pick and 4.5 tackles for loss.
He will move to the outside to give the Bulldogs more bulk opposite
Carter. Lewis is a transfer from
Miami of Florida who is physical and can now use his athleticism to give
Junior Chase McEntee (6-3, 265) will see
playing time at nose tackle as well. McEntee
was credited with 19 tackles and 3.5 for loss.
Chase is tough, quick and athletic. Redshirt
freshman Nat Harrison (6-2, 215) isn't big but he's quick and gives the
Bulldogs a good pass rusher at end. Andy Jennings (6-2, 250) is another redshirt freshman who will be counted on to be a quick pass rusher but won't see significant time until he bulks up and can be
more of a force against the run.
Linebacker Ben Jacobs (6-3, 225, Sr.) leads
by example. The WAC all-star has
great range, size (6-3, 225), and playmaking ability. He is among the best
linebackers in the country, making 106 tackles last year with 8 for loss, 3
forced fumbles, 3 recoveries and an interception.
Jacobs had 60 solo stops in 2009. He
has good speed, great instincts and an ability to get to the ball carrier.
Junior Kyle Knox (6-1, 215) is back on the weakside after making 32
tackles, 5.5 for loss last season. Knox
is a great athlete who moves well but he needs to improve his pass coverage.
Sophomore Travis Brown looks to take over the position at strongside
backer. Brown (6-2, 235), the son of
the late Fresno State defensive coordinator and former Boise State star linebacker Dan Brown,
showed good hitting ability as a
true freshman last season with 24 stops. Travis
has good size, football intelligence and heart that could make him a key factor
on the Bulldog defense. He'll jar
some ball carriers and needs to shore up that side of the Bulldog defense to take
the pressure off of Jacobs.
Shawn Plummer (6-0, 200, Jr.) had 25
tackles, 3 for loss, with 3 pass breakups. Plummer
isn't big but he has speed that Bulldog coaches are hoping translates into a
better pass rusher. Jeremiah Toma is
the heir apparent to Jacobs. Toma
(6-0, 215, Fr.) had 165 tackles for his
Sophomore cornerback Jermaine Thomas (5-11,
180) is one of the best pro prospects on the team. Thomas is the nephew of former
True freshman Ed Dillihunt (6-0, 190) is expected to make an immediate impact in nickel and dime coverage.
Junior placekicker Kevin Goessling has been
superb, hitting 15-of-22 field goals (including a 58-yarder) as a freshman and
15-16 last season. Goessling was an
easy choice for the WAC first team last year and could be a Lou Groza Award
Robert Malone averaged 45.2 yards per kick last year, but Matt Darr (6-2, 210,
Fr.) was headed to USC until Coach Pete Carroll left, and is thought to be the
top punting prospect in the nation. Darr
carries a 4.0 GPA with track star speed. Andrew Shapiro will also
challenge for the job.
Wylie averaged 8.9 yards on punt returns last year, and Evans will be a dangerous kickoff returner this year.
In the WAC,