NCAA Football

2011 College Football Season Preview: Fresno State Bulldogs

| by

2010 Record: (8-5, 5-3 in WAC)

Head Coach: Pat Hill (108-71 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2010 Humanitarian Bowl (lost to Northern Illinois 40-17)

2010 Preview

2010 Exit Survey


9/3: at California

9/10: at Nebraska

9/17: North Dakota

9/24: at Idaho (2010 result: won 23-20)

10/1: Ole Miss (2010 result: lost 55-38)

10/7: Boise State (2010 result: lost 51-0)

10/15: Utah State (2010 result: won 41-24)

10/22: at Nevada (2010 result: lost 35-34)

11/5: Louisiana Tech (2010 result: won 40-34)

11/12: at New Mexico State (2010 result: won 33-10)

11/20: at Hawaii (2010 result: lost 49-27)

11/26: San Jose State (2010 result: won 33-18)

12/3: at San Diego State

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 29.0 ppg (4th in WAC, 48th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 150.62 yds/game (5th in WAC, 65th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 220.0 yds/game (6th in WAC, 61st in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 370.6 yds/game (6th in WAC, 70th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 30.0 ppg (5th in WAC, 83rd in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 158.46 yds/game (4th in WAC, 66th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 208.8 yds/game (2nd in WAC, 46th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 367.2 yds/game (4th in WAC, 59th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -0.85 per game (last in WAC, 111th in Nation)

Penalties: 49.4 yds/game (2nd in WAC, 48th in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 5

Defense: 5

Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Derek Carr, Soph (6 of 14 for 112 yds)*

Rushing: RB Robbie Rouse, Soph (205 for 1129, 5.5 ypc, 8 TD)

Receiving: WR Rashad Evans, Jr (39 rec for 424 yds, 4 TD)

Tackles: LB Travis Brown, Jr (79)

Sacks: DT Logan Harrell, Sr (10.5)

Interceptions: FS Phillip Thomas, Jr (3)

*stats are from 2009

Bowl Predictions:

Athlon Sports: Humanitarian (vs. Ohio)

Phil Steele: Humanitarian (vs Western Michigan)

Since coming to Fresno State in 1997 Pat Hill has posted 11 winning seasons in his 14 years with the Bulldogs. If you take out his first two years then he has 11 out of 12 winning seasons. In that time, only once did Fresno State take a piece of the WAC Championship as they finished in a three-way tie for the title in 1999 with Billy Volek at QB. The time is now for the Bulldogs as the WAC has been abandoned by the big boys and Nevada, Hawaii and Fresno are left at the top of the conference to battle it out.

Fresno State losses it's starting QB but a familiar name steps up in his place as Derek Carr, brother of David Carr, will be the man this year for the Bulldogs. Along with RB Robbie Rouse it could be a pretty good combination for the Bulldogs. Last year the Bulldogs got flattened by Hawaii by 22 points and lost to a Colin Kaepernick led Nevada team by a single digit. This year the Bulldogs play both of it's primary WAC competitiors on the road. The Bulldogs also have a very formidable non-conference schedule as they play at Cal, at Nebraska, host Ole Miss, host Boise State and play at San Diego State. This is an important year for Fresno to reach up and grab the WAC by the throat, can they do it?

We caught up with Todd Kaufmann, Senior Writer/Recruiting Lead for National Football Authority and Columnist for Sports Page Dallas, to get his take on the 2011 Bulldogs.

We talked about Pat Hill in our 2010 Exit Survey. Has Hill done anything this spring to turn up the expectations at Fresno State and get the team to the next level or has it been business as usual?'

If you believe all the Fresno State fans and the hype surrounding quarterback Derek Carr then the expectations are already high. It's a lot to put on one players shoulders but when you're the brother of one of the best quarterbacks in Fresno State history I guess it comes with the territory. I remember talking to former Fresno State defensive end Chris Carter a few days after he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and he told me the 2010 recruiting class was the best he's seen since he was a freshman. Coming from Carter I think that says a lot about what this team could be in 2011. Will they be any different than the last few years? I don't know. I'm going to reserve judgement until they show something more on the field.

For those that don't follow the Bulldogs that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.

First guy you have to look at is running back Robbie Rouse. At 5-foot-7 and 185 pounds there is a reason he earned the nickname "Mighty Mouse" from his teammates even before All-American running back Ryan Mathews had exited for the NFL. He's a strong runner even between the tackles and has 4.43 speed in the 40 so you know he get it going in the open field. He's a small back so he's not going to be the easiest player for defenders to tackle. Rouse finished with over 1,000 yards rushing last season (1,129) and eight touchdowns with a 5.5 yard per carry average. If he stays healthy he is going to be fun to watch.

One player, outside of Carr, who's getting a lot of attention is wide receiver Victor Dean. He was a highly touted recruit when Fresno State signed him as part of the 2010 recruiting class. He's listed at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and will be a redshirt freshman this season which means he has all the time in the world to become a star for this team. During his senior year of high school, he had five games of more than 100 yards receiving, a single game high of 329 yards, and finished the season with 1,491 receving yards and an astounding 22 yards per catch average.  

Who are some newcomers that can come in and immediately help this year?

There's no question Dean is going to be a huge factor for this team not only for his ability but he's going to be a big target for Carr to hit down the sidelines or across the field. That combination, Carr and Dean, could prove deadly for Fresno State this season.

Another guy who could be interesting to watch is UCLA transfer Milton Knox. He sat out last season but I think he'll be a big time player behind Rouse this season. This is a guy who rushed for over 2,000 yards (2,210) and 39 touchdowns his senior year at Birmingham High School. You know Pat Hill won't be able to resist having both him and Rouse in the backfield together.

On defense I would keep my eye on freshman Ofa Fafita who played well during the team's final spring scrimmage. I think a lot is going to be expected of him but he should be up to the challenge.  

Fresno State plays a really tough out of conference schedule this year. They have Nebraska, Boise State, Ole Miss and Cal. Which of those games does Fresno have a legitimate shot at winning?

Looking at any one of those games it's hard for me to point at one and say that's the game they can absolutely win. If this team is as talented as some are saying they can be, they should be able to split those four games. Nebraska, Boise State and Ole Miss are going to be tough teams to deal with but with Boise and Ole Miss coming at Bulldog Stadium it definitely gives them a legit shot to pull off a shocker. I think Nebraska is going to be too much especially on the road. This is going to be one of the best teams in college football this season but it might be interesting to see how this young team stacks up against them.

The one I'll point at as winnable is against Cal up at Candlestick Park. Head coach Jeff Tedford is on the hot seat and I think desperately needs a winning season to keep his job. But we're forgetting about one key game and it comes at the very end of the schedule. San Diego State. This is a game that will really define Fresno State's season. This is not the same old Aztec team that Fresno State used to beat up on, at least after Marshall Faulk finally left town.    

Looking at the schedule, what are the games that Fresno just cannot lose this year?

I think Fresno State can afford to drop a game against Hawaii or Nevada but not both. Outside of that they can NOT afford to lose games to anyone else in conference if Hill wants to finally get that "conference championship monkey" off his back. Louisiana Tech, Utah State, San Jose State, Idaho and New Mexico State all need to be W's in the win column. Losing even one to any of these teams, in my opinion, is unacceptable.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

They have 13 games on the schedule this season and I think they HAVE to be at least 8-4 heading into their showdown with San Diego State. That's the best case scenario as far as I'm concerned. What makes a successful season in my eyes? Honestly I'll take 9-4 heading into a bowl game as a successful regular season. But the only way my opinion changes on their season is if they lose that bowl game. A 9-4 regular season and a win in a bowl game to finish 10-4 would be a great season for this team.

Next Preview: Northwestern

2011 Team Previews

ACC- Boston College, Clemson, Miami, NC State

Big 12- Baylor , Texas Tech

Big East- Louisville

Big Ten- Minnesota , Penn St

C-USA- East Carolina, Houston , Marshall, SMU, Southern Mississippi, UAB, UCF

Independent- Army

MAC- Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo , Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo

MWC- New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming

Sun Belt- FAU, FIU, Louisiana, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy , ULM, Western Kentucky

WAC- Idaho, San Jose St