OK, so Fresno State was blown out by Boise State and Hawaii, this year. And lost a very close heartbreaker by one point to Nevada - but the truth is, the Bulldogs still won eight (8) games this year, and that is significant. As to the game on Friday night, consider the following...
1. Ryan Colburn
The Bulldogs' senior quarterback won the ball game Friday night, plain and simple. In his home field finale, Colburn was golden. He completed 70% of his passes for 304 yards, 3 touchdowns and NO interceptions, leading the Dogs to a 25-23 win against a Big 10 opponent, the University of Illinois.
Colburn's success was even more brilliant, given the fact that Fresno rushed for a TOTAL of 62 yards... that's it. That means, as everyone who saw the game knows, that the offensive burden for yardage production fell squarely on Colburn's shoulders - and he came through admirably. Since the running game was not working, the passing game had to carry the freight. Ryan looked confident and competent and he delivered a solid QB performance when the Bulldogs desperately needed for him to step up. He did so - in style.
He gets the game ball and a big thank you for a better than average season. For the year, Colburn completed 62% of his passes for 2,500 yards, 21 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions. Thanks Ryan, for a solid year of D1 football.
2. The Fresno D comes through, again.
I guess the "Little Sisters of the Poor" just lowered the boom on Illinois, last night. The Dogs limited the Illini to a total of 81 yards passing. In addition, Fresno sacked the Illinois QB four (4) times, for a total of 27 yards lost yards. DE Chris Carter and DT Logan Harrell got a sack apiece, bringing their totals to 11 and 10.5, respectively.
Then there was safety Lorne Bell. Mr. Bell has long ago established himself as one of the Bulldogs' very best hitters. Last night, he led all tacklers with ten (10) tackles and he had a major impact on the outcome of the contest.
Travis Brown also had another stellar evening. He was all over the field and he added another QB sack to his considerable linebacker resume. Travis is rapidly becoming the ‘Dogs best linebacker.
Speaking of linebackers, MLB Ben Jacobs had another solid outing. He has done that for some time, now. The Illinois game marked fifty-one (51) consecutive starts for the outstanding Bulldog LB, just three shy of an NCAA record. Thanks, Ben, for your passion and consistent effort. You have been a great role model for all Bulldog footballers.
3. Doing it the Pat Hill way...
To put it bluntly, the Bulldogs won ugly, in classic Pat Hill style. How so?
Well, consider the fact that the ‘Dogs scored 16 points, in the first quarter...! With a similar quarterly output for all 4 quarters, Fresno could have (should have) scored 64 points in the game.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were only to score a total of 9 points for the rest of the game.
Something seems to happen to Pat Hill teams, once a solid lead is established. It is almost as Pat switches over from "playing to win" - to "playing not to lose"... two very different mindsets, to be sure.
It becomes a "defensive offense,” where Hill desperately tries to protect his lead, to run out the clock, to play ball control football and a Pat Hill brand of "keep away.”
Sometimes it works, to be sure, and it did, last night. But it is ugly football and ultimately discouraging to players and fans, alike. It is a non-verbal statement to the team, which says - "You were lucky to get this lead. I don't trust you to continue your success. We are going to sit on the ball and sit on our lead and try to run the clock down."
That's the way to blow 'em out of the stadium. Way to go, buddy.
4. Jalen Saunders
That 78-yard pass play to Saunders was a thing of beauty. Colburn delivered the ball with exquisite timing, hitting the speeding Jalen Saunders in stride for a TD strike. Lovely play.
5. Upcoming Bowl Invite?
It looks like Humanitarian vs. 10-3 Northern Illinois, definitely not New Mexico, though (and that is fine with me). We shall see.
Redroadster is highly regarded attorney in the Central Valley, a loyal Bulldog fan, and a regular poster/contributor on BarkBoard.com. Check in time to time for his take on games and other Bulldog athletic events in his View from the Roadster.
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