Bark Board Exclusive Q & A Session With Local Native Carter Todd (WR)…
Inside Access From Jerry McKune
Jerry McKune can be credited with being the "DoggFather" and prior proprietor to The Bark Board. From just a simple email list and name back in 1997 has evolved into one of the most informative and #1 "unofficial" Fresno State Fan Site.
What following 2006 recruits do you believe will make an immediate impact on the team?
Mike Stuart is going to be an impact guy. He's the most physically mature of all the recruits because he's already been at USC and at Moorpark College. I saw him at the spring game. He is a man-child. I expect him to see a lot downs this year. Lonyae Miller is going to make an impact early in his career. He's another guy who is at another level physically. Damion Owens has a shot to play right away. Coaches are expecting him to come in and compete for the starting CB position vacated by Richard Marshall.
Concerning our new football staff, what do you feel they bring to the table?
I am really excited about Derek Frazier and Tim Skipper being added to the staff. I have known Derek for several years, back to when he was a graduate assistant here under Coach Wagner and then Coach Weber. You won't find a harder working guy around. In my opinion, there will be no drop off in OL production. I have known Timmy since he was a freshman at Fresno State. He has football in his blood. His dad is an amazing coach (Jim Skipper) who has coached for decades in the NFL. He has mentored All Pro NFL guys at the RB position. Tim's brother Kelly (who coached and played RB at Fresno State as well) is another tremendous resource. I know some people are concerned Timmy has never coached RB before, but good coaches can coach most positions. With all the talent he has to work with, and a very talented OL, I think the pieces are in place for him to coach a very successful unit.
I have not had the chance to meet new graduate assistant Andy Buh (pronounced Boo), but I have heard he's also a huge pick up for Fresno State. He was LB coach at San Diego State under Tom Craft, and they had several guys go to the NFL and be very success. Kirk Morrison, Heath Farwell and Matt McCoy are probably the biggest names. But they have a few other guys who made NFL rosters. You can never have too many good coaches on your staff.
Brandstater or Norton?
Hard one to answer right now. But if I had to guess, I'd say it's Tommy's job to lose at this point. I know Coach Hill has said it's still up in the air, but I think Tommy has done some really good things, plus he's the most physically mature right now of the two. In order for Sean or Ryan to have unseated Tommy, they would have had to really set the world on fire. And while I think they have done well, they just have not made it a no-brainer choice. Sean is going to be a very good QB, as will Ryan, but right now I think it's Tommy's team. Hopefully we'll know by the time spring ball is over, but it wouldn't surprise me to see this thing extend to fall practice.
What makes this team different from prior years?
Depth on the DL and WR.
In past year's Fresno State has had good DL. In 2001, it was a very solid front four, but beyond the starting four, it was kind of sketchy. This year having both inside guys, Jason Shirley and Louis Leonard come back is huge. I think they are as good a pair as you'll find. They pretty much made LenDale White useless in the USC game by clogging the middle. Now you have Marlon Brisco and Tyler Clutts coming back after they started to assert themselves at the end of last season. Plus you've got two highly regarded, and highly athletic guys coming in who have not even taken a snap yet in Jason Roberts and Mike Stuart. And then you factor in young guys like Kenny Avon and Jon Monga starting to assert themselves and you could have a very good 8 man rotation. If you can keep guys fresh, and get consistent pressure on the QB with just the front 4, you are going to win a lot of ball games. Coach Hill told me one the best defenses on any level are the ones that can pressure the QB with only 4 guys rushing.
In 2001, Fresno State did not have a lot of weapons for David Carr. Rodney Wright was solid, but he was 5'8". Bernard Berrian was a true sophomore, and beyond that was a lot of inexperience. But the team was still able to effectively throw the ball. Now you've got Paul Williams, who is physically the best WR I have ever seen at Fresno State. And then you've got Joe Fernandez and Jaron Fairman returning, plus a couple of really exciting freshmen in Chastin West, Marlin Moore and Jason Crawley. Seyi Ajirotutu has also really impressed me, but he's out for the rest of spring with a knee injury. For the first time under Coach Hill, Fresno State has multiple game breaking WR.
How has Pat Hill adjusted after last seasons 4 straight losses? Does Nevada have a chance in our upcoming opening game?
Any team can beat another on any given day. Nevada beat Fresno State last year because they executed their plan better. Chris Ault is a phenomenal coach. He's had a high level of success for most of his career. Nevada dominated D-1AA for many years, and when they moved up to 1A, they didn't skip a beat. I remember back in 1994 they came into Bulldog Stadium and cleaned our clock, 62-35 and it wasn't even that close. Last year Chris Ault basically invented the pistol offense to compliment the personnel he had. They got to a bowl game for the first time in years. They will be a challenge, but that game has huge ramifications. It's a WAC game right out of the gate, and the winner has the upper hand on winning the conference. But Fresno State will have some advantages as well. It's at home, and it should be a nice toasty 100 degrees at kickoff which the Bulldogs will have practiced in all August. Also, I think last year's defense had some trouble adjusting to the pistol in the first half. No matter how much game film you watch, nothing compares to live action in getting you ready.
Fresno State has had great success in the NFL, which players do you see continuting on that tradition?
Richard Marshall is going to be a very good NFL DB for many years. I had one scout tell me he was in the same category as Rodney Harrison of the Patriots who is considered the best tackling DB in the NFL. I think Rich could have used one more year in college to hone his skills, but he's getting married soon and you can't fault a guy for trying to make his way in the world.
Pinegar has a shot because of his size and ability to read defenses to make his way on a roster as a backup much like Billy Volek.
Mathis has some good combine numbers, and along with his production should get him drafted on the second day. Sumlin will make a roster because he'll work harder than anyone else, and NFL rosters are full of those guys. Adam Jennings has a shot to be drafted late, but should catch on as a free agent at the very least. He'll have a chance to prove himself on special teams because of his speed.
Garrett McIntyre is another guy who will make a roster as well because of his work ethic and intensity.
As to guys currently on the roster with a shot at the NFL...Marcus McCauley probably could have come out early this year as well. Jason Shirley's size and strength will get him a lot of looks. If Allen Goodwin has a very good year he could help himself because he has the prototypical size you like. Paul Williams is the top prospect overall. He has freakish athleticism, and is starting to put it all together on the field. He reminds me a lot of Braylon Edwards coming out of Michigan last year. If he has a great season, I could see him being a first rounder. Dwayne Wright could also be a high round guy at some point. Kyle Young and Chris Denman stand out on the OL because of their size. There are a bunch of young guys who if they progress will be in a position to go to the next level, but those are the immediate guys I see with a shot.
How important is Mike Martz and bringing back former players/coaches to the program? Is Fresno State growing it's "gameday" experience for the fans?
I think getting him to come and speak is fantastic. One thing Coach Hill has always talked about is developing traditions. There is not better way to celebrate tradition than bringing guys back. Not only does it bring memories back for the long time fans, but it gives newer fans a sense of where Fresno State has been. There is a long list of players and coaches who have made an impact in the NFL and in college football and it's good to see that being recognized.
I don't know all the specifics, but I know Paul Ladwig is working very hard to make coming to games an event the whole family enjoys. For many years, the games sold themselves. People had their tailgate traditions, and would just show up because it's what they always did. But Fresno has grown a lot in the last 10 years. Being the 6th largest city in California, you have a lot of competition for your entertainment dollars. Obviously not as much as the Bay Area or LA, but enough to warrant aggressive marketing for sports events at Fresno State. Just look at all the marketing the Grizzlies(AAA baseball) and Falcons (ECHL hockey) do. I'm really pleased at the direction things seem to be going. If they continue to market aggressively, every game will be a sellout.
How is Clifton Smith's health? When should we expect him back?
He still hasn't been cleared to practice, but he's working hard I know. Right now I think it would be an aggressive timeline to see him back for the start of the season, but it's possible. The team learned a lot from Dwayne's injury, and I think for Clifton's benefit they will err on the side of caution and take it slow.
Not to talk in circles, but it will all depend where he stands at the start of fall practice. If he continues to rehab, and the doctors clear him for fall practice, he will likely play early. If he can't practice till late August or mid-September, I'd say the liklihood of him playing decreases. Still a wait and see.
Over the years you have watched The Bark Board grow since creating it, did you ever imagine it would grow to become a medium for fans of Fresno State and many in the media?
I hoped it would. But I never anticipated people making money off of it. Making money was never my goal, but when I faced the decision of abandon the board completely, or sign up with a network so they could pay my hosting and bandwidth costs, I couldn't resist. The Bark Board had become too popular, and grew from something that cost me $5 a month to $400 a month because of all the traffic.
I know some people look at these internet sites as something bad because they cannot be controlled. But as long as you have responsible people running them who know what is OK to post and what isn't, then I think they are a tremendous resource.
I would like to thank Jerry personally for this interview and all the hard work he puts in daily making Fresno State Football better.
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