First, the good news…
1. The defense awakened from its slumber.
Several defensive players turned in stellar performances. Travis Brown (6 tackles!), Chris Carter, Shawn Plummer, Cornell Banks and, of course, Ben Jacobs (more on him, later). The best word to describe the Bulldogs' defensive effort...? Aggressive! Good word.
It is something the Fresno State defense has been lacking. Aggression, that is. Sure, there have been individual players, like Carter and Lorne Bell, who have played aggressive football, but the defense, as a whole, never got the message. Saturday, the defense woke up. Maybe they were angry and embarrassed and just P.O.'ed by the debacle in Reno, last week. Whatever, they took it out on Louisiana Tech.
2. Ben Jacobs steps up.
The Bulldog middle linebacker brought his A-game to the contest and emerged as the best defensive player in the game, for either side. Jay Dudley, of La. Tech, had a great game, but he didn't have the impact Jacobs delivered.
Jacobs led all Bulldog tacklers, forced three fumbles (tying an NCAA record), scooped up two of them and ran one into the end zone from 21 yards out. Jacobs played with a great motor, looking forward to his efforts against Illinois.
3. Kevin Goessling is a machine!
Is this the best kicker Fresno State has ever produced?
He's getting there, if he hasn't already arrived.
Kudo's to Pat Hill for finding him, signing him and supporting him through thick and thin. Goessling has made an amazing 14 field goals in a row (a Fresno State record), including the pressure packed, 35-yard game-winner he nailed with just a few ticks left on the clock.
4. Robbie Rouse
This young man got a serious dose of playing running back at the D1 level on Saturday afternoon. He was up against a decent defense that gave LSU fits last week and was given the ball 21 times. When the smoke cleared, he had 75 yards and a measure of respect from both teams.
5. Ryan Colburn's good side...
...was displayed by his desire to win, his effective running, and his successful drive in the last two minutes. He made some clutch throws, especially that strike to Chastin West at the end of the game to set up the winning field goal. Also noteworthy was the complete absence of interceptions thrown. By the way, did you know Colburn ran for 55 yards in the game? He was tackled for a loss a couple times, so his net was like 44 yards, but that was a tough, hardnosed effort, kudos.
6. His struggles...
...were displayed by his ugly, badly aimed throws. Let me say it again, ugly. True, he did have multiple horrific drops from receivers who should have caught the football (speaking of ugly, how about that drop by Jamel Hamler? That pass had "touchdown" written all over it...). Nonetheless, Colburn did throw his share of ugliness into the mix.
Completing 17 passes of a career high 42 attempts is just ugly. What is that, 40.4%? Way, way too many passes that were just... inaccurate.
7. Winning without the horses...
...was an impressive thing to see. The two best players on the team did not play – Ryan Mathews and Andrew Jackson. In addition, it was pretty clear, Devon Wylie was not 100%. Ebahn Feathers was ominously absent (what is that all about? I hear he had to meet with Pat Hill Sunday morning. Ouch!). Also, the slight knee injury to A.J. Jefferson kept him out of the game. That said, it must be admitted that there is some depth on this team. It is not "deep depth", but it is deeper than most years.
8. Illinois is coming up.
The Illini have to travel to play a salty Cincinnati team this Friday while the Bulldogs get to cool their heels in a bye week. Sweet! The game will be played Dec. 5 in Champaign and hopeRyan Mathews, Andrew Jackson, et al, will be healthy and ready to go.
9. Pat Hill's contract?
Still up in the air? No offers of extension have been reported. 2010 is his last contracted year. The next two games (including what looks like a trip to the Hawaii Bowl) may prove HUGE in the eventual outcome of this situation. Also huge could be the outcome of the next point...
10. I swear I did not dream this.
But I did see an interview with Ryan Mathews after the game. He was asked, directly (for the jillionth time) if he was going to be a Bulldog next year. His answer included some predictable muttered comments about "seeing how the rest of the season goes", etc., but then he said "...but, I'll probably be back, next year." I swear I heard those words!
I know, I know, he is a young man with a huge opportunity. But that sounds like Mathews is leaning toward a return...! Now that is something for the Bulldog Nation - and Pat Hill - to look forward to.
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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