Head coach Pat Hill will have to put up a quite impressive record during the 2009 season in order to insure he's not on the hot seat in 2010. During Hill’s tenure the Bulldog’s have upset many of the nations biggest programs, however at the end of last season they ended up in the middle of the Western Athletic Conference standings. Hill, as of late, seems to lack the consistency needed to turn Fresno St. into a premier program.
The Bulldogs entered the 2008 season with a high level of talent and even higher expectations from their loyal fan base. The team had all their weapons come back and yet finished with a mediocre 7-6 record, including a bowl loss to Colorado State. The Bulldog fans are now beginning to see through the mask put up by Hill’s upset wins and are beginning to question his coaching ability.
The Bulldogs will be faced with several speed bumps along the road prior to the kickoff of the 2009 season. First off, Hill needs to find someone to take over the quarterback role that was filled by Tom Brandstater for the past three years. This means that Hill will call upon an inexperienced QB to run the offense, which usually leads to a sloppy and inefficient offense. The upside for the offense is that they have their leading rusher, Anthony Harding, returning for his senior year. Last year Harding ran for an impressive 822 yards on only 147 carries. My guess is that Harding will get a lot more touches this year and if he runs as he did during 2008, could have a breakout season.
The defense looks to be much improved from the 2008 season. Last seasons young defensive unit has greatly matured and returns many promising starters in 2009. The biggest strength for the Bulldog’s D looks to be their linebacking core that showcases junior Ben Jacobs, who led the team in 2008 with 113 tackles. Hill has also installed a wonderful secondary that should be able to hold their own, even in the pass heavy WAC. Mosses Harris will anchor the secondary and if he puts up similar numbers to his 2008 season (75 tackles 2 forced fumbles) the Fresno defense should be one of the best in the WAC.
The question still remains, can Pat Hill, on the shoulders of a rookie QB, pull off a few of his infamous upset wins and put together a season good enough to hoist the WAC trophy?