If you really want the inside scoop on Fresno State, you'll have to ask a Fresno fan - preferably a Fresno fan not wearing a David Carr jersey.
The gang at Bulldog Bounce, Fresno's preeminent Blogspot blog, did the honors. I will be returning the favor later today or tomorrow. Visit the Bounce for tons of good Fresno info, as well as some solid previews of Friday's game.
Check out the BB interview after the jump, featuring a statement I'm sure Bronco fans will love (can you find it?).
What is the single weakest position on your team?
Secondary. The starting unit is talented, and safeties are deep, but corner depth is a concern. A.J. Jefferson is probably more talented than any corner in the WAC (besides maybe Kyle Wilson), but he hasn't lived up to the potential yet. This being his senior year, he'll make the NFL on kick return talent alone, but excelling on defense can set him apart and boost him into the Richard Marshall, Marcus McCauley realm for talented 'Dogs corners.
Who is the most important player on your offense?
QB Ryan Colburn. We know what to expect from all the other skill position talent surrounding Colburn, but what was lacking the past three years was a QB who could step up and take over a game and be a game-changer. It's too early to say for sure whether Colburn is that, but signs from the Wisconsin game point to yes. And that has the Red Wave excited.
Which would you rather have: Ryan Colburn throw for 300 yards or Ryan Mathews run for 100? Why?
Ryan Mathews run for 100. If Mathews does that, it means the 'Dogs are finally having success on the ground against Boise State, which means Fresno State will probably be leading or close to it. Colburn doesn't have to throw for 300 yards for the 'Dogs to win, but the running game has to have an impact. That said, even if Mathews doesn't reach 100 yards, Miller, Harding, or Rouse might. The combination of those guys is what's important.
Do you miss Tom Brandstater?
No. No offense to Tommy B., he was a heck of a Bulldog with his toughness and effort, but just not one of the better QBs under Pat Hill. The offense was limited under him, and it's a shame a change wasn't made earlier -- if for no other reason than seeing what the guy behind him the past two years (Colburn) was capable of.
How do you see the Fresno offensive line doing against Boise State's defensive line?
A week ago, I would have said this is the biggest question mark. But the O-line has wowed with its pass blocking, despite that looking like a concern in fall camp. The run blocking has been very strong also, but the unit matches up better with big, bulky defenders like Wisconsin's. The quicker defensive linemen and linebackers are what can cause this group problems.
Is MLB Ben Jacobs as good as advertised?
A former 'Dog All-WAC defender once told us, when Jacobs was a freshman, that he'd develop into an All-American by his senior year. Because of his lack of speed relative to the nation's best linebackers, that might not happen, but Jacobs is as good as there is at the position in the WAC and has become more aggressive, leaner, and a tad quicker.
What has surprised you about the Fresno State defense this fall?
This is the third straight year there's been talk of bringing back the Bulldog Football mentality, which is hard-hitting, punch-mouth football. We saw signs it was back in fall camp, but we had to see it in games to believe it. If it's there on Friday, we'll be completely sold on the idea. It takes all 11 guys on the field selling out to that philosophy to carry it out, with Ben Jacobs, Chris Carter and Lorne Bell leading the way. Unfortunately for the 'Dogs, the team's hardest hitter (Bell) is out with an injury Friday.
What strategies might the Bulldogs employ to slow down the Boise State passing game?
Fresno State will be more concerned about executing properly what it always tries to do on defense than scheming particularly for Boise State. The passion and intensity has to be there, and guys have to stick to assignments rather than trying to make the big play on their own and getting out of position.
How do you feel about having Pat Hill on your sideline in a close game. Do you think Hill is better than Chris Petersen, worse, or about the same?
Xs and Os, Petersen is better. That's hard to argue right now. Personality-wise, vision-wise and marketing-wise, Hill's a master. He personifies the Fresno and Central Valley chip-on-the-shoulder attitude like no one else in college football can. That might not be a perfect fit for every program, but it definitely is for ours.
I've felt a pessimistic vibe coming from Fresno fans this year. Do Fresno fans believe that the Bulldogs can win on Friday? Are they resigned to losing?
Depends who you ask. There is a wide spectrum of opinions in the fan base -- some way off base and uneducated, some educated but still off base and some valid.
Since you're asking us, absolutely Fresno State can win on Friday.
I'd say Fresno State has had more talent every single year since these two teams have been in the WAC together, but Boise State has this almost mystic aura of continually pulling out Ws, albeit not always against respectable competition. I personally have gone into every one of these FSU-BSU games thinking the 'Dogs were going to win (save for 2006) and have been stunned every time. This is the first year where I can legitimately imagine a possible loss. I don't think a lot of Boise fans realize Fresno State still sees itself as the premier program, though there's no debating the success Boise has had head-to-head.
What's more motivation: revenge for last season's blowout loss at Boise or simply beating Boise?
Just winning for this year's sake. Last year was last year, and honestly one of the strangest games I've ever seen. It was 13-10 at the half -- who can explained what happened thereafter? You play to win the game.
Lightning round. I say a word, you say the first word that comes to mind.
Fresno vs. Boise
"Be the hammer not the nail" (don't steal that too boise)
Anywhere, anywhere, anytime.
Woodchuck (honestly, that's what came to mind).
Boise State fans.
For more Fresno insight and analysis, check out the Bulldog Bounce all this week.