Football Team Travels to No. 16 UCLA
Sept. 4, 2000
====================================================Fresno State at UCLA
Date: Saturday, Sept. 9
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Local TV: KMPH Fox 26
Regional TV: Fox Sports West 2
Radio: KMJ (AM 580)
Satellite Coordinates: Telestar 7, Transponder K11
The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Bulldogs, who must face a nationally ranked opponent for the second consecutive week when they travel to the Rose Bowl to play No. 16 UCLA. The Bruins are coming off an impressive 35-24 win over No. 3 Alabama on Saturday, vaulting them into the Top 25.
Fresno State made its first appearance in a Big Ten stadium, losing to No. 15 Ohio State 43-10. The Buckeyes used four scores from their defense, two interception returns for touchdowns and two fumble recovery touchdowns, that led to the win. Fresno State had six turnovers in the game, including four interceptions, one more than all of 1999.
All-Time vs. UCLA
The Bruins have never lost to the Bulldogs in five games. This is the third meeting in the last six years but the first time the two schools have met in consecutive seasons. The closest game in the series was in 1927, a 7-0 Bruin victory. UCLA won last season 35-21 at the Rose Bowl.
Last Time vs. UCLA
(Pasadena, Calif. - Sept. 18, 1999) Although they held a 21-20 lead late in the third quarter, the Bulldogs could not hold off the Bruins, who scored 15 points in the final 16:51 of the game to clinch the victory 35-21 in the third game of the 1999 season. Trailing 20-7 at halftime, the Bulldogs scored 14 unanswered points on a Billy Volek to Akka-Ar Moses 13-yard touchdown pass and a Volek to Vince Branstetter 23-yard strike to take the lead. Drew Bennett and Cory Paus combined to complete 22-of-36 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns for the Bruins. Volek was 19-of-34 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Derrick Ward scored his first career touchdown and rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries.
All-Time vs. Pac-10
The Bulldogs have played every team from the Pac-10 but have failed to register wins over four programs, including UCLA. The 'Dogs are 13-21-0 vs. Pac-10 schools, 2-8 vs. California Pac-10 schools. Fresno State was 0-2 vs. Pac-10 teams last year, losing at Oregon State 46-23 and UCLA in 35-21 in consecutive games. Fresno State will play another Pac-10 opponent in its next game, the home opener on Sept. 23 vs. Cal. The Bulldogs are winless in their last four games vs. Pac-10 opponents with the last win coming five years to the day of Saturday's UCLA game, Sept. 9, 1995, at California 25-24. FS has winning records against Arizona (2-0), California (1-0), Oregon State (6-4) and USC (1-0).
First Time Against Back-to-Back Ranked Opponents
Since head coach Pat Hill took over prior to the 1997 season, the Bulldogs have faced one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the West. However, this week will mark the first time in Fresno State history the Bulldogs will take on ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks. Last week, FS opened its 2000 season at then-No. 15 Ohio State. This week, Fresno State travels to No. 16 UCLA.
Trying to Break the Streak
UCLA holds a 5-0 all-time record against Fresno State. It marks the most games the Bulldogs have played against an opponent without having picked up a victory. The five consecutive wins by the Bruins is also the longest losing streak Fresno State has against any opponent. Next in line is San Diego State, which has beaten FS in four consecutive games.
More on UCLA vs. Fresno State
Saturday's contest will be the first time since the first meeting between UCLA and Fresno State that the Bruins will enter a game with the Bulldogs following a victory. Last year, the Bruins fell to Ohio State the week prior to playing FS. In 1995, UCLA lost to Washington the week before, in 1987, it fell to Nebraska, and in 1929, the Bruins were defeated by USC. The only victory UCLA has posted the week before playing Fresno State came in 1927, when the Bruins beat Santa Barbara State 25-0, one week prior to taking on the Bulldogs for the first time in history.
vs. California Schools
The Bulldogs have a record of 216-167-14 all-time vs. teams from the state of California.
Best in the West
Fresno State has been one of hottest teams in the West, having won 12 of its last 19 games. Of the Division I-A schools located in the Mountain, Pacific and Hawaiian time zones, only Air Force, Arizona and Utah have better records than the Bulldogs during that time.
Best in the West (last 18 games) 1. Air Force 13-6 Arizona 13-6 Utah 13-6 4. Fresno State 12-7 BYU 12-7 Colorado State 12-7 Oregon 11-7WAC Coaching Leader
Pat Hill is the active WAC coaching leader in winning percentage with a record of 15-8 (.652). Here's how the other WAC coaches with more than one year of experience rank.
Coach WAC Record Pct Overall Record Pct Ken Hatfield, Rice 20-11 (4) .625 32-27 (21) .542 Dennis Franchione, TCU 9-6 (2) .600 30-33 (8) .476 Mike Cavan, SMU 12-10 (3) .545 12-10 (3) .545 Dave Baldwin, San Jose St. 8-14 (3) .364 8-14 (3) .364In Case You Missed It
The 'Dogs suffered their worst season-opening loss since 1927, a 33-0 loss to Stanford ... Fresno State had four interceptions vs. Ohio State, one more than it threw all of the 1999 season ... sophomore Marque Davis caught his first career touchdown, a 9-yarder from Jeff Grady ... Grady is 6-for-10 for 70 yards and two touchdowns in his career after completing 5-of-7 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown vs. Ohio State ... Asen Asparuhov kicked the first field goal of his life, a 25-yarder vs. Ohio State. The first-year player from Bulgaria had never attempted a field goal or PAT in an organized football game before ... James Tillman had a career-high 33 rushing yards vs. Ohio State ... Eleven different Bulldogs caught passes in the season opener, including two freshmen, Deandre Gilbert and Jeremy Johnson, who had career firsts ... FS traveled 2,460 miles to Columbus, Ohio, the longest trip ever for an opener.
Ohio Stadium's record attendance total of 96,583 was the most fans ever to watch a Fresno State game. For the second consecutive week, the Bulldogs will in a stadium with a capacity over 90,000 when they play the UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl, capacity 94,000. Last season, Bulldogs and Bruins drew 42,649 at the Rose Bowl. Before Saturday, the largest crowd ever to watch a Fresno State football game was 79,026 at Auburn on Sept. 7, 1996, a 62-0 Tiger victory. The largest crowd ever to watch a FS victory was 65,816 on Oct. 23, 1993, at BYU, a 48-45 victory.
'Dogs Picked Second in WAC Preseason Poll
Despite returning the most first-team All-WAC players of any team in the league, Fresno State was the second choice of media members in the 2000 Preseason Poll. The Bulldogs received 178 total points and six first place votes. TCU, 20th in the AP preseason poll, with 16 first place votes, received 206 points, as the predicted league champion.
2000 WAC Football Media Poll (first-place votes in parenthesis) No Name Votes 1. TCU (16) 206 2. Fresno State (6) 178 3. Hawai'i (2) 170 4. Rice 114 5. SMU 108 6. UTEP 90 7. Nevada 84 8. Tulsa 68 9. San Jose State 62All-WAC Back
The Bulldogs welcome back four first-team All-WAC players from 1999 and one who was a first-team All-WAC selection in 1998 (Tim Skipper). In addition, the Bulldogs return two second-team All-WAC players and six others who were honorable mention All-WAC in 1999.
1998 First-Team All-WAC: Tim Skipper, Linebacker
1999 First-Team All-WAC: Alan Harper, Defensive Tackle, Orlando Huff, Linebacker, Anthony Limbrick, Safety, Rodney Wright, Receiver
1999 Second-Team All-WAC: Tim Skipper, Linebacker, Charles Smith, Return Specialist
1999 Honorable Mention All-WAC: Nick Burley, Defensive End, Giachino Chiaramonte, Linebacker, Vernon Fox, Safety, Paris Gaines, Running Back, Charles Smith, Wide Receiver, Derrick Ward, Running Back.
Little Big Man
Senior middle linebacker Tim Skipper (Kenner, La.) continues to be Fresno State's leader on defense and will be the defensive captain for the second consecutive year. Skipper is an excellent student who has been a WAC scholar-athlete. Despite being the smallest middle linebacker in the country (5-7, 215 lbs.), Skipper has played very large throughout his career. Skipper, who has has started 31-of-34 games in his career, was a first-team All-WAC selection as a sophomore and despite missing two-and-a-half games and four starts with a knee injury, was selected second-team All-WAC last season. He had started 27 consecutive games before the injury. He finished second on the team in tackles last season with 86, missing his third consecutive 100-tackle season. He ranks third on the Fresno State career tackle chart with 306. He was a consensus preseason All-WAC selection and called the WAC's Most Underrated Player by The Sporting News. Information on Skipper can be found on www.gobulldogs.com.
Fresno State Career Tackle Leaders 1. Omar Stoutmire (1993-96) 458 2. A.J. Gass (1993-97) 325 3. Tim Skipper (1997-) 306Family Ties
Senior middle linebacker Tim Skipper will be facing a familiar face on the UCLA sidelines, his brother Kelly is the Bruins running backs coach. Kelly Skipper was an outstanding running back for Fresno State, ranking seventh in career rushing yards with 2,237 and 26 touchdowns from 1985-88. He was a first-team All-Big West and honorable mention All-America selection in 1988. Kelly was an assistant coach at Fresno State under Jim Sweeney and Pat Hill from 1991-97 before joining the UCLA staff. Their father, Jim, is formerly the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator of the New York Giants. He was recently named head coach of the San Jose franchise of the XFL.
No Holding Harper
Junior defensive tackle Alan Harper (Fontana, Calif.) was a one man wrecking crew during his sophomore season, earning first-team All-WAC honors, making him the youngest player selected. Harper, who has the potential to become the best defensive linemen in school history, was Fresno State's nominee for WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors after recording 15 tackles for losses, second-most in school history and second-most in the WAC. He is a consensus preseason All-WAC selection and was rated the 20th best defensive tackle in the nation by The Sporting News, one of seven underclassmen honored.
Senior left tackle Kevin Jordan (Los Angeles, Calif.) should be one of the WAC's best this season. Jordan, who started 12 games at right tackle last season, switched to left tackle to protect David Carr's blind side this season. Jordan, a defensive tackle in his first two years in the program, is a good athlete who ran a 4.7 40-yard dash as a defensive lineman. He currently runs just under 5.0 seconds. Jordan is very strong, bench pressing 405 pounds. He allowed just one quarterback sack last season in over 340 pass plays.
Despite their diminutive stature, the duo of Charles Smith and Rodney Wright could be the most explosive receiving combo in the nation this season. Wright picked up where he left off last season with eight receptions for 49 yards vs. Ohio State. Smith has two catches against the Buckeyes, giving him 100 for his career. He averaged 29.5 yards per catch in the opener. They are also Fresno State's top two return specialists and rank in Fresno State's career top 10 list for receptions and yards.
Dynamic Duo Rec Yards Avg TD Charles Smith 100 1,333 13.3 10 Rodney Wright 89 1,236 13.9 9 -------------------------------------------------- Totals 189 2,569 13.6 19Counting on Carr
While David Carr's first career start is one he would like to forget, the talented redshirt junior will be a major factor for the Bulldog offense in 2000. Carr, who has played in just 12 games in his three-year career, redshirted last season and worked with the Bulldog scout teams, earning the scout team MVP award given by the coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said the best quarterback the Bulldog defense faced last season was Carr. In addition, Carr spend the entire season in the coaching booth on a headset with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig learning more about the offense. Before this season, Carr had completed 27-52 passes for 281 yards and one touchdown and two interceptions in his career. Carr could be the best all-around athlete to play quarterback for the 'Dogs in a few years. He bench presses 390 pounds, power cleans 300 pounds and squats 500 pounds. At 6-3, 225 pounds, he runs a 4.67 40-yard dash.
After a spectacular freshman season, running back Derrick Ward (Moreno Valley, Calif.) found himself off the team. Ward rushed for a freshman record 875 yards, averaged 6.0 yards per carry, and a team-best seven touchdowns. He was also selected a freshman All-American. In February, Ward was dismissed from the team by head coach Pat Hill. He rejoined the team following spring ball and was impressive in fall camp. Last season, he showed big-play capability, scoring on runs of 86 yards vs. Nevada, the fourth-longest in Fresno State history, and 75 yards vs. Colorado State, the seventh-longest. He also blocked two punts that were returned for touchdowns. Ward set a freshman single game rushing record with 176 yards vs. Nevada. Over the last five games, Ward has rushed for more than 50 yards in a game once, with 51 yards in the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl. He opened the season with 33 yards on 11 carries against Ohio State. He did have three receptions for 49 yards including a 27-yarder on a screen pass. It was the first reception of his career.
The Bulldogs had a hotly contested battle for the starting kicking job vacated by the graduation of All-WAC performer Jeff Hanna, a three-year starter and one of the most accurate in school history. Freshman Brett Visintainer and junior college transfer Asen Asparuhov kicked well in fall camp but Asparuhov won the place kicking duties despite never kicking in a real game in his life. He made a 25-yard field goal and a PAT in his first game of his career. He attempted a 44-yard field goal that was blocked. Visintainer handles the kickoff responsibilities. The punting duties are handled by transfer Jason Simpson, the only punter on the team.
An area that was racked with injuries last season was the offensive line. Despite the injuries, the 'Dogs patched together a unit that allowed a school record low 13 quarterback sacks. Each of the five starters this year have started games at various times in their careers and the top six linemen have a combined 53 starts in their careers. Of the starters, Russ Harding missed the entire 1999 season with an injury. Ahmad Bhatti and Joe Schey each started the first three games of last season before injuries sidelined them.
Projected Starting Offensive Line (# of career starts)
Several first-year players are contributed in the season opener. Here's a look at some of the first-year players who made an impact their first Division I game.
Isn't That Special?
The Bulldogs dominated their opponents in special teams in 1999. Fresno State had a season total of 10 blocked kicks, four punts, five field goals and one PAT. Of the Bulldogs blocked punts, two were returned for touchdowns.
1999 Fresno State Special Teams Highlights