The Bulldogs travel to play the Owls on Thursday on Fox Sports Net.
Oct. 3, 2000
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Fresno State at Rice
: Thursday, Oct. 5
: 4 p.m. PDT
: Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas
: Fox Sports Net (Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham, Eric Clemons)
: KMJ (AM 580) (Bill Woodward, Jon Anabo, Ron Shapley)
Fresno State returns to action, opening the WAC season, at Rice on Thursday. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net. Fresno State is the only WAC team that has yet to play a conference game. The Owls enter the game with a 1-4 record are 0-2 in the WAC.
Last Time Out
The Bulldogs continued their dominance at home by winning their 11th consecutive game in Bulldog Stadium in front of a record crowd of 42,285 on Sept. 23 in a 17-3 win over Cal. Fresno State's defense, led by Tim Skipper's 12 tackles, held the Bears to three points, the fewest allowed in a game since 1996. The Bulldog offense was sparked by Rodney Wright's two touchdown receptions. David Carr threw for a career-high 325 yards and two scores. Wright finished with 13 receptions for 174 yards, both career bests.
All-Time vs. Rice
The Bulldogs own a 1-0 lead in the series, which began last year. Fresno State defeated Rice 47-18 last season at Bulldog Stadium.
Last Time vs. Rice
(Fresno, Calif. - Nov. 6, 1999) The first-ever meeting between the schools was a WAC contest with championship implications. The Bulldogs were ready for the Owls' wishbone attack, which was held to 99 rushing yards, the lowest in Ken Hatfield's coaching career. The game was decided in the first quarter as the Bulldogs scored 20 points and held Rice to just one yard of total offense. The Dogs led 27-10 at halftime and outscored the Owls 20-8 in the second half for the 47-18 victory. Billy Volek completed 12-of-15 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Derrick Ward rushed for 148 yards on 19 carries, which included a 65-yard touchdown run. Fresno State held Rice to just 2.2 yards per rushing attempt while the Bulldogs averaged 8.2 yards per play of total offense. The game was played without a turnover.
Liking the Bye
The Bulldogs have experienced a measure of success after bye weeks since the 1996 season. With its 17-3 victory over California on Saturday, Fresno State has now won three consecutive games after bye weeks dating to Oct. 5, 1996, when FS defeated San Jose State 28-18. The Bulldogs also defeated Utah 27-13 on Oct. 2, 1997, one week after a bye. Coincidentally, the Bulldogs have not played on the road after receiving a bye since Sept. 21, 1996. Utah defeated Fresno State 45-17 in that game, the last time the Bulldogs lost after a bye week.
The Bulldogs have been playing in front of record-setting crowds this season. The Bulldogs opened the season at Ohio State, where the Buckeyes set what as then an Ohio Stadium's attendance record of 96,583, the most fans ever to watch a Fresno State game. On Sept. 23, the 'Dogs set a record of their own with a Bulldog Stadium record crowd of 42,285 vs. Cal. Fresno State played in front of 45,605 fans at the 94,000-seat Rose Bowl in their second game vs. UCLA. The season attendance total of 184,473 is the highest total for three consecutive Fresno State games in history.
Best in the West
Fresno State has been one of hottest teams in the West, having won 13 of its last 21 games. Of the Division I-A schools located in the Mountain, Pacific and Hawaiian time zones, only three schools have better records than the Bulldogs during that time.
Best in the West (last 21 games)
1. Air Force 14-7
4. Fresno State 13-8
Colorado State 13-8
WAC 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 one full year of experience rank.
Coach WAC Record Pct Overall Record Pct
June Jones, Hawai'I 5-4 (2) .555 5-4 (2) .555
Ken Hatfield, Rice 20-13 (5) .606 32-29 (22) .525
Dennis Franchione, TCU 10-6 (3) .600 31-33 (10) .484
Mike Cavan, SMU 12-11 (3) .522 12-11 (3) .522
Dave Baldwin, San Jose St. 9-14 (3) .391 9-14 (3) .391
In Case You Missed It
Fresno State had their first two interceptions of the season against Cal. Dante Marsh and Kendall Edwards each had interceptions against the Bears. It was Edwards' first career interception ... receiver Rodney Wright had career highs for receptions (13), receiving yards (174) and touchdowns (2) vs. Cal ... running back Derrick Ward, Fresno State's 1999 leading rusher, has missed the last two games with an injury. He is expected back for the Rice game ... Fresno State's sack total is 12, eight more than it had through the first three games of last season ... Devon Banks has 21 tackles in two games after replacing injured Anthony Limbrick as the starting free safety. Banks ranks ninth in the WAC in tackles with an average of 8.3 per game ... the Bulldogs have held their two Pac-10 opponents (UCLA and Cal) to 3.8 yards per play of total offense (152 plays, 575 yards) ... the Bulldogs have won 11 consecutive homes games with the last loss coming to Nevada 27-24 on Sept. 26, 1998 ... Tim Skipper passed A.J. Gass for second place on the Fresno State career tackles list with 329 in his career. Skipper had 12 tackles, two for losses, against Cal ... Rodney Wright and Charles Smith ranked in the NCAA's top 32 in receiving yards. Middle Tennessee State is the only other team with two players ranked in the NCAA's top 50 in receiving yards ... Wright's 13 receptions vs. Cal were the third-most in a game in Fresno State history. His 174 yards ranked 12th best. He owns six of the top 50 receiving yardages games in school history. He is No. 2 in the NCAA in receptions per game with 8.33 ... Orlando Huff leads the WAC in tackles, averaging 10.3 per games, and has five sacks, second-most in the league ... Fresno State has the No.-5 rated strength of schedule, according to the Sagarin Ratings.
David Carr and Rodney Wright, both Bakersfield, Calif. natives, had big nights in Fresno State's victory over California. Carr had his best day as a Bulldog, going 24-of-41 for 325 yards and two touchdowns. His day was tied for the 33rd most productive day ever in terms of yardage for a FS quarterback. The 325 yards was also the most a Fresno State quarterback has thrown for since Sept. 19, 1998, when Billy Volek thew for 349 at Texas Tech. Of Carr's 325 yards, 174 came from Rodney Wright, who had a career night. He set career-highs for receptions (13) and yards (174) and tied his career-high for touchdown receptions (2). His yardage total was the 12th best amount in Fresno State history while the 13 catches were tied for fifth best. The last Bulldog to eclipse the 13-catch plateau was Ron Jenkins, who caught a program record 16 against Pacific on Oct. 24, 1987. It is also the most receiving yards in a single game since Brian Roberson racked up 204 against San Diego State on Nov. 23, 1996.
Counting on Carr
In just his second career start, David Carr showed signs of brilliance vs. No. 16 UCLA. While spending most of the day avoiding the rush, Carr was more comfortable in the pocket and did not force throws like he did in the season opener vs. Ohio State, in which threw four interceptions. Against the Bruins, Carr completed 20-of-33 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception. His best performance was his last outing in which he threw for a career-high 325 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-41 passing. Carr, who has played in just 14 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 ever. 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.
CARR BY THE NUMBERS
G-GS Att Comp Int Yds Pct TD LG
1997 4-0 11 5 1 53 .455 0 19
1998 7-0 41 22 1 228 .537 1 26
1999 3-3 118 68 5 812 .576 5 50
Totals 14-3 170 95 7 1,093 .559 6 50
Little Big Man Fresno State record 17 tackles for a loss in 1998
First-team All-WAC in 1998
Second-team All-WAC in 1999
Third on Fresno State's career tackle list with 306 tackles
WAC's Most Underrated Player by The Sporting News
No. 10 on Fresno State list for most tackles in a single season with 117 in 1998
Ninth in the WAC in tackles in 1999, 8.1 per game
Career-high 17 tackles vs. Baylor in 1997
Has 12 games of double-digit tackles in his career
WAC defensive player of the week (9/25/00) vs. California with 12 tackles, two for losses.
Senior middle linebacker Tim Skipper 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 34 of 37 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. With his 12 tackle performance against Cal, moved into second place on the Fresno State career tackle chart. He was a consensus preseason All-WAC selection and called the WAC's Most Underrated Player by The Sporting News. Skipper is a nominee for both the Butkus Award and the Nagurski Award. Information on Skipper can be found on www.gobulldogs.com.
Fresno State Career Tackle Leaders
1. Omar Stoutmire (1993-96) 458
2. Tim Skipper (1997-) 329
3. A.J. Gass (1993-97) 325
Ya Gotta Love This Guy
Senior linebacker Tim Skipper was featured in the Oct. 2 edition of Sports Illustrated's college football section feature called "Ya Gotta Love This Guy."
Senior outside linebacker Orlando Huff has been simply dominating through the first three games. Huff ranks fifth in the nation with five quarterback sacks. Against Ohio State in the season opener, Huff was all over the field, finishing with a game-high 12 tackles, including two for a loss and a fumble recovery, which he returned 46 yards deep into OSU territory. A Butkus Award candidate, Huff backed that performance up with an equally impressive 10-tackle, two-sack performance which saw him manhandle Bruins offensive lineman on several occasions. Through three games this season, the 1999 first-team All-WAC player has 31 tackles, five sacks, six tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and two pass deflections. He leads the WAC in tackles with an average of 10.3, is second in sacks and sixth in tackles for losses.
No Holding Harper
Junior defensive tackle Alan Harper was a one-man wrecking crew during his sophomore season, earning first-team All-WAC honors, making him the youngest player selected. Harper, who as the potential to become the best defensive lineman 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. Harper has three tackles for losses in his first three games.
Senior right tackle Kevin Jordan should be one of the WAC's best this season. Jordan, who started 12 games at right tackle last season, started the season at left tackle to protect David Carr's blind side, but moved back to right tackle before the Cal game to match-up against All-American Andre Carter. 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 and none this season. He was oustanding through the first three quarters of the Cal game before leaving with cramps. Jordan held Carter to just two tackles.
Despite their diminutive stature, the duo of Charles Smith and Rodney Wright could be the most explosive receiving combo in the nation. They each ranked in the NCAA's top 32 for receiving yards. Wright is coming of his finest game as a Bulldog with career-bests of 13 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns vs. Cal. Smith is leading the WAC in averages yards per reception, 21.8, the only player averaging from the 20 yards per catch. They are also Fresno State's top two return specialists and rank in Fresno State's career top 10 list for receptions and yards.
Rec Yards Avg TD Rec Yards Avg TD
Charles Smith 105 1,429 13.6 12 11 240 21.8 2
Rodney Wright 93 1,270 13.7 9 25 257 10.3 2
Totals 198 2,699 13.6 21 36 497 14.2 4
Fresno State Career Receptions
Rec Yards Avg TD
4. Henry Ellard (1979-82) 138 2,947 21.4 25
5. Jaime Kimbrough (1995-98) 116 1,092 9.4 6
6. Charles Smith (1998-) 109 1,512 13.9 12
7. Rodney Wright (1998-) 106 1,444 13.6 11
Fresno State Career Receiving Yards
Rec Yards Avg TD
5. Malcolm Seabron (1990-93) 90 1,874 20.8 18
6. Charles Smith (1998-) 109 1,512 13.9 12
7. Rodney Wright (1998-) 106 1,444 13.6 11
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 selected a freshman All-American. In February, Ward was dismissed from the team by head coach Pat Hill. Ward rejoined the team following spring ball and has been 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. He had three receptions for 49 yards including a 27-yarder on a screen pass vs. Ohio State. It was the first reception of his career. He did not have a carry against UCLA and did not play against Cal due to a knee injury. He is expected to return against Rice.
Blackshirts & Bad 'Dogs
Fresno State has a unique way of honoring strong defensive efforts during games. Every week after defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle reviews game film, he makes note of the Bulldogs players who thoroughly dominated their position during the game. These players then receive plain black shirts to wear during practice the following week. Players not receiving blackshirts wear their normal practice uniform. On rare occasions, the coaching staff will give a "Bad 'Dog" award, going to any player who gave an extraordinary effort. Only four "Bad 'Dog" awards have been given in four years and only one this season.
Game Blackshirt Players
at Ohio State DE Jason Stewart, DT Alan Harper, DE Jake Probst
at UCLA DE Jason Stewart, DT Alan Harper, LB Tim Skipper, LB Orlando Huff,
SS Vernon Fox
vs. Cal LB Tim Skipper*, CB Dante Marsh, CB Marcellus Armstrong, SS Bryce McGill,
SS Vernon Fox, DE Jason Stewart, DT Alan Harper, LB Orlando Huff
* Indicates Bad Dog Award
All-WAC Back RT -- Kevin Jordan (15)
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.
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 have started games at various times in their careers and the top six linemen have a combined 63 starts in their careers. 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. The 'Dogs have allowed five sacks through three games this season and 18 over the last 16 games, one every 28.4 pass attempts (18-512).
Starting Offensive Line (No. of career starts)
RG -- Russell Harding (5)
C -- Rodney Michael (12)
LG - Mike Stovall (18)
LT - Ahmad Bhatti (10), Joe Schey (4)
Young Pups Redshirt freshman Marc Dailey has seven tackles, one tackle for a loss and one sack.
Here's a look at some of the first-year players who have made an impact this season.
Transfer Asen Asparuhov kicked a 25-yard field goal vs. Ohio State and is 3-3 in PATs.
Sophomore Jason Simpson, a transfer, averages 36.1 yards per punt.
Freshmen Fitu Tu'ua and Antonio Sanchez have each played on the offensive line.
Redshirt freshman tight end Jeremy Johnson has seven receptions for 72 yards.
Redshirt freshman tight end Alec Greco has a touchdown reception.
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. Transfer Asen Asparuhov won the place kicking duties despite never kicking in a real game in his life. Brett Visintainer handles the kickoff responsibilities.
'Dog Bones (Team) FS is 15-3 under Pat Hill at home, including 11 consecutive wins and 11 victories of the last 12 games.
FS is 11-1 in its last 12 WAC home games.
The 'Dogs allowed a school record-low 13 quarterback sacks in 1999.
FS outgained its opponents in punt return yardage 323-71 in 1999.
FS had 19 more sacks than its opponents over the last two seasons season 35-16.
FS has seven more sacks than its opponents this season (12-5).
The 'Dogs held NCAA rushing leader LaDainian Tomlinson of TCU to a season-low 49 yards on 20 carries in 1999.
FS has thrown 38 touchdowns and only eight interceptions over the last two years.
FS had three interception returns for touchdowns last season, the same number of total interceptions by the opponents.
The Bulldogs have not been shutout in the last 123 home games dating back to Oct. 25, 1980, vs. Utah State (14-0). Fresno State has scored in 147 of the last 148 home games.
FS was 6-1 last season when rushing for more than 140 yards in a game. The lone loss was at Hawai'i.
FS was 6-0 last season when throwing more touchdowns than its opponents.
FS is 15-3 under Pat Hill when the 'Dogs throw more touchdown passes than their opponents.
FS is 15-5 under Pat Hill when the 'Dogs have less turnovers than their opponents.
FS has outscored its opponents 586-378 over the last 20 games (29.3 - 18.9 per game average).
The 'Dogs have led the WAC in scoring in three of the last eight years, including a nation's best 40.5 average in 1992.
FS has produced two quarterbacks (Trent Dilfer and Billy Volek) who set NCAA records in the last seven years. Both are in the NFL, Dilfer with the Baltimore Ravens and Volek with the Tennessee Titans.
FS has produced a first-team All-WAC punter (Jeff Roberts, 1998) and kicker (Jeff Hanna, 1999) since the 1998 season.
'Dog Bones (Individual) Cornerback Marcellus Armstrong was a running back in 1999 who averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns.
Safety Devon Banks had a career-high 14 tackles in his first career start vs. UCLA.
Right tackle Ahmad Bhatti held UCLA All-American Kenyon Coleman to just three tackles.
Safety Terence Brown blocked four kicks (three field goals and one PAT) in 1999.
Brown was named MVP of the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl with two blocked kicks.
Quarterback David Carr ranks seventh in the NCAA in pass completions (26.0/game) and 19th in total offense (259.3/game), which is tops in the WAC.
Carr threw for a career-high 325 yards, completing 24 of 41 passes vs. Ohio State.
Cornerback and special teams captain Lawrence Deck had a career-high nine tackles vs. Utah in the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl. He missed two of the first three games with a concussion.
Deck in an honor student who will graduate in December with a degree in kinesiology.
Strong safety Vernon Fox has at least one tackle in 23 consecutive games.
Fox led the team with 103 tackles in 1999.
Running back Paris Gaines suffered a torn ligament in his right knee in the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl. He needs 20 yards for 1,000 in his career.
Defensive tackle Alan Harper has at least one tackle in 24 straight games, the longest streak on the Fresno State defense.
Harper ranked second in the WAC in 1999 in tackles for a loss with 15 for 47 yards. He has three for minus five yards the first two games.
Linebacker Orlando Huff had double-figures tackles in each of the first two games vs. Ohio State and UCLA. He leads the 'Dogs in tackles for losses (6-36) and sacks (5-35).
Huff, a Butkus Award nominee, ranks second in the WAC and fifth in the NCAA in quarterback sacks with five.
Right tackle Kevin Jordan allowed just one quarterback sack in over 340 pass plays in 1999 at right tackle. He has not allowed a sack through the first three games this season.
Free safety Anthony Limbrick was rated as the ninth-best safety in the nation by Lindy's.
Limbrick broke his right thumb vs. Ohio State and is out indefinitely.
Nose tackle Thabiti Lockhart was second-team preseason All-WAC by The Sporting News.
Cornerback Dante Marsh tied for the team lead with three interceptions in 1999 and has five in his career.
Center Rodney Michael was named second team preseason All-WAC by Lindy's.
After the injury to Akka-Ar Moses, FS fullbacks only had three carries in the last eight games. Moses had 30 carries before the season-ending injury. He likely will miss this season.
Cornerback Tierre Sams ran a 10.46 100 meters in high school, which was the fastest time by a high school athlete that year for a brief time.
Linebacker Tim Skipper was selected WAC Defensive Player of the Week (9-25-00) after getting 12 tackles and two tackles for losses in a 17-3 win over the Bears.
Receiver Charles Smith has caught at least one pass in 26 consecutive games.
Smith has six touchdown receptions in the last seven games.
Defensive end Jason Stewart is Fresno State's third leading tackler with 22, including three for losses and one sack.
Junior guard Mike Stovall has started 19 games on the offensive line, more than any current player.
Running Back Derrick Ward averages 35.7 yards per touchdown run in his career.
Receiver Rodney Wright has caught at least four passes in each of the last 12 games.
Wright ranks second in the NCAA in receptions (8.33) and ninth in all-purpose yardage (170.7).