Fresno State takes on UTEP Sat. at 2 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.
Oct. 18, 1999
FRESNO, Calif. -
The Bulldogs return home, where they haven't lost a game this season, to host the UTEP Miners in a WAC contest. The Bulldogs enter the week with a 4-3 overall record and a 1-1 WAC mark. The Miners, also 1-1 in league games, are 3-4 overall. Kickoff is Sat. at 2:07 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs enter the game having won eight of their last 12 games including seven consecutive home games, three coming this season. This will be the second consecutive season the Bulldogs have hosted the Miners. Last season, Fresno State beat UTEP 32-6 in front of 39,881 fans, the biggest crowd at Bulldog Stadium since the 1994 season.
The Bulldogs lost for the first time in the WAC this season, dropping a 24-14 at SMU on Thu., Oct. 14. Fresno State scored a season-low 14 points in a game that was filled with missed opportunities and mistakes. The Bulldogs turned the ball over three times and allowed SMU to run for 194 yards.
Head Coach Pat Hill
Pat Hill is in his third season at Fresno State but is no stranger to Bulldog football, having spent six seasons as an assistant coach (1984-89) under Jim Sweeney when the Bulldogs were among the nation's most successful teams. Fresno State posted a 53-16-1 overall record during those six seasons, won three league titles and three bowl games. Hill was Fresno State's offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Hill became a hot young assistant coach and left FSU to become offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Arizona (1991-92). After two seasons in Tucson, he left for the NFL where he spent five seasons (1992-96) as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise. In addition, Hill was the offensive coordinator for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL (1983), offensive coordinator/offensive line/recruiting coordinator at UNLV (1981-82), recruiting coordinator/offensive line coach at Utah (1977-80) and offensive line coach at L.A. Valley College (1974-76).
PAT HILL YEAR BY YEAR
Overall Pct WAC Pct Home Road
1997 6-6 .625 5-3 .625 4-2 2-4
1998 5-6 .454 5-3 .625 4-1 1-5
1999 4-3 .571 1-1 .500 3-0 1-3
TOTALS 15-15 .500 11-7 .636 11-3 4-12
'Dogs vs. Miners
Fresno State leads the alltime series between the two schools 6-1-1. The first meeting came in 1938, a game won by the Miners for their only win of the series. The Bulldogs have won the last two times the two have met, doing so by a combined score of 79-20. Fresno State is 5-1 all-time against UTEP in Fresno.
vs. the Lone Star State
This is the third time in the last four games Fresno State has played a team from Texas. After beating TCU 26-19 in overtime on Oct. 2, the Bulldogs lost to SMU 24-14 on Oct. 14. Fresno State's alltime record against teams from Texas currently stands at 10-11-1. After facing off against UTEP, the Bulldogs will still have one more Texas team to play this year - Rice on Nov. 6.
Fresno State and UTEP have one common opponent - SMU. The Miners beat the Mustangs 42-28 on Oct. 9 at El Paso, Texas. The Bulldogs were not as fortunate, losing to SMU 24-14 on Oct. 14 at Dallas.
In Case You Missed It
The Bulldogs threw for a season-high 299 yards in the loss at SMU the most since Sept. 19, 1998, at Texas Tech (349 yards). . .Fresno State was held to a season-low 14 points, the fewest it has scored since Nov. 7, 1998, vs. San Diego State in 10-0 loss. . .Billy Volek's consecutive passes without an interception streak was stopped at 111. . .Billy Volek and Rodney Wright connected on an 83-yard touchdown pass, longest of their careers. . .Fresno State has two of the WAC's top receivers in Rodney Wirght (4.7 rpg) and Charles Smith (4.3 rpg). . .Fresno State was held to 65 rushing yards, just the second time this year it has been held under 100 yards . . .The Bulldogs are leading the WAC in scoring with 30.1 points per game. . .Billy Volek matched his career-high for touchdown passes in a season with his 17th, the sixth best total in school history. He needs to averaged 2.8 touchdown passes over the next five games to catch Trent Dilfer, who threw 30 touchdowns in in 1993. . .Volek is ranked fifth in the NCAA this week in passing efficiency with a rating of 151.1.
"V" is for Valley
Fresno State prides itself on being the "Valley's team." This pride can be seen in the form of a large green V on the back of the Bulldog helmets as a symbol to the Central Valley.
Of the 101 student-athletes listed on the roster, 41 are freshman, 23 are sophomores, 20 are juniors and only 17 are seniors. Of the 44 players on the depth chart, exactly half are either freshmen or sophomores. The youth is evident in the skilled positions. Of the 14 offensive players who have all-purpose yards this season, only three of them are seniors - quarterback Billy Volek, tight end Vince Branstetter and fullback Jeromy Blackwell.
Isn't That Special?
The Bulldogs continue to dominate the opponents in special teams. Fresno State has a season total of seven blocked kicks, three punts, three field goals and one PAT. Fresno State had blocked a kick in three consecutive games before failing to get one last week against SMU. Of the Bulldogs three blocked punts, two have been returned for touchdowns. Here are a few other Fresno State special teams highlights this season:
o Fresno State has three blocked punts
o Derrick Ward has two blocked punts for touchdowns
o Opponents are averaging 30.8 net yards punting
o Opponents have just 39 total punt return yards for a 3.9 average
o Fresno State has downed 10 of its 36 punts inside the 20-yard line
Home Sweet Home
The Bulldogs enjoy playing at home not only because of the Red Wave support, but because they have won a lot of games by victory margins. This season, Fresno State's average margin of victory in Bulldog Stadium is 22 points per game, including victories of 28 points over Portland State and 31 points over Colorado State. Fresno State is averaging 34.7 points per game at home while allowing 12.7 points per game. Over the last 10 home victories, Fresno State has averaged winning by 22 points per game. Fresno State is averaging nearly 35 points per game in home games during that time.
Senior quarterback Billy Volek (Fresno, Calif.) received the WAC's offensive player-of-the-week honors for his four-touchdown performance against Portland State (Sept. 5). A three-year starter, Volek passed for 1,973 yards last year, finishing second in the WAC in passing efficiency with a rating of 131.7. Volek was the preseason selection for WAC Offensive Player of the Year. This season, Volek continues to impress, completing a career-best 65 percent of his passes while throwing 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions. For his career he has an impressive TD-Interception ratio of 44:12. Volek is leading the WAC and ranks fourth in the NCAA in pass efficiency with a 151.7 rating.
Volek's Career Passing Statistics
Year G-GS Att Comp Int Yds Pct TD LG
1997 12-12 318 178 6 1,853 .560 17 47
1998 11-11 261 151 3 1,973 .579 10 63
1999 7-7 203 134 3 1,474 .660 17 83
TOTALS 30-30 782 463 12 5,300 .592 44 83
Volek on the Charts
Quarterback Billy Volek has moved into fourth place in Fresno State history in career passing yards and total offense. In addition, he became just the fourth player in Bulldog history to throw more than 40 touchdowns and have 5,000 yards in his career. Here's where he stands in the FSU career record books:
Total Offense Plays Pass Rush Yards Needs to Pass
3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 1,016 7,631 154 7,785 2,617
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 854 5,300 -131 5,169
Passing Yards A-C-I Pct Yards Needs to Pass
3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 865-511-22 .591 7,631 2,331
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 782-463-12 .592 5,300
Touchdown Passes TDs Needs to Pass
3. Mark Barsotti (1988-91) 50 7
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 44
Touchdown Passes TDs Needs to Pass
3. Mark Barsotti (1988-91) 50 7
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 44
Billy Volek has just one interception in the last four games. In fact, he has just one in the the last 18 quarters. He had a streak of 111 passes without an interception that was snapped with his third interception of the season last week against SMU. He is on pace to break the school's single season record for completion percentage. He is currently completing .660 of his attempts. The Fresno State record is .644 by Mark Barsotti in 1991.
Senior cornerback Payton Williams (Moreno Valley, Calif.) is considered one the top players at his position in the nation. In addition to his work on the Bulldog special teams, Williams is ranked third in the WAC this week in punt returns with an average of 8.4 per return. He is one of the premier student-athletes on the Fresno State campus, earning GTE Academic All-District honors last season and should be an academic All-America candidate this year. A sociology major, Williams represented Fresno State at the NCAA Leadership Conference last spring. Through the first five games of his senior season, he has 23 total tackles, fourth-best on the team, and has four pass break-ups. He missed most of the TCU game and all of the CSU game with a strained hamstring. He returned to starting line-up against SMU but reinjured his hamstring late in the game. His status will be evaluated later this week.
Little Big Man
Junior middle linebacker Tim Skipper (Kenner, La.), a 1999 Preseason Street & Smith and Walter Camp All-American Honorable Mention, continues to be Fresno State's leader on defense. Despite being only 5-7, short by middle linebacker standards, Skipper continues to play very large. He is on pace for his second consecutive 100-tackle season. Skipper was a first-team All-WAC selection as a sophomore. He missed his first start in 27 consecutive games vs. Colorado State with a knee injury. He was held out of action last week but is expected to return this week.
The Bulldogs are WAC leaders in several categories: scoring offense (30.1), punt returns (10.2) and third down conversions (47-102, .461).
Freshman running back Derrick Ward (Moreno Valley, Calif.) has been a big part of Fresno State's success this season. Not only is he leading the team in rushing with 496 yards and a 7.6 per carry average, he leads the team with five touchdowns and has been a special teams demon with two blocked punts for touchdowns. Ward scored two touchdowns and rushed for 156 yards in the victory over Colorado State. His 75-yard touchdown run against Colorado State was the seventh-longest in school history. He now owns two of the top seven longest runs, including the third-longest, an 86-yarder against Nevada. Both of those runs have come in the last four games. Ward also has the top two rushing games by a freshman in school history, 176 yards vs. Nevada and 156 yards vs. Colorado State.
UTEP's Paul Smith is another of the nation's premier backs that Fresno State will faced this season. Smith enters the week ranked 18th in the NCAA in rushing yards. Smith, who averages 108.4 yards per game, is the fifth back ranked in the NCAA's Top 25 to test the Bulldog defense. Here are the others.
NCAA Rank Average vs. Fresno State
1. LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU 176.67 20-49, 0 TDs
4. Ken Simonton, Oregon State 150.83 31-178, 2 TDs
13. Kevin McDougall, Colorado State 116.60 13-99, 0 TDs
21. Chris Lemon, Nevada 104.17 23-101, 2 TDs
Orlando Huff (Upland, Calif.) had his best game of his career against Colorado State and earned the WAC Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance. Playing with a severly bruised shoulder, Huff recorded 14 tackles, one quarterback sack, one tackle for a loss and halted a two point conversion. He is leading the team in tackles with 56, three ahead of Vernon Fox. Jeff Hanna (Alta Loma, Calif.) has connected on six consecutive field goal attempts, including going three-for-three against CSU. . .Freshman Nick Burley (East Palo Alto, Calif.) had his first career interception and scored his first touchdown on a 27-yard return vs. Colorado State. . .Billy Volek raised his pass completion percentage of .660. . .Receiver Rodney Wright (Bakersfield, Calif.) had a career high 123 yards and two touchdowns against SMU. He is averaging a team-best 16.3 yards per reception which was bolstered by an 83-yard touchdown against the Mustangs.
The Bulldogs are the most penalized teams in the WAC commiting 68 infractions (9.7/game) for 527 yards (75.3 yards/game). Last week, the Bulldogs were whistled for a season-low five penalites for 58 yards.
In the Zone
Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has the Bulldogs ready to score when they get in the red zone (opponent's 20-yard line). The Bulldogs have been in the red zone 29 times and scored on 24 of those opportunities for a pertcentage of .828. Eighteen of those scores have been touchdowns, for a red zone TD percentage of .621. The Bulldogs were 1-2 in the red zone last week, missing one opportunity on a turnover.
'Dogs in NCAA Stats
Here's how the Bulldogs rank in the NCAA statisics this week. Only the top 50 players are ranked.
Player Category NCAA Rank Avg.
Billy Volek Passing Efficiency 5 151.17
Rodney Wright Kickoff Returns 28 24.8
Receiving Yards 46 76.9
Joel Comfort Net Punting 48 41.12
Information on all 20 of Fresno State's intercollegiate athletics programs is available at www.GoBulldogs.com. Releases, game stories and information is posted on a weekly basis.