Coming off the second overtime victory of the year, the Bulldogs look to keep the momentum going when they take on the Golden Hurricane Sat. at noon.
Oct. 25, 1999
FRESNO, Calif. - This Week
The Bulldogs, who at 5-3 are off to their best start since the 1993 season, will be making their first trip to Tulsa, Okla., to take on the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane. It is the first meeting between the two WAC schools. Tulsa is 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the WAC and coming off a home loss to Hawai'i 35-21. The Bulldogs enter the week having won nine of their last 13 games dating back to last season. All four losses have been on the road. Fresno State is 1-3 on the road this season, and its only WAC loss coming on the road, at SMU, Oct. 14.
Fresno State kept its WAC championship hopes alive with a thrilling 24-23 overtime victory over UTEP at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State led UTEP 17-6 but the Miners battled back and tied the game at 17-17 to force overtime. Fresno State scored on its first possesion of overtime on a 4-yard pass from Billy Volek to Paris Gaines. The Miners answered with a touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Jay Stuckey to tight end Brian Natkin. In an attempt to win the game, UTEP went for the two-point conversion and failed when Giachino Chiaramonte stopped UTEP fullback Elzie Johnson on the 1-yard line.
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 .500 5-3 .625 4-2 2-4
1998 5-6 .454 5-3 .625 4-1 1-5
1999 5-3 .635 2-1 .667 4-0 1-3
TOTALS 16-15 .516 12-7 .632 12-3 4-12
'Dogs vs. Golden Hurricane
This will be the first ever meeting between Tulsa and Fresno State.
vs. Oklahoma Schools
Fresno State has an 0-3 all-time record against schools from Oklahoma. However, its recent history those schools has been very limited. The last time the Bulldogs played an Oklahoma school was Sept. 13, 1997, a 35-0 loss at Oklahoma State. Fresno State’s only other encounters with Oklahoma schools came in 1946 and 1947 when it took on Oklahoma City in a home-and-home series and lost both games.
The Bulldogs and Golden Hurricane have one common opponent – TCU. Fresno State played TCU on Oct. 2 and won 26-19 in overtime in one of the year’s most exciting victories. Tulsa was defeated by TCU 56-17 on Oct. 16.
In Case You Missed It
The Bulldogs continued their WAC dominance at home under Pat Hill with their ninth win in 10 games. . .Fresno State's only two overtime victories in history have come this season . ..Both of Fresno State's WAC wins have been in overtime. . .Rodney Wright had career-highs for receptions (seven) and receiving yards (156) vs. UTEP. . .The Miners have not beat the Bulldogs since 1938. . .UTEP held the ball for nearly 39 minutes of the football game (38:42) and ran 96 offensive plays to Fresno State's 57. . .The Bulldogs were 3-12 on third down conversions, their worst performance of the season. . .Fresno State continues to lead the WAC in scoring (29.4 points per game). . .The victory over UTEP was the first one-point home victory since Dec. 18, 1982, the 1982 California Bowl, a 29-28 victory over Bowling Green. . .Fresno State won its 35th WAC game in Bulldog Stadium and owns a 35-7 WAC record at home. . .Fresno State will be playing its second game of the season on artificial turf. The Bulldogs are 0-1 this season on the fake stuff, a loss at Oregon State, and will play two of their next three games on plastic grass.
"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 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 33.7 net yards punting
o Opponents have just 58 total punt return yards for a 3.9 average
o Fresno State has downed 14 of its 43 punts inside the 20-yard line
Can there be any quarterback in the nation hotter than Billy Volek? Volek threw his 20th touchdown over the weekend, giving him more TD passes than some of the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidates including: Drew Brees, Purdue (18), Tim Rattay, La. Tech (18), Doug Johnson, Florida (18), Chris Weinke, Florida State (15) and Joe Hamilton, Ga. Tech (14). What's most impressive is that he thrown just three interceptions the entire season in 231 attempts, an average of one for every 77 attempts. He has thrown just one pick in the last 22 quarters over a four game stretch. For his career, Volek has thrown 12 interceptions in 810 attempts for an average of one every 67.5 attempts. His touchdown-interception ratio for the season is 20:3 and for his career is 47:12.
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 Yards 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 8-8 231 149 3 1,698 .645 20 83
TOTALS 31-31 810 478 12 5,524 .590 47 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 Needed to Pass
3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 1016 7,631 154 7,785 2,409
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 854 5,524 -147 5,377
Passing Yards A-C-I Pct Yards Needed to Pass
3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 865-511-22 .591 7,631 2,108
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 810-478-12 .590 5,524
Touchdown Passes TDs Needed to Pass
3. Mark Barsotti (1988-91) 50 4
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 47
Billy Volek has just one interception in the last five games. In fact, he has just one in the last 22 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 .645 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 and missed last week's game vs. UTEP. He could return to action at Tulsa.
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. After missing two games, he returned to action against UTEP and finished with seven tackles.
The Bulldogs are WAC leaders in several categories: scoring offense (29.4), punt returns (10.2) and punting (40/2).
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 532 yards and a 7.3 per carry average, he also 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. Ward also has the top two rushing games by a freshman in school history, 176 yards vs. Nevada and 156 yards vs. Colorado State.
Turning it Around
Fresno State came into this season with an 0-3 all-time record in overtime but have won both overtime games so far in 1999. The season’s first overtime game came Oct. 2 against TCU, which the Bulldogs won 26-19. Fresno State again came through in the extra session last Saturday against UTEP 24-23. Both of the Bulldogs’ overtime wins have come in the first overtime. The season's two overtime games ties the record for the most in school history. Fresno State also played two in 1996, losing to Oregon and Air Force.
Wright Place, Wright Time
Sophomore wide receiver Rodney Wright (Bakersfield, Calif.) has displayed his big-play capability in the past two games. He caught an 83-yard touchdown pass against SMU then got the Bulldogs on the board against UTEP with a 65-yard TD. On the season, Wright leads all Fresno State receivers with 40 catches for 694 yards, good for an average of 17.4 yards per reception. In his last two games combined, he has 12 receptions for 279 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 23.5 yards per reception in the last two games.
Punter Joel Comfort (Hughson, Calif.) had one of his best games with a 47.6 yard average against UTEP. In addition, he pinned UTEP inside its 20-yard line on four punts. He moved from 48th to 31st in the NCAA in punting average this week. . .Giachino Chiaramonte (Santa Cruz, Calif.) was the WAC Defensive Player of the Week vs. UTEP after making six tackles, had two pass deflections, recovered a fumble and made a game-winning tackle on the 1-yard line in overtime to prevent UTEP fullback Elzie Johnson from scoring a two-point conversion. . .Paris Gaines (Vista, Calif.) had 60 yards rushing and his first career touchdown reception against UTEP. . .Jeff Hanna (Alta Loma, Calif.) is 7-9 on field goal attempts and is perfect (7-7) on attempts under 40-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 31 times and scored on 26 of those opportunities for a pertcentage of .839. Nineteen of those scores have been touchdowns, for a red zone TD percentage of .613. The Bulldogs were 2-2 in the red zone last week with one touchdown and one field goal.
'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 5th 152.2
Total Offense 38th 208.5
Rodney Wright All-Purpose Yards 24th 137.75
Kickoff Returns 25th 24.8
Receiving Yards 34th 86.75
Receptions Per Game 50th 5.0
Joel Comfort Net Punting 31st 42.2