The Bulldogs can clinch at least a share of the conference crown with a win on the island Sat. at 8 p.m. PST.
Nov. 8, 1999
FRESNO, Calif. - This Week
The Bulldogs travel to Hawai'i with more than sandy beaches on their mind. Fresno State can claim at least a share of the WAC championship with a victory over the Rainbow Warriors, who also have WAC title hopes with a victory. The Bulldogs are one of the hottest teams on the West Coast with 11 wins in their last 15 games and enter this week having already captured the school's first winning season since 1993. That season the Bulldogs were 8-4, WAC tri-champs, and earned an invitation to the Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl.
WAC Championship Scenario
Fresno State is the only team in the WAC that can control its own destiny in winning a league championship and automatic invitation to the Las Vegas Bowl. If the Bulldogs win the final two games they will win the championship. A victory in one of the last two games insures at least a share of the WAC championship. Hawai'i is playing its final WAC game this week and not only needs a victory over Fresno State but would need help from other teams to win the title outright. A win over Fresno State would insure the Rainbow Warriors at least a share of the league title with a 5-2 record, but more importantly make them bowl eligible. Rice, TCU and SMU, each with two league loses, all have the ability to earn a piece of the WAC championship.
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 7-3 .700 4-1 .800 5-0 2-3
TOTALS 18-15 .545 14-7 .667 13-3 5-12
All-Time vs. Hawai?i
Hawai?i has a narrow 17-13-1 lead in the all-time series with Fresno State. However, it holds a distinct advantage all-time in games played on the island. Since the series began in 1939, Hawai?i holds a 10-5 all-time record in games played in Honolulu, including a 1-8 record since 1967. Fresno State is 4-1-1 at home against the Rainbow Warriors in that same time period. Ironically, one of the more famous games played between the two came in 1985, when the Bulldogs and Rainbow Warriors fought to a 24-24 tie. It proved to be the lone blemish on the record of Fresno State that year, which ended with a record of 11-0-1, defeated Bowling Green 51-7 in the California Bowl, finished the year ranked No. 16 in the nation and was the only unbeaten Division I-A team.
They?ve Been Bowling
A little known fact about the Fresno State-Hawai?i rivalry is that they matched up in the 1941 Pineapple Bowl. The Jan. 1 game in Honolulu pitted the 8-2-1 Bulldogs against the 2-4 Rainbow Warriors. In the lowest scoring game in series history, Fresno State snuck by Hawai?i 3-0 on Dale Mickelwait?s 18-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
WAC Coaching Leader
Pat Hill surpassed Rice coach Ken Hatfield as the WAC's active coaching leader in winning percentage. Hill has a WAC record of 14-7 (.667), just ahead of Hatfield, who owns a record of 14-8 (.636). TCU's Dennis Franchione is third at 13-8 (.619).
In Case You Missed It
Rodney Wright's 49-yard touchdown pass to Saleem Mahdi was the first TD pass by a non-quarterback since Oct. 17, 1998, when punter Jeff Roberts connected with Charles Smith on a 37-yard score. . .Fresno State's 27 first half points tied the mark for most in a half this season. The Bulldogs had 27points in the first half against Nevada. . .Derrick Ward had 149 yards rushing, the third time this year he has surpassed the century mark. Fresno State is 3-0 when get he gets over 100 yards. . .The 39,097 attendance vs. Rice was the ninth-largest crowd in Bulldog Stadium history. . .Fresno State held Rice to 99 rushing yards, its lowest output of the season. The Owls, who ranked third in the NCAA in rushing yardage (240.7 yards per game) before the game, had 142 rushing yards at Michigan for the previous low. . .The Bulldogs had just five penalties last Saturday, tying for the season-low. . .Fresno State has won seven games for the first time since 1993. . .Fresno State has not committed a turnover in consecutive games. The last time Fresno State turned the ball over was a Derrick Ward fumble in the fourth quarter of the UTEP game, Oct. 23. . .Fresno State got one vote in the USA Today Coaches Poll and three votes in the AP poll this week. . .The Bulldogs remained perfect at home (5-0) this season. . .Billy Volek surpassed the 2,000-yard passing mark for the season, the first time he has accomplished that in his career. He also threw his 24th touchdown and is four from the single season record of 28 set by Trent Dilfer in 1993. . .Seven different players (Billy Volek, Paris Gaines, Saleem Mahdi, Derrick Ward, Cahrles Smith, Bernard Berrian and Josh Levi) scored touchdowns last week vs. Rice. For Berrian and Levi, it was their first touchdowns in a Bulldog uniform.
Best in the West
Fresno State has been one of hottest teams in the West, having won 11 of its last 15 games. Of the Division I-A schools located in the Mountain, Pacific and Hawaiian time zones, only two schools - Air Force and BYU - have better records than the Bulldogs during that time.
BEST IN THE WEST
1. Air Force 12-3
3. Fresno State 11-4
5. Wyoming 10-5
7. Oregon 9-6
Colorado State 9-6
9. Washington 8-7
Oregon State 8-7
Can there be any quarterback in the nation hotter than Billy Volek? Volek threw his 24tht touchdown over the weekend, giving him more TD passes than some of the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidates including, Kevin Feterik, BYU (22), Drew Brees, Purdue (21), Doug Johnson, Florida (19), Chris Weinke, Florida State (18) and Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech (19). What's most impressive is that he thrown just three interceptions the entire season in 273 attempts, an average of one for every 91 attempts. He as a current streak of 94 pass attempts without an interception. For his career, Volek has thrown 12 interceptions in 854 attempts for an average of one every 71.2 attempts. His touchdown-interception ratio for the season is 24:3 and for his career is 51:12. Volek's focus this season has been amazing when you factor into the equation that he is about to become a father. Billy and his wife, Kerri, and he are expecting their first child, which is due this week.
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 21 touchdowns to just three interceptions. For his career he has an impressive TD-Interception ratio of 48:12. Volek is leading the WAC and ranks fourth in the NCAA in pass efficiency with a 149.8 rating.
Volek's Career Passing Statistics
Year G-GS Att Comp Int Yards Pct TD Long
1997 12-12 318 178 6 1,853 .560 17 47
1998 11-11 261 161 3 1,973 .579 10 63
1999 10-10 273 179 3 2,013 .656 24 83
TOTALS 33-33 852 508 12 5,839 .596 51 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 FS career record books:
Total Offense Plays Pass Rush Yards Needed to Pass
3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 1,016 7,631 154 7,785 2,107
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 871 5,839 -160 5,679
Passing Yards A-C-I Pct Yards Needed to Pass
3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 865-511-22 .591 7,631 1,793
4. Billy Volek (1996-) 852-508-12 .596 5,679
Touchdown Passes TDs Needed to Pass
2. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 53 3
3. Billy Volek (1996-) 51
Billy Volek has just one interception in the last seven games. In fact, he has just one in the last 30 quarters. He had a streak of 111 passes without an interception that was snapped with his third interception of the season Oct. 14 against SMU. He is on pace to break the school's single season record for completion percentage. He is currently completing .656 of his attempts. The Fresno State record is .644 by Mark Barsotti in 1991.
"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.
Senior cornerback Payton Williams (Moreno Valley, Calif.) is considered one of the top players at his position in the nation. In addition to his work on the Bulldog special teams, 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. Despite being hampered with a strained hamstring over the last five game, Williams has been Fresno State's leader in the secondary.
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. 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.
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 769 yards and a 6.9 per carry average, he also leads the team with six 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. Ward needs to average 115.5 yards per game over the last two games to reach 1,000 for the season. He would become the first freshman in school history to accomplish that.
Fabulous in the Fourth
Here are some fourth quarter Bulldog bullets for 1999:
- Shutout the opponents in each of the last three games
- Allowed just three points in the last four games
- Allowed just nine points in the last five games
- Outscored the opponent 74-32 this season
- Outscored the opponent 20-0 in the last three games
- Outscored the opponent 53-12 in the last six games
- Outscored the opponent 67-18 in the last seven games
Fresno State continues to lead the WAC in several categories, including scoring and third down conversions, two offensive areas they have been leading virtually all season. Fresno State is leading the WAC in the following areas: Scoring (31.0), Third Down Conversions (.476), Punt Returns (12.6) and turnover margin (+5).
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 37 times and scored on 32 of those opportunities for a pertcentage of .864. Twenty-three of those scores have been touchdowns, for a red zone TD percentage of .622. The Bulldogs were perfect in the red zone last week (3-3) with three touchdowns.
Fresno State?s special teams has been one of the highlights of the squad the entire season, and never was the quality of the Bulldogs? special teams never more evident than against Rice. The Owls? finished the game with an average starting field position on the 23-yard line. The solid special teams play shows up in the latest NCAA rankings, which has the Bulldogs 10th in the nation in net punting and 18th in punt returns. In addition, Charles Smith ranks 10th in the nation in punt return with an average of 14.3 per return.
Two Bulldogs are zeroing in on 1,000 yards for the season. Freshman running back Derrick Ward needs 231rushing yards in his final two games, 115.5 per game average, to reach that milestone. The Bulldogs have produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last three seasons and eight in the last 10 years. Sophomore receiver Rodney Wright needs 190 yards, 95 yards per game, for 1,000 receiving yards this season. Wright would become the sixth receiver in Bulldog history to reach 1,000 yards. The last 1,000-yard receiver was Brian Roberson, who had 1,248 yards in 1996.
Rushing Att. Yards Needs for 1,000 Needs to Average
Derrick Ward 112 769 231 115.5
Isn't That Special?
Receiving Rec. Yards Needs for 1,000 Needs to Average
Rodney Wright 52 810 190 95.0
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. Earlier this season,the Bulldogs had a streak of blocking 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 four blocked punts
o Derrick Ward has two blocked punts for touchdowns
o Opponents are averaging 32.7 net yards punting
o Opponents have just 72 total punt return yards for a 4.2 average
o Fresno State has downed 34% (17 of 50) of its punts inside the 20-yard line
o Fresno State is 9-11 in field goals
o The 'Dogs average drive start after a kickoff is the 29-yard line
o Opponent's kick return average is 20.8 yards
A Contrast in Style
Fresno State will be facing almost an exact opposite offensive style this week against Hawai?i. Last week, when the Bulldogs faced Rice's spread option attack, it went up against the WAC?s leading rushing team but also the worst passing offense in the league. This week, Fresno State goes up against Hawai?i and it's run and shoot, which has the WAC?s lowest ranked rushing attack (92.1 yds. per game) but the leader in passing yardage (321.3 yds. per game). The 'Dogs are allowing 258.7 passing yards per game but have allowed a league-low 12 touchdowns passes.
He?s Special, Too
Kicker Jeff Hanna did not kick a field goal last week, but he was perfect on all five of his extra points. He now ranks tied for third in the WAC in scoring (6.0 points per game). He is also tied for the conference lead in field goals made with UTEP kicker Ricky Bishop (nine) and ranks second in field goal percentage (.818).
'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 4th 154.32
Total Offense 44th 197.00
Charles Smith Punt Returns 10th 14.33
Rodney Wright All-Purpose Yardage 34th 127.70
Kickoff Returns 39th 22.68
Receiving Yards 41st 81.00
Receptions Per Game 50th 5.20