Football Takes a Week Off in Preparation for Las Vegas Bowl
Behind efforts like running back Derrick Ward, the Fresno State Bulldogs were able to win the WAC and gain a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Behind efforts like running back Derrick Ward, the Fresno State Bulldogs were able to win the WAC and gain a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl.
This Week
The Bulldogs will have about a month off to prepare for the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl which is scheduled for Sat., Dec. 18 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev. The opponent will be the second choice from the Mountain West Conference, which will likely be named after the conclusion of the regular season. The Bulldogs earned their fourth bowl invitation this decade with a 63-12 win over rival San Jose State to clinch a share of the WAC championship.

WAC Championship Scenario
Hawai'i and Fresno State have clinched at least a share of the WAC title with matching 5-2 records. Either TCU or SMU will get into the championship picture each with two league losses. SMU plays at TCU Nov. 26 to conclude the WAC season.

Ticket and Travel Packages
The Fresno State Athletic Department has tickets for sale for the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl for $45 and $125. The athletic department is also offering complete travel packages for fans, which will include transportation, hotel accomodations, tailgating and game tickets. For information and reservations call (559) 278-4033.

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).

        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      8-4    .667   5-2  .714   6-0    2-4
TOTALS   19-16   .543  15-8  .652  14-3    5-13

Goin' to Glitter Gulch
The Bulldogs have earned their 14th bowl berth and the fourth of this decade by claiming a share of the 1999 WAC championship and the accompanying EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl invitation. Fresno State's last bowl appearance was in 1993 when the shared the WAC title and were invited to the Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl, losing to Colorado 41-30.

Best in the West
Fresno State continues to be one of hottest teams in the West, having won 12 of its last 17 games. Of the Division I-A schools located in the Mountain, Pacific and Hawaiian time zones, only one school - Air Force - has a better record than the Bulldogs during that time.

1.  Air Force       13-4
2.  Fresno State    12-5
    Arizona         12-5
    BYU             12-5
    Wyoming         12-5
    Utah            12-5
7.  Oregon          11-6
    Colorado State  11-6
9.  Colorado        10-7
    Stanford        10-7

WAC Coaching Leader
Pat Hill is the active WAC coaching leader with a record of 15-8 (.652), just ahead Rice's Ken Hatfield, who owns a record of 14-9 (.609).

In Case You Missed It
Fresno State's 63-12 win over San Jose State was the largest margin of victory of the 64 games played in this great rivalry. . .The Bulldogs finished the season perfect at home with a 6-0 record. . .Freshman quarterback Jeff Grady's first college completion was for a touchdown, a 23-yarder to Atnaf Harris, who caught his first career TD. . .Fourth-team running back Josh Levi had a school record 94-yard run late in the game. He finished as the team's leading rusher with 123 yards. . .Fresno State's 685 total yards vs. San Jose State was the most since the 1991 season when the Bulldogs had school-record 757 vs. New Mexico. . .The Bulldogs were penalized just four times in the game, the fewest in a game this season. . .Fresno State's 1999 average home attendance of 37,231 is the third-best attendance figure in school history. . .With their 8-4 record, the Bulldogs have their best record since 1993, also an 8-4 campaign. . .Fresno State's six touchdown passes vs. San Jose State equals the school record set vs. Long Beach State in 1978.

1999 Awards Watch
With the end of the season approaching, it's awards time for the Bulldogs. The team awards banquet was held Sun., Nov. 21, at the Radisson Convention Center. Here are the 1999 Bulldog Award winners as selected by their teammates. Most Valuable Player: Billy Volek

Dick Duncan Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Danny Jones
Dick Duncan Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: David Carr

Most Valuable Offensive Lineman: Rob Gatrell
Most Valuable Defensive Lineman: Alan Harper

Most Valuable Offensive Back: Rodney Wright
Most Valuable Defensive Back: Vernon Fox

Special Team Player of the Year: Jeff Hanna
Director?s Academic Award: Giachino Chiaramonte

Coach?s Award: Rasheed Saafir, Jeromy Blackwell
Most Inspirational Player (tie): Chad Ede, Alan Harper

Volek Breaks NCAA Record
Billy Volek's accuracy as a passer has earned him a place in the NCAA record books. Volek set an NCAA career record for lowest percentage of passes interception. Volek's percentage of 1.3 (12-954) is better than the previous record of 2.4 set by Utah State's Anthony Calvillo (1992-93), who threw 19 interceptions in 829 attempts.

Who's Hotter?
Can there be any quarterback in the nation hotter than Billy Volek? Not only did he set an NCAA record for having the lowest pass interception pecentage in history, Volek threw his 30th touchdown over the weekend, giving him more TD passes than some of the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidates, including: Kevin Feterik, BYU (25), Drew Brees, Purdue (21), Doug Johnson, Florida (20), Chris Weinke, Florida State (25) and Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech (25). What's most impressive is that he thrown just three interceptions the entire season in 355 attempts, an average of one for every 118 attempts. He as a current streak of 178 pass attempts without an interception. For his career, Volek has thrown 12 interceptions in 938 attempts for an average of one every 78 attempts. His touchdown-interception ratio for the season is 30:3 and for his career is 57:12. Volek's focus this season has been amazing when you factor into the equation that he and his wife Kerri were expecting their first child, a daughter, Morgan, born Nov. 24.

Valuable Volek
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 52:12. Volek is leading the WAC and ranks sixth in the NCAA in pass efficiency with a 147.2 rating.

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   151     3    1,973  .579   10    63
1999   12-12  355   235     3    2,559  .662   30    83
TOTALS 35-35  934   564    12    6,385  .604   57    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
3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93)  1,016    7,631   154     7,785
4. Billy Volek (1996-)       928    6,385   -178    6,207

Passing Yards A-C-I Pct. Yards 3. Trent Dilfer (1991-93) 865-511-22 .591 7,631 4. Billy Volek 934-564-12 .604 6,385
Touchdown Passes TDs 1. Kevin Sweeney (1991-93) 66 2. Billy Volek (1996-) 57
In Sync
Billy Volek has just one interception in the last nine games. In fact, he has just one in the last 38 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 and currently owns another 100-plus streak (178). He broke his own WAC record for lowest interception percentage for a season and a career. Volek has just three interceptions in 355 attempts this season (0.84) breaking the record he set last season of 1.15 (3-261) and 12 pick in 954 career attempts for an NCAA all-time best percentage of 1.28, bettering his previous WAC record of 1.55.

"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.

Payton's Place
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 each of the last two seasons. He will be on the national ballot for the 1999 GTE Academic All-America team. A sociology major, Williams represented Fresno State at the NCAA Leadership Conference last spring. Despite being hampered with a strained hamstring over the last six games, Williams has been Fresno State's leader in the secondary. He has two interceptions in his final game at Bulldog Stadium.

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. Despite missing those two games, he is second in the team in tackles with 78.

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 46 times and scored on 40 of those opportunities for a pertcentage of .870. Thirty of those scores have been touchdowns, for a red zone TD percentage of .652. The Bulldogs were 5-5 in the red zone last week with five touchdowns.

No Holding Harper
Sophomore defensive tackle Alan Harper (Fontana, Calif.) has been a one-man wrecking crew on the Bulldog defensive front. He is fourth on the team in tackles with 74 and leads the team with 14 tackles for losses for 41 yards. In addition, he leads Fresno State in quarterback hurries with nine and has four sacks for 18 yards. He also leads the team in forced fumbles with two. He has been nominated for WAC Defensive Player of the Year.

1,000 Club
Sophomore receiver Rodney Wright became just 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. Wright needed 132 yards in his final game to reach 1,000 yards and he finished with 139 for a season total of 68 receptions for 1,007 yards and seven touchdowns.
Bulldogs 1,000-yard Receivers

Year   Player              Rec.  Yards
1982   Henry Ellard        62    1,510
1984   Larry Willis        79    1,251
1996   Brian Roberson      78    1,248
1995   Charlie Jones       71    1,171
1983   Larry Willis        63    1,009
1999   Rodney Wright       68    1,007 
Fabulous in the Fourth
Here are some fourth quarter Bulldog bullets for 1999: * Shutout the opponents in three of the last five games
* Allowed just 17 points in the last four games
* Allowed just 23 points in the last six games
* Outscored the opponent 102-46 this season
* Outscored the opponent 48-14 in the last five games
* Outscored the opponent 81-26 in the last eight games

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. 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: * Fresno State has four blocked punts
* Derrick Ward has two blocked punts for touchdowns
* Opponents are averaging 34.1 net yards punting
* Opponents have just 78 total punt return yards for a 4.2 average
* Fresno State has downed 33% (18 of 55) of its punts inside the 20-yard line
* Fresno State is 10-13 in field goals
* The 'Dogs average drive start after a kickoff is the 29-yard line
* Opponent's kick return average is 20.2 yards

WAC Leaders
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 (33.1), third down conversions (.500), and turnover margin (+4).

Young Pups
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.

Ward Watch
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 824 yards and a 6.2 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.

'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 152.9 Total Offense 38th 208.7

Rodney Wright All-Purpose Yards 31st 135.33 Receptions Per Game 32nd 5.67 Receiving Yards 31st 83.92



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