September 10, 2008

Inside Fresno State: Offense

MADISON, Wis. - Fresno State is hands down the Badgers toughest non-conference opponent in 2008. To make it more difficult, UW will travel to Bulldog stadium for their home opener to face the No. 21 Bulldogs Saturday night where they are 10-1 in home openers under head coach Pat Hill.

After upending both Akron and Marshall in their first two games, the Badgers will definitely be tested out in the San Joaquin Valley this weekend. The following is an inside look at the Bulldogs' offense:

Quarterback: FSU's senior quarterback is slowly climbing up the ranks in school history for passing yards. Tom Brandstater currently sits in ninth place on the all-time Fresno State list with 4, 409 career passing yards and 29 interceptions.

In their only game at Rutgers, Brandstater went 11-for-24 for 216 yards. For a Badger secondary that has had problems with wide receivers slipping behind the defense, this veteran quarterback may be able to expose UW's defense.

Running backs: Fresno State features a couple of backs listed on their two deep that are talented. In week one against Rutgers, Ryan Mathews led the team in rushing yards with 163 on 26 carries. Lonyae Miller pitched in a cool 29 on only five carries in that opener.

So far this season, the Badgers have limited their opponents to 72.5 yards per game. However, the Fresno State attack will easily be UW's first true test for the front seven on the early season.

Wide receivers and tight ends: Seyi Ajirotutu started his junior season with 116 yards receiving on three catches against the Scarlet Knights. He is a player that is capable of flashing his speed and could be a nuisance in the Badger secondary.

The Bulldogs also feature 2006 standout Chastin West, although he did miss all of 2007 with an injury suffered in fall camp. Marlon Moore returns as last seasons leading receiver and has a similar style to former Fresno State great Bernard Berrian.

Overall, the Bulldogs have great experience at the position with five juniors and only two underclassmen.

Arguably their most talented weapon on offense, though, is tight end Bear Pascoe. In the season opener he logged three catches for 24 yards but has potential to tally much more than that. A season ago, he finished with 45 receptions for 552 yards and four touchdowns.

Offensive line: Four members of the offensive line have logged significant playing time in their career and three are returning starters. Center Richard Pacheco played both center and guard in 2007, but playing time was limited. Left guard Cole Popovich has seen significant action, but has been bothered by injuries his entire career.

Against Rutgers, this unit helped pave the way for a combined 206-yard rushing performance. Weighing an average of 289 pounds in the trenches, this will be a formidable force for the Badger defensive linemen.

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