How is this year different?
SF Gater again taking the gauntlet as guest on the Fresno State Bulldog Blog. As previously mentioned, those who pay attention to college football are placing the Bulldogs in their top-25s, and the team may be the presumptive favorites to win the conference for the first time since 1999. Nevertheless there are naysayers who point out that the Boise State Broncos have dominated the WAC since joining the conference in 2001, that they have not lost a WAC game at home since joining the conference, that Fresno State has a record for being, in Stewart Mandel’s words, the “Clemson of mid-majors: A big tease.” This raises the question- is this year different? How?
A corollary to the above question might be, how were all those other years different? I propose that this year’s team is a unique entity, one radically unlike those preceding it in several important respects. The first is experience. As much of the team was injured last year, many bench players had an opportunity to get valuable game experience, while many of the starters had played in previous seasons. One of the major separating factors between BCS and mid-major teams has long proven to be depth- often the starters may be comparable, but there is a radical divide in the second string down, where backups at BCS schools would likely start at their mid-major counterparts.
The biggest difference made is in fortitude and discipline, the ability to shake off a loss. Each of the previous few seasons has an example of a though loss that affected the next game, and the one after, in a negative way. Last year, however, was different. The Texas A&M loss is a key case in point. After going into the half with a big deficit, the Bulldogs rallied and tied the game, taking it into three overtimes before a crushing loss. The next week was never a contest, with the Bulldogs losing by several touchdowns to
I think the composition of this bulldog team is different from previous years. The offense will be composed nearly entirely of returning starters, and the bench players behind them largely come into the game with experience. The key might be how to play in adverse circumstances, and the Bulldogs have proven they are able to do so.
Opening the season at