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StarBulletin.com

Bulldogs remain dangerous


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POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

Pat Hill has weathered various challenges over 12 years at Fresno State. He expects this to be among the roughest, mostly for reasons removed from the playing field.

The economic downturn has hit the California schools hard, leading to pay cuts and furloughs for employees of the state university system. The program has had to make strategic cuts to trim spending, but Hill is shielding the Bulldogs from the external concerns.

“;I told our team the only thing we can control is our work ethic and how we prepare and how we play,”; Hill said.

; Hill has again assembled a boom-or-bust schedule, with road games at Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Illinois and just five home dates.

Strengths

The Bulldogs are again stacked with talent at the skill positions. They return their top four rushers and a veteran receiver corps. Lonyae Miller averaged nearly 7 yards per carry in leading the Bulldogs' ground game. Receivers Seyi Ajirotutu, Chastin West and Marlon Moore are big-play threats. Hill expects to use multiple quarterbacks as junior Ryan Colburn and freshmen Derek Carr and Ebahn Feathers contend for the job. Feathers adds a dual threat to an offense accustomed to pocket passers.

Weaknesses

The offensive line lost four starters and will have to hold up for the young quarterbacks to thrive and the running game to reach its potential. Replacing tight end Bear Pascoe, one of the offense's most reliable weapons the last three years, won't be easy. The Bulldogs struggled to stop the run last season, finishing eighth in the WAC.