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FRESNO STATE Team Report
A win over Hawaii this week at home gives Fresno State a strong chance to finish second in the conference. And while a 6-6 overall record wasn't what coach Pat Hill was hoping for back in August, at this point it would make this season a success.
Not surprisingly, the focus of Fresno's media and the fans in the aftermath of the Utah State loss was a change at quarterback, where sophomore Tom Brandstater has struggled, passing for only 154.8 yards per game with six interceptions and five touchdowns.
Hill acknowledged that plays were being designed this week for sophomore Sean Norton, a former Parade All-American who Brandstater beat out this in preseason practice, but the coach said Norton wouldn't start and might not even play.
"This game more than any, (Norton) needs to be on point, on task and ready to go," Hill said. "Because if we need a spark, hopefully he'll provide it.
"The easy answer for people looking from the outside in is you've got to make a lot of changes. There's not a whole bunch of changes that can be made. We've just got to keep getting better at the stuff we do."
Hill said this isn't the ideal week to throw Norton into the fire.
"With a defense like Hawaii, we want to try to limit things for Sean and not make his first game ever where he's got to do everything," Hill said. "If we're going to use him as a spark, we're going to do things specifically to give him a real good chance to be successful."
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense hasn't been bad and is ranked third in the WAC in scoring, passing and rushing defense. However, this week offers a new task, stopping one of the nation's most potent passing attacks. While the secondary will be busy, the line needs to muster some pressure on Warriors QB Colt Brennan.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're struggling a little bit. The easy way is when times are hard to let them struggle on their own. But if you see somebody in the pool struggling, you'd jump in to save them. We need our fans to be there to help us out." -- Fresno State coach Pat Hill
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Hawaii at Fresno State, Oct. 14 -- This is the Bulldogs' final chance to save the season and make a run at second place in the WAC. A win would even give the Bulldogs a chance to claim the conference title -- if they could somehow defeat Boise State at home on Nov. 1. Hawaii can cement its chances for a bowl invitation with a victory.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Tom Brandstater -- The struggling sophomore is on a short leash, and while Fresno State coach Pat Hill refuses to lay the blame for this season's struggles at Brandstater's feet, the coach is ready to see what sophomore Sean Norton can offer.
RB Dwayne Wright -- He's second in the WAC and seventh nationally with more than 132 yards rushing per game, but defenses are starting to focus on him. Hawaii defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville will likely have his unit's focus squarely on shutting down Wright.
PK Clint Stitser -- It appears Hill is sticking with his struggling kicker for another week, but after an assortment of missed field goals and botched kickoffs, his leash is also a short one.
ROSTER REPORT: LB Marcus Riley, who missed the first two games of the season recovering from a knee injury suffered last season, suffered a bruised right leg in the second quarter of the Utah State loss and did not return. He's questionable for this week's game with Hawaii.
WR Paul Williams (bruised knee) missed a game for the first time in four seasons last week against Utah State and hopes to return this Saturday against Hawaii. Fresno State coach Pat Hill isn't sure, though.
Previous Report: 10/08/2006