Who are these masked guys?
No, seriously. Some of us are getting ready to work on our sunburn at Fresno State football camp this week and we haven’t the first when it comes to matching names and faces to jerseys and numbers.
These Bulldogs aren’t trying to go back to where they once were; these college kids are trying to go someplace they’ve never been, which is north of the 3-9 marker.
We know who the Bulldogs were last season. We know who these Bulldogs aren’t, which is the reincarnation of the 2012 Bulldogs that flipped a nine-loss roster into co-kings of the Mountain West Conference.
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They say quarterback Chason Virgil is back, which is to say he and the cockroaches are the only ones to outlast the rest of last year’s position group. Cornerback Tyquwan Glass rings a bell, but does this Bulldogs defense really want us to remember anyone associated with last season’s dry-rot of a showing?
We know who the Bulldogs were last season, what with their nine-times-out-of-12 losses, clown-car offense and staff of assistants who were about to turn in their state-issued keycards.
We know who these Bulldogs aren’t, which is the reincarnation of the 2012 Bulldogs that flipped a nine-loss roster into co-kings of the Mountain West Conference. That team had Derek Carr, Robbie Rouse, Phillip Thomas and Davante Adams on the scholarship deck.
This 95th rendition of Fresno State football is a bunch of generic nameplates with unverified credentials and no fallback position if the front-row players’ health or performance fails.
Anything after Win No. 3 qualifies as pleasant enough of a surprise.
That means they can’t possibly disappoint us, because there are no expectations to come up short against.
What they can be, however, is a pleasant surprise, and anything after Win No. 3 qualifies as pleasant enough of a surprise.
Grab some Kool-Aid. Let’s imagine together before the playing of games spoils the vine.
Maybe the Bulldogs don’t lose by half-a-hundred in the spaghetti Western of a season opener at Nebraska. Maybe they tidy up on Toledo at the Glass Bowl two weeks later.
Maybe, just maybe, they win the West Division, because someone has to be the least-worst team in this iron-deficient gathering of football nonpowers. To not win four games in this conference is to deserve everything you don’t get on national signing day next spring.
Who knows? Maybe this band of little-knowns gives the Red Wave reason to show up before halftime and stay until the fourth quarter.
If you want reason to hope, this would be the time to do it.
Let’s see what offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau and defensive shot-caller Lorenzo Ward can do when Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier aren’t filling their huddles with SEC recruits.
Here’s to offensive line coach Mark Weber making a Logan Mankins or Ryan Wendell out of this corn-fed crop of blockers.
Virgil might become coach Tim DeRuyter’s first great recruit, and four seasons into this DeRuyter experiment, that library book is more than overdue. Or, graduate transfer Zach Kline emerges as the one-hit wonder Brandon Connette never got to be in 2014.
Who knows? Maybe this band of little-knowns gives the Red Wave reason to show up before halftime and stay until the fourth quarter. For all we know, the Bulldog Shop is about to have a run on red shirts surnamed Peck, Vazquez and Otukolo.
It can’t get any worse than last season, when San Jose State was out-Fresno Stating Fresno State, of all people. They can only get better for the experience, assuming the experience doesn’t involve group rates on ligament surgery.
Here’s to unsoiled slates and fresh starts. Grab a program, get over the Nebraska disaster in advance, and give these new faces a chance to make their own impression.
1. Welcome back to the Olympic Games, the only sporting event that hands out its medals with self-addressed envelopes and Forever stamps – thus, making it easier for scores of 2016 champions to mail back their gold years later when their failed drug tests pop up. Remember that before naming your next-born based on the sculls competition results.
2. Let me get this straight: Oklahoma City lost Kevin Durant to a California basketball team, and picked up baseball player Yasiel Puig from a California baseball team? They’ll be going to the mattresses with us on this one, guaranteed.
3. May the Giants’ newly acquired pitchers Matt Moore and Will Smith be the modern-day version of Dave Dravecky and Craig Lefferts, two lefties who helped the Giants win the West after a 1987 deadline trade. Of course, those two brought Kevin Mitchell along for the bus ride from San Diego, so maybe not.
Fresno State football key dates
Monday: First day in full pads
Saturday: Scrimmage No. 1 (open to public)
Aug. 20: Scrimmage No. 2
Aug. 26: Scrimmage No. 3
Sept. 3: Season opener at Nebraska, 5 p.m. PDT