To his teammates, Garrett McIntyre is known as Mac. To opposing coaches he's known as the WAC's premier defensive player. But McIntyre's best friends, who noticed how his upper body swayed like Shrek's when he walked, tagged him with the nickname Ookla. "It's supposed to represent an eat-with-your-hands, walk-with-a-club Cro-Magnon," says McIntyre, a senior defensive end. "I don't know where they got it. There are more ogreish guys on the defensive line than me. I'm a bit more athletic."
A former linebacker who walked on at Fresno, the 6'3", 250-pound McIntyre makes up for his lack of size with quickness, technique and relentless pursuit--in '04 he led the team with seven sacks and had 10� tackles for loss. "He doesn't have the physical features of a great defensive lineman, but he has a motor," says coach Pat Hill. "He plays with passion, and he was that way the day he walked onto the practice field." Before the Bulldogs' 37-34 victory over Virginia in the MPC Computers Bowl last December, Cavaliers coach Al Groh said McIntyre plays like a "rolling ball of nails."
Even with McIntyre, Fresno has never won an outright WAC title. Most maddeningly, the Bulldogs have lost four straight to Boise State despite winning nine games against BCS conference schools in that span. This year's team, however, could be as good as the 2001 squad, which stunned Colorado and Wisconsin and climbed to No. 8 in the country. Over the final six games of '04 the Bulldogs were dominant on both sides of the ball, winning by an average score of 53-19. The ground-oriented offense ranked fifth in the nation in scoring (40.2 points per game).
Most important, Fresno may have found the right approach to playing its WAC nemesis. " Coach Hill said, 'We always talk down on Boise, saying we have the better athletes and the better program, but really they're right with us--maybe better than us,'" notes senior quarterback Paul Pinegar. "Now that we can finally admit that, we have a shot at beating them." --G.M.