Troy Calhoun is an angry man.  I cannot recall a head coach yelling at officials as often as Mr. Calhoun.  As is heard at the beach, “Chill, dude.  Have a fish taco.”

For most of the game, I thought Cole Fagan, the Air Force fullback, would beat us single-handedly.  Mr. Fagan had a superb game.  Thankfully, he did not beat us.

The Aztecs played lucky football.  Ryan Agnew was showing his lack of experience with one bad decision after another.  The stumble into the Aztec end-zone for a safety was pure high school freshmen football.  I was waiting for Jeff Horton to pull him and re-introduce Christian Chapman to the offensive line.  Yet, while 9/25 with an interception is indeed awful, Mr. Agnew, through the good graces of his receivers, averaged almost 24 yards per completion.  Of course, a blocked punt via Kaelin Himphill scooped by Tariq Thompson for a touchdown is almost required to win ugly.

Among other low lights was John Barron finally missing a field goal.  Rare.  2/12 on third down conversions.  84 yards total rushing.  13 first downs.  The offensive line struggling to block the Air Force front seven the entire first half.  The lightning strikes and delays, delays, delays.

Winning ugly is better than any brand of losing.

5-1/2-0.  Go, Aztecs.

 

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Ugly was pretty.  Who knew?

The first half featured the Aztec offense wondering what game was played?  Hockey?  Softball?  Tennis?  Why is the ball weirdly shaped?  We could not have looked and played with more incompetency.  Bad is a compliment.  Seemingly, false starts were the order of the day.  We had, I don’t know, 14, 26, 37 false starts.  Sure, I exaggerate, but my point of an absent offense is well taken.  You are welcome.

The good news:  We won.  Fred Trevillion caught the first pass thrown to him.  And did not have a single drop the entire game.  New horizons for Fred.  Chase Jasmin gained the most grueling 78 yards of his life.  He left the game limping (not good news).  His pinball bounce move in the fourth quarter set up Jordan Byrd’s 72 yard run.  Without Chase reversing course, a different outcome emerges.  Kobe Smith can catch punts.  Luq Barcoo is good.  Depth charts don’t mean much to Rocky.  Darren Hall, Connor Mitchell and Damon Moore enjoyed many minutes on the field.  Darren recorded a pick and Damon a sack.  Zidane Thomas had two carries (his first carry was during our third offensive possession of the game.  You think I don’t notice).  He is the fifth running back on the almighty chart.  Who needs starters?

God bless, John Barron.  Without him, we are an average football team hanging our hat on fourth and whatever.

In addition to Darren Hall’s interception, I applaud Tariq Thompson and Ronley Lakalaka for good hands.  Kyahva Tezino will provide nightmares for Brett Rypien the remainder of the season.  Kyahva delivered many a body shiver.  Brandon Heicklen was booming the ball.  He averaged 44.9 yards on 8 punts.  Well done.

I was surprised by Boise not attempting an onside kick after the missed extra point with 5:07 remaining.  Thank you, Boise coaching staff.

As for the numbers, the Aztec defense held Boise to an average of 2.9 yards per play.  Boise had 2 rushing yards at the end of the first quarter.  At the half, they had a total of 72 yards of offense.  The Broncos ballyhooed passing game stalled at 8.1 yards per catch and a slight 178 yards for the game.  If I told you before kickoff that the Aztecs would have 9 first downs and 267 yards of total offense, you would have asked, “Did we lose by two or three touchdowns?”

Thank you, Rocky.

4-1/1-0.

Go, Aztecs.

 

 

SDSU West: Final Thoughts

Posted: October 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

SDSU West developed in full sun light.  Soccer City tried desperately to avoid the ballot, at best wanting a special election, thankfully denied by the San Diego City Council.  Numerous private discussions with Mayor Faulconer ultimately proved a waste of time.

SDSU expanding campus into Mission Valley allows the school to accept thousands of more students and graduate thousands of more students.  These young men and women enter the California work force educated and making above average salaries that in turn make our state’s economy grow.  SDSU West generates long-term economic health for decades to come.  Additionally, the university’s expansion requires more professors, academic support staff and administration to join the current SDSU work force of 42,000, which strengthens the tax base of San Diego.

Speaking of tax, SDSU West relies on zero tax payer support.  None.  Nada.  Zip.

SDSU committed more than 50% (approximately 85 acres) of the site purchase to open space via the creation of a San Diego River park, biking/hiking trails, community parks and recreation fields.  Soccer City does not have a legal obligation to develop a river park. Options rather than written commitment dominate their ideas about the development of open space.  Options that lead to little green area development other than two benches under a tree.  Wiggle room carries the day for Soccer City.

FS Investors purposefully underestimated the daily traffic generated by their retail dominated development.  FS Investors claimed daily traffic at 71,500 trips while SANDAG estimated a minimum of 97,000 daily auto excursions through Mission Valley.  Miscalculating by 25,500 (or 36%) daily auto trips is pure misrepresentation.  I suppose such gross miscalculation is never seen regarding FS Investors long-term planning.  I cannot imagine a FS Investor board member shrugging his shoulders at a meeting discussing revenue when an error of 36% is discovered.

Remember the Chargers?  The good years and all that traffic.  Imagine that four-wheel nightmare on a daily basis.  I give you Soccer City on a daily basis.  SDSU West is projected to generate daily traffic trips of 60,440 or 38% fewer trips compared to Soccer City.  Retail lives 365 days.  Imagine the grind of traffic during the holidays and summer.  The heaviest traffic load SDSU West will create is the Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. rush to class.  Remember, SDSU hits the traffic snooze button during the summer and about six weeks from December to January.

Consider the inevitable slowing economy or recession.  740,00 square feet of Soccer City retail themed development crumbles into a hollow shell of empty businesses, vacant parking lots and the formerly employed of Soccer City looking for work elsewhere.  Horton Plaza serves as a fine wreck of an example of too much retail during economic contraction.  The mere idea that Soccer City is retail dependent gives cause for pause in a city loaded with technology companies and the associated well paid work force.  A sales associate at a jewelry store instead of a technological entrepreneur?  Since when?  Which is best for San Diego?

FS Investors does not have a Major League Soccer team at the ready to deposit in their stadium.  By the way, that stadium has a mandated construction date of 2025!  They push the stadium as a center piece of Soccer City.  Yet, they seem prepared to keep the tools in the shed for a number of years.  They must admit that expanding their soccer stadium to meet the needs of Aztec football is limited and most definitely unlikely.  FS Investors is a business.  What benefit do they receive by altering their soccer stadium to placate SDSU’s desire for increased seating during football games that brings no revenue to FS Investors?

Contrast the definitely-maybe Soccer City approach to stadium building to SDSU’s much spoken, much researched and much desired need for a stadium.  Do note, that university officials, while desirous of a football stadium, do not view the stadium as the center piece of SDSU West development.  The stadium is part of the proposal.  Not the proposal.  SDSU has generated and made public their vision of a football stadium.  SDSU has a football team ready to use the stadium.  SDSU does not need to search for a team to place inside the stadium as does Soccer City.

SDSU is a research based university.  Acquiring $134 million in research funding and grants during the 2017/18 academic year does not happen by accident.  No other Cal State campus comes close and one-third of UC campuses do not secure as much funding.  SDSU has accessed similar amounts of research funding dating back to 2015.  In recent years, SDSU’s Campaign raised $815 million for campus wide funding.  The school produces more than $457 million in state and local taxes.  Expanding SDSU into Mission Valley makes these dollars grow substantially.  As FS Investors will tell you, this is all about the money.

 

 

 

 

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Darren Hall’s (fr-rs) interception during overtime sealed the deal.  Well done, Mr. Hall.

Yet, I remain concerned about the Aztec back 5.  All too often, Eastern Michigan had receivers two and three steps behind our safeties.  Shades of the Stanford game.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Guess how many rushing yards EMU had at the half?  20.  That’s all.  20.  Overall, the Aztec defense was superb.  The “bend, but do not break” phrase fits well.

Chase Jasmin (so) had a fine game.  He’s better than I thought (at least this early in the season).  Chad Woolsey (sr) played a number of snaps at the fullback spot.  Joining Mr. Woolsey for playing time with the football was Elijah Kothe (fr) and Kobe Smith (fr).  Both caught a couple of passes for 16 and 27 yards respectively.  Looking forward, Fred Trevillion is the only receiver to leave at season’s end.  I believe we will finally enjoy both depth and talent at the wide receiver spot this year forward.

Ryan Agnew (jr) was serviceable.  Or less delicately, he did not stink, though the interception before halftime was ill conceived.  I remain impressed with his ability to tuck the football and run.

And, of course, I must not be remiss about John Barron’s night (granted, the one field goal he missed would have been the margin of victory at the end of four quarters).  Three makes including the ot shot not only created the win, but kept us in the game.  Mr. Barron is one of the best in the nation.

The three game homestand ends.  Not a single game was pretty, but 3-0 is no cause for complaint.  By the way, the middle of the field was mostly dirt by game’s end.  Time to break out the green paint.  Organic, of course.

3-1 into the bye week.  Not bad.

Go, Aztecs.

 

The Cardiac Kids are alive and well.  This year’s team is exhausting.  Couple our need to take the last two games to the wire with a start time of 7:30 p.m. (this game), and I’m whipped.

The offensive line was in fine shape.  Sure the occasional breakdown and holding call (we would have scored 35 points!  Keep your hands to yourself, big guys) flared.  When Zach Thomas went down during the second quarter causing Dominic Gudino to take the right guard spot, I’m thinking, “Well, let’s see if the o-line firms or collapses”.  Firm was the outcome.  Juwan Washington averaged 5.1 per carry, Chase Jasmin (definitely the #2 guy behind Juwan) averaged 5.9 per carry and Ryan Agnew (he has speed Christian Chapman can only dream of ) averaged 4 yards per carry.  No other proof is required as to the effectiveness of the big guys.  The second half was 21 plus minutes of pushing, shoving and being generally unpleasant with the Arizona State defense.  The Sun Devil defensive line and linebackers were torn and frayed.

Ryan Agnew’s 12/24/129 seems paltry, but his three consecutive completions to B.J. Busbee (welcome to the field of play) and Ethan Dedeaux (twice) was part of a 6/9/77 sequence which tied the game at 14.  Not bad for a first start.

John Barron from 54 had enough on the ball to have nailed a 65 yard attempt.  WOW!  17-14 will never be as impressive again.

Kyahva Tezino had a fantastic game.  He was everywhere less the stands selling popcorn.  I must admit concern about Kyree Woods.  He gave up too many completions.  Without improvement, I see either Luq Baarcoo, Jeff Clay or Darren Hall taking his spot.  ASU was picking on Mr. Woods for a reason.

The Aztec defense, less my concerns about Mr. Woods, gathered momentum during the second half.  ASU had the ball in the third and fourth quarters for a total of 8 minutes and 54 seconds.  At the half, the Sun Devils had 254 yards of total offense.  At the end of the third quarter they tacked on an additional and whopping 13 yards (yawn).  Well done, Aztecs.

Kudos to SDSU administration for the SDSU West presentation so kindly aired by CBS during the game.  I choose to believe this notice was especially effective coupled with a win over a ranked rigged 5 school.

In addition to B.J. Busbee (fr-rs), congrats to Jordan Byrd (fr), Shane Coleman (fr-rs) and Keshawn Banks (fr) on substantial play time and bright futures.

2-1.

Go, Aztecs.

 

Aztecs 28, Sac State 14

Posted: September 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

So much ugly, so little time.

We were lucky.  Sacramento State was looking like Eastern Illinois and Cal Poly SLO.  We were looking at 0-2.  Thankfully, we decided to play football the entire fourth quarter.

The offensive line disappointed consecutive games.  More sustained pushing and shoving is needed.  Juwan Washington rushing 36 times for an average of 4.3 yards per carry is an indication of an anemic o-line.

Christian Chapman is likely to miss the Arizona State game.  Ryan Agnew filled in admirably.  11/17/159 is a productive half of football.  Sure, the two picks kept Sac State in the game, but the Aztec defense allowed one score, rather than two, off the interceptions.

Ethan Dedeaux, Kahale Warring and Tim Wilson, Jr. made the most of their 6, 3 and 3 receptions.  211 of the evening’s total of 271 yards receiving were due to their talents.  Not bad and something to build on.

God bless John Barron.  Without his 52 and 32 yard scores, the first half is absolutely miserable.

Speaking of miserable, the Aztec defense held the Hornets to 1.7 yards per rush and a mere 234 yards of total offense.

Disaster averted.  Arizona State is next.  At least we are at home.

1-1.

Go, Aztecs.

 

Where to begin.

The first half had a pall.  Sure, 7-0 was pleasant, but the inability of the Aztec offensive line to block outside the tackles, especially to the left, was forcing Juwan Washington to run up the gut (with gusto), and nowhere else.

To speak of “to the left”, Tyler Roemer (left tackle) and Daishawn Dixon (left guard) were repeatedly unable to hold blocks during the first half.  Boo.

So, Jeff Horton calls up the gut plays . . . and we score.  Juwan ran for 20+, 10+, 40+, 6-ish, then a td.  Kudos to Dominic Guidino, Keith Ismael and the afore criticized Mr. Dixon for plowing openings galore for Mr. Washington.

Stanford goes three and out.  We follow with seeming momentum until Isaac Lessard is flagged for a chop block, thus we punt.  Boo.  However, during this sequence, Ethan Dedeaux (r-fr) catches a pass (in other receiving news, Fred Trevillion dropped his first opportunity, thus enhancing the legend of Hit Me On My Number And I Drop My First Pass Trevillion).  Mr. Dedeaux is one to watch  and offers Christian Chapman dreams of 60% completion rates.

Stanford scores two points via a hesitant safety by the officiating squad.  The head ref (forgive my lack of football referee knowledge) seemed to need a tutorial in signaling the safety call.  Perhaps because the call was crap.

Prior to this bit of neighbohood football officiating, Chase Jasmin spelled Mr. Washington, thus received his first dose of competitive, non-wipe out football.  He did so the next set of downs as well (and gathered a rushing first down).  Yes, this is Jeff Horton taking a look under the hood for future reference.  Howl all you want about why-was-Juwan-not-in-the-game.  I don’t care.  Many Aztec fans deplore this side of Mr. Horton, but I offer my inestimable support (incredibly valuable.  Much like your drunken friend cheering you on during a fight . . . that you are losing) in preparation for the MWC schedule.  You know, what really matters.

Then comes the Noble Hall moment.  Mr. Hall catches a batted football and decides to emulate Juwan Washington (mistake).  Rather than tucking the ball with both arms securely against his midsection, he assumes the spirit of Mr. Washington, and has the ball poked out of his arms into Stanford possession, which allows the halftime score of 9-7.  However, I disagree with Rocky that this moment was a game changer or momentum shift.

The first possession in the third quarter features Mr. Dedeaux catching another pass from Mr. Chapman.  Unreal.  Based off of last year.  And the year before.  However, we punt.

Stanford scores by and large because of consecutive penalties on the Aztec defensive backfield.  Boo.

Coach Horton then displays what could be an actual passing game.  The one where receivers catch passes from Christian Chapman.  I offer, Mr. Trevillion, Mr. Dedeaux, and Tim Wilson, Jr making consecutive catches.  Mr. Trevillion makes another catch.  John Barron hits a field goal.  16-10.  Not bad.

As Stanford works towards another score, I find comfort with the fact that Bryce “Heisman” Love has done nothing.  The Aztec defense has face stuffed him all game long.  When Stanford goes horizontal, they do so with nothing to show.  Yet, when they throw vertical, our defensive backfield is at risk.  The Stanford receivers stepped in front and made catches.  They out jumped us and made catches.  Thus, the Aztec defensive weakness.  But, better to have one weakness than many.

Remaining Aztec highlights of the third and fourth quarters feature another 40+ run by Mr. Washington and catches by Mr. Dedeaux and Mr. Wilson, plus a nine yard run by Chase Jasmin.  We had a chance to score during the Dedeaux-Wilson-Jasmin sequence, but our o-line gave up consecutive sacks of Mr. Chapman.  Again, boo.

As we move forward, the Aztec offensive line needs to ignore the media praise.  The big guys need to prove their collective worth.  Sustain your blocks and protect your quarterback.  The defensive secondary must stay stride for stride with taller wider receivers or face similar results via this 31-10 loss.  And, STOP WITH THE PENALTIES ALREADY!!!!.  Over 100 yards?  C’mon.  Parker Baldwin had a career game.  Juwan Washington is the real deal.  We seem to have the beginnings of a passing game.

Next is Sacramento State at home.  Fireworks await.  I want a shutout (okay, I’ll accept a single digit) of Hornet offense.  Pound and ground, then stretch the field.  May Fred Trevillion catch the first ball thrown to him (I may pass out.  Get it?).  Deliver good basic football without a field’s worth of penalties.

Aztecs, 0-1.

Eleven to go.

 

 

Fear not, a post-Penny letdown will not occur.

I will start with the offense.

Christian Chapman (sr) is the equivalent of a hard working spouse who never misses a day of work, remembers anniversaries and birthdays, enjoys a beer on a hot day and always wears sunscreen.  At times his average passing numbers frustrate me, but I counsel myself with the fact he is mostly mistake free and wins.  This year’s back-up is junior Ryan Agnew (a man waiting his turn if there ever was) or redshirt freshmen Mark Salazar.

Juwan Washington (jr) is a mix of Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny.  A-la Pumphrey, Juwan can do the excuse-me-pardon-me side step routine or he can bowl you over and leave foot prints on your chest.  His choice.  The #2 back is a contest between Chase Jasmin (so), Chance Bell (r-fr) and Kaegun Williams (r-fr).  However, I would not be surprised to see Jeff Horton take a look at freshmen Zidane Thomas and Jordan Byrd during the Sacramento State and Eastern Michigan games.  I find Mr. Thomas to be the most intriguing of all those standing behind Mr. Washington.

For the first time since Rocky Long’s Aztec coaching tenure, a duo of fullbacks may enjoy the smacking of opposing linebackers and defensive backs.  Isaac Lessard (jr) will enjoy most of the snaps.  Chad Woolsey (sr) moves to the fullback spot on behalf of depth, talent and options for Jeff Horton.

And now, the ever under achieving wide receivers.  Hunkie Cooper gets these guys to block like linemen, now is the long overdue moment to get them to CATCH A PASS!  Fred Trevillion (sr) is far too fond of dropping his first attempt.  When Fred did hold on to a Christian Chapman toss, he averaged an eye-popping 27 yards per catch.  Sadly, that happened a mere 12 times in 2017.  Tim Wilson (so) and Isiah Macklin (so) are likely partners opposite Mr. Trevillion.  If these three disappoint, coach Cooper has 13 other wide receivers to choose from in the never-ending attempt to CATCH A PASS!

Speaking of catching passes, thank goodness for tight ends.  Juniors Kahale Warring and Parker Houston form the best tight end duo in the MWC.  Much catching and running forward awaits.

The Aztec offensive line will be the best in conference and top-5 west of the Rockies (in 2019, I will move that claim to the Mississippi River).  Tyler Roemer (so), Daishawn Dixon (jr), Dominic Gudino (so), Keith Ismael (so) and Ryan Pope (sr) will pound, push, shove and smack from left to right.  I expect Nick Gerhard (jr), Kyle Spalding (so) and Zachary Thomas (so) to push for playing time.  Please note, Ryan Pope is the only senior in that sizable (pun intended) group.  Offensive line coach Mike Schmidt sleeps well.

Now to the other side.  Rocky’s side.

Noble Hall (sr) returns to nose guard.  He will be the anchor to the swirl of Damon Moore (sr), Chibu Onyeukwu (sr), Myles Cheatum (jr), Anthony Luke (sr) and Josh Robinett (so).  Look forward to the fury.

The linebacker spot is loaded as usual.  Leading tackler from 2017, Ronley Lakalaka (jr) will start with Kyahva Tezino (jr) and Andrew Aleki (so).  Substantial minutes await Troy Cassidy (jr), Kaelin Himphill (so) and Josh Bringuel (so).  One to watch is Seyddrick Lakalaka (r-fr), brother of Ronley.

The back five will be Parker Baldwin (sr and #2 tackler from 2017), Ron Smith (jr), Tariq Thompson (so and likely candidate to intercept more passes than Damontae Kazee), Jeff Clay (jr) and Kyree Woods (jr) or Trenton Thompson (so).  In the mix is Tayler Hawkins (so), Garett Binkley (jr), Will Stricklin II (so) and Jeff Chaney (jr).  This group is experienced and deep.

The kicking game belongs to the ultra-confident John Barron II (sr).  I do not look forward to his departure at the end of this season.

The punting efforts of Brandon Heicklen must improve in 2018.  Mr. Heicklen was as consistent as a distracted five-year old in the cereal aisle.

Doug Deakin and Richard Sanchez join the coaching staff.  These two gentlemen have the sizable task of keeping the special teams to the considerable level established by Bobby Hauck.  No small duty.

The usual and frustrating challenge of putting butts in the seats remains.  Granted, attendance has improved during Rocky’s tenure.  But, the creep towards averaging a minimum of 35,000 fans is vexing.

Wins will total a minimum of 8 or a maximum of 12.  Consecutive bowl game #9 awaits.

Go, Aztecs.

 

 

First place in the West division will be a season long contest between Fresno State and San Diego State.  Third goes to Nevada followed by UNLV, San Jose State and Hawaii.

The Mountain, seemingly forever, goes to Boise State.  Air Force finishes second.  My order of New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah State and Colorado State was one change after another until the order presented.

And now, the particulars.

West Division

Fresno State.  The Bulldogs surprised me last year.  I did not believe Jeff Tedford could/would create a quality football team given the shambles he was handed as a first year head coach.  But, he did.  Why the Bulldogs over the Aztecs?  Because Marcus McMaryion returns as the starting qb along with the their top 5 rushers (Mr. McMaryion was #4) from 2017 and for good measure 4 of their top 5 receivers (only losing the #2 receiver from last year.  By the way, when I use the word “receiver”, I am simply identifying the players with the most catches regardless of actual position).

Defensively the Bulldogs enjoy the return of the their top 7 tacklers from last year and 13 or their top 20.  Fresno allowed 321 (I round up from 320.6) yards per game last year.  This group of defenders know their defensive system and should improve even more in 2018.  Additionally, last year’s opposition average score of 18 points might be shaved by a point or two.

San Diego State.  While a returning starting qb, Christian Chapman is not Marcus McMaryion.  Mr. Chapman averaged a mere 144 passing yards per game (Mr. McMaryion was a considerable 51 yards per game better).  Granted, the Aztecs believe in pound and ground first, throw second.  Yet, improved passing yards will be required to beat the Bulldogs.  Juwan Washington will lead the rushing attack and has plenty of experience.  The wide receivers improved in 2017, yet still underachieved.  Only the #3 and #5 receivers from 2017 return.

On the other side, 13 of the top 20 tacklers return including 7 of the top 10.  The Aztec defense allowed 6 yards less per game than did the Bulldogs in 2017.  A smaller number at year’s end would not surprise.  Improving upon last year’s 22% of converted fourth downs by the opposition would be silly good.

University of Nevada.  As mentioned above, Ty Gangi is what separates the Wolf Pack from the remaining three teams in the West.  61% completion rate coupled with 275 yards passing per game for a 3-9/3-5 team is impressive.  As insurance, the #2 qb also returns for 2018.  The top 4 rushers return (Mr. Gangi was #3.  Lessening his exposure should be priority one for the Wolf Pack coaching staff in 2018).  They lose their #1 receiver from last year, but return the next 6 in line.

2017’s defense gave up 471 ypg.  Ouch.  But, if your team allowed third down conversions 44% of the time and fourth down conversions 55% of the time, 471 yards allowed would be expected.  With 14 of the top 20 tacklers including 7 of the top 10 returning, that ugly number should reduce significantly in 2018.

UNLV.  If the Wolf Pack stumbles, the Rebels will take the third spot in the West.  4 of their top 5 rushers return as do the #2, #3 and #4 receivers.  Armani Rogers returns as starting qb (Okay, fine.  He started 9 of 12 games.  75% is close to 100%).  Mr. Rogers is the definition of raw talent.  If he improves last year’s posting of 52% completion rate and paltry 147 passing ypg, the Rebels will be in the thick of every MWC game.  If not, Mr. Rogers may revert to starting 75% of the Rebels games.

Defensively, UNLV was as bad as their in-state brethren.  The second and fourth quarter scores had a cumulative difference of 57 points on behalf of the opposition.  Entering the locker room at halftime and end of game upside down must change in 2018.  14 of the top 20 tacklers return meaning the defensive coaching staff will suffer fewer I-can’t-believe-this moments in 2018.

San Jose State.  The good news: a lot of 2017 offense returns in 2018 meaning introducing fewer new ideas and more repition.  The bad news: a lot of 2017 offense returns.  These guys averaged 16 points a game last year.  Montel Aaron returns as the starting qb.  Much like Mr. Rogers at UNLV, Mr. Aaron has a wealth of potential.  Throwing more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (8) must stop.  His back up, Josh Love, features the same upside down result (7 picks to 5 scores).  While returning 4 of their top 5 rushers, the #2 rusher, Zamore Zigler, is listed as a cornerback for the 2018 season.  Additional concern lies with last year’s average of only 120 rushing yards per game.  The top 6 receivers return as well.  Hardly a barren scenario for 2018, but the offense needs to improve quickly.

The defense returns 13 of the top 20 tacklers.  These 13 were part of a group that gave up 499 ypg, allowed 85% of fourth down conversions and 325 points in the first two quarters of the season.  The Spartans average half time score for 2017 was 27-8.  Yes, the Spartans had the 8.  Entering the locker room down 19 points on a regular basis is bad for the defensive soul.

University of Hawaii.  I know.  You are thinking, how can Hawaii be worse than San Jose State?  Read the following, then you will know.

The only running back with any 2017 experience while wearing a University of Hawaii uniform is Freddie Holly III.  He ran for 30 yards on 9 carries.  He is the guy.  Hawaii’s returning qb who wore the same jersey as Mr. Holly is Cole McDonald.  In 2017, Mr. McDonald had 9 attempts and completed 5.  On behalf of Rainbow fans who are pointing at the entrance of senior transfer Larry Tuileta, he has yet to play in a division one football game.  Either he or Mr. McDonald is the guy.  As if this could not get worse, sadly I report that one (#2) of last year’s top 5 receivers returns.  The Rainbow offense averaged 23 points a game last year.  Expect a significant reduction in 2018.

To compound matters, Hawaii returns the fewest of their top 20 tacklers in the West:  12.  Cold comfort is their top 2 tacklers return.  The 2017 defense allowed 34 points a game, 210 rushing yards pg and 249 passing yards pg.  2018 may well be worse.

14 juco transfers are currently on the roster.  All sorely needed.  Surfing and eating fish tacos will be much more pleasant than watching 2018 Hawaii football.

Mountain Division

Boise State.  As obvious as ketchup on a hamburger and mustard on a hot dog, Boise finishes first in the Mountain.  Brett Rypien returns for his senior year.  Last year’s 348 attempts could easily approach 400 during 2018.  Boise returns their #3, #4 and #5 receivers.  Mr. Rypien will keep them busy.  The #1 (Alex Mattison who ran for 1,100+ yards) and #4 rushers return.  Plenty of balance and choice awaits this season.

Defensively the Broncos return an impressive 16 of their top 20 tacklers.  Learning curves, if any, will be extremely short.  An outstanding bunch.

Air Force.  When speaking of running the ball, I always go past the top 5 with the Falcons.  So many guys get to run the ball during the course of their season.  7 of their top 10 return.  Sure, two are qbs and two are wide receivers, but we speak of Air Force.  Running the ball is democratic.  Everybody gets a turn.  Arion Worthman returns as the #1 qb and offensive guide.  In case he wants to throw the ball down field, the top 3 receivers from last year return (they had a total of 39 catches between them).

They lose half of their top 10 tacklers from last year, but return 8 of the second 10.  The less time the Air Force defense spends on the field, the better.  Have a seat and watch the running game.

University of New Mexico.  The starting and #3 qb return.  Both threw more interceptions than touchdowns.  Tyrone Owens returns as the #1 rusher.  After Mr. Owens there is little proven ability in the form a running back rather than a qb who runs.  The good news is the #1, #3 and #4 receivers return and can they stretch the field averaging 13.6, 20.7 and 20.2 yards per catch respectively.

2017 featured one bad defensive first half after another.  If the UNM defense began the game in the third quarter, the win was theirs.  68% of points allowed by the Lobos defense were scored during the first half.  Astounding for the wrong reason.  13 of the top 20 tacklers return, though they lose 4 of their top 6.  If the defense plays four quarters rather than half a game, the Lobos may surprise.  If not, gonna be a long year.

Note:  Regarding Bob Davie, I do not comment on innocence or guilt when publishing my MWC preview.  I’m strictly here for the football.  Mr. Davie went 9-4 in 2016 and recovered from an awful 2015 start to finish 7-6.  I’m betting well timed luck strikes again.

University of Wyoming.  See what happens when Josh Allen leaves.  Stumble, plummet, go boom.  Or maybe not.  The #2 qb returns.  Nick Smith will get all the snaps he can handle this year.  He will throw to the top 1 – 7 returning receivers.  Lots of experienced hands await.  3 of the top 4 rushers return including the top two, Trey Woods and Kellen Overstreet, but both must greatly improve upon their respective poor average ypg of 3.5 and 4.4.

Wyoming’s defense allowed a respectable 335 ypg in 2017.  16 of the top 20 return.  But, given the lack of a running game, the 2018 Cowboys defense may spend far too much time on the field.  Defending what may be a one dimensional Cowboy offense bodes ill for the other Cowboys.

Utah State.  A notable mix of offense returns.  Jordan Love should receive the majority of, if not all the snaps.  If Mr. Love remains healthy, the Aggies may do better than advertised, but if Mr. Love is injured, no proven back up is present.  The #3 and #4 rushers return.  The #1, #2 and #4 receivers from 2017 return as well.

The defense welcomes back 18 of the top 20 tacklers.  Yet, the Aggies defense gave away 399 ypg last year.  If they can hold well against lesser or equal opponents, perhaps they give Air Force a run for second place.  If not, ending with an ill-timed losing streak (last year’s result) will disappoint, again.

Colorado State.  Nick Stevens moves on.  5 newbies are competing for his job.  Of those 5, not a one took a game snap while wearing a CSU jersey in 2017.  They lose 4 of their top 5 receivers, but return the #2, #3 and #4 running backs.  A less than perfect mix of offense.

Their top 4 tacklers return and 13 of the top 20 overall.  Much like Utah State, repeating last year’s offense allowed of 432 ypg is a non-starter in 2018.  Success will be out of reach.  Winning winnable games will be key to the Rams success or failure in 2018.  Given the state of the offense, this task belongs to the defense.

 

 

 

From the first snap, we were elsewhere.  Four (!) personal foul penalties in the first half was a gift of 60 yards to the Black Knights.  The last act of kindness we needed to offer a team that took “pound and ground” to a new level . . . against us.

Antonio Rosales getting tossed early in the game summed his entire year.  Mr. Rosales was not part of the offensive line for most of the year.  Why include him at the end of the year?  His start was badly timed and lent to the lack of focus during the first half.

Army’s offensive line was lower and faster than the Aztec defensive line.  The result was those mind-numbing drives that took 10+ minutes off the clock.  If you didn’t notice, Army had the ball 10+ minutes each quarter.  The Aztec offense rarely found the football to snap and throw (14 minutes to the second the entire game).  Less Rashaad Penny (save your money) and Juwan Washington, the offense never established any rhythm to speak of.

Kudos to Anthony Luke and his interception.  A rare bright spot.

Good luck to Bobby Hauck and Danny Gonzales.  New opportunity and well deserved, though I grimace at coaching changes.

10-3 finishes the year.  Not so bad, but I suffer from coulda, shoulda, woulda.  If I fold my arms and frown at 10-3, life is good for SDSU football.  Keep the frowns coming.