Nevada 17, SDSU 13

Posted: November 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

Taking a week off is bad voodoo for a team that cannot score points.  Bad becomes worse.  Unattractive becomes butt ugly.

Boo.

The Aztec offense cannot score points.  Granted, 309 total yards is a snore fest, but compared to Nevada’s 226 total yards, this game should have been an old fashioned ass kicking rather than I-can’t-believe-we-lost-to-these-guys loss.

How many d-1 teams lose when they give up 17 points?  We do.  How about allowing the Wolfpack 29 total rushing yards (1.0 per carry)?  We lose.  They were 2/12 on third downs.  They had 12 first downs the entire game.  Yet, we lose.

Our offense is awful.  Our running game was elsewhere.  Perhaps face down in Mission Beach.  10 Aztecs had at least one catch.  Nobody scored.  Ryan Agnew was 18/35/196, which equates to not quite 11 yards per catch.  Barely a first down.  At this point, I’m advocating for the appearance of Carson Baker.  He cannot be more ineffective than Mr. Agnew.  Hell, I can’t be more ineffective than Mr. Agnew.

And now for the stupidity.  Trenton Thompson is tossed in the second quarter for targeting.  Great.  Our collective inability to control our emotion results in 9 flags for 79 backward yards.  Lovely.

Without Matt Araiza and Brandon Heicklen, we have zero impact for the entire game.

All I can say is, find the end zone.  Dare to cross the goal line with football in hand.  Amazing results will follow.

7-2/4-2.

Go, Aztecs.

 

SDSU 20, UNLV 17

Posted: October 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

Luck does not begin to describe what happened.  The game was screaming overtime as the Aztecs stumbled through the fourth quarter.  The UNLV kicker bonks a gimme that would have tied the game.  Whew.

Our offense is anemic, sickly and without effect.  13 points scored the entire game.  If Tariq Thompson does not block the UNLV punt in the end zone, we lose.  Boo.  Ryan Agnew’s line of 14/23/185 had all the impact of a fart on the beach.  Strangely, Juwan Washington, Kaegun Williams and Chase Jasmin all averaged at least 5 yards per carry.  But, much like a fart on the beach . . .

Brandon Heicklen was, again, masterful.  6 punts averaged 43.7 yards.  4 of the 6 were inside the 20.  3 of those were downed at the 10 (twice) and 6.  Perhaps I have stumbled across our offensive strategy:  Run time off the clock, nail a good punt and assume the Aztec defense keeps the opponent out of the end zone.

Is Jeff Horton the reason why we don’t score?  Is the offensive line the reason?  How about one dumb ass penalty after another during what should have been a drive into the end zone?  You tell me.  The defense cannot continue this season of magic without contribution from the offense.  Winning by 7 or less will run out of gas unless the Aztec offense can put points on the board each and every quarter.  7 here, 10 there, 13 to surprise, another 7 just for fun.  A guy can dream, can’t he?

7-1/4-1 with an AP rating of 25.

Go, Aztecs.

 

 

SDSU 27, SJSU 17

Posted: October 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

Kaegun Williams returning the opening kick off for a touchdown was a nice start.  Been awhile.  A few cuts here and there, and, as Uncle Teddy exclaimed in the radio booth, “He’s gone!”  Amen.

The running game returned.  Or at least flashed life now and then.  Juwan Washington averaged 4.7 per carry, Chase Jasmin 11.7 (sure, the 50 yard run is the definition of inflated stats) and Chance Bell 5.6.  Game’s end the Aztec running game left with 260 yards.  As a point of proof, ten (!) running plays highlighted the drive that put Juwan Washington in the end zone for a 20-10 lead in the third quarter.  Not bad.

Ryan Agnew was serviceable:  13/20 without a td or interception.  All for 88 yards, though.  Not exactly stretching the defense.

The pisser was our insistence on shooting ourselves in the foot, hand and butt the entire night via dumb ass penalties.  The grand total was 12 flags for 85 yards, thus negating Mr. Agnew’s completed tosses.  The false starts and unsportsman like conduct calls must end.  Pay attention to the snap count and don’t take out your bad day on the opposition.  Thank you.

Brandon Heicklen was his usual stud self.  Just another night at the office featuring 5 punts for an average of 45.8 yards.  His two fourth quarter punts rolled to the Spartan 1 yard line.  Touche!

The Aztec offense posted the strange stat of 40:22 with the ball, yet scored only 27 points. I wonder if a 35+ point game is within our reach or are we cursed with sub 30 point games?  Do tell.

Oh, yeah.  The Aztec defense was brilliant, yet again.  Yawn.  The Spartan offense checked out with only 272 yards of offense.  Their much ballyhooed passing game was snuffed at 218 total yards.  2 of their 15 first downs were via Aztec penalties.

6-1/3-1.  Pick a bowl, any bowl.

Go, Aztecs.

 

SDSU 26, Wyoming 22

Posted: October 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

This group drives me crazy.  Let’s wait until the second half to play offensive football.  Why score touchdowns during the first half?  Who cares?  Matt Araiza can hit a couple of field goals.  We hang around.  Chat on the sidelines.  Who is doing what on Sunday?  Half time hits, then we decide to score touchdowns (and Mr. Araiza actually missed a field goal attempt).  If we can score 20 points in the second half, couldn’t we score 20 points in the first half?

Ryan Agnew threw the ball 32 times.  Wow.  Shades of Ryan Lindley.  21 completions for barely 200 yards (209).  Yes, I’m complaining about the lack of verticalness via the passing game.  Frankly, the Aztec running game wasn’t much better.  Juwan Washington on the field makes a big difference, but by no means have we established a buffo running game during the first six games of the season.  However, I must admit that the shot gun/spread is generating just enough offense to color the Aztecs as a balanced offensive football team.  A little of this.  A little of that.  We win.  By the way, Issac Lessard caught a pass.  Fullback production on the comeback trail?

Luq Barcoo’s pick with 49 seconds remaining sealed the win.  If Wyoming completes that pass . . .  oy vey.  We probably lose.  Which is indicative of a competitive game.  Keeping Wyoming to 266 total yards is just another day for the Aztec defense.  Pulling out the win against a good Cowboy squad is proof that SDSU is on a collision course with Hawaii and Fresno State to win the West.

Brandon Heicklen had a great game.  4 boots averaged 49 yards.  Thank you.

Finally, a tip of the hat to the loud crowd at SDCC stadium.  Enthusiasm plus.

5-1/2-1.

Go, Aztecs.

 

 

Aztecs 24, Rams 10

Posted: October 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

31-10 with a bit more effort in the final minute.  But, why complain?

Ryan Agnew was a model of passing proficiency:  16/20 with 3 touchdowns and zero picks.  Not bad, yet somehow more is needed.  Why Jeff Horton leaned to any attempt to balance the pass with the non-effective run was a head scratcher.  The running game took a step backwards.  Between Juwan Washington, Chance Bell, Chase Jasmin and Jordan Byrd, the Aztecs tallied a sad 120 yards.  Boo.  The offensive line’s inability to push back the CSU d-line was the equivalent of slap and yell.  I expect the call of “Back up, you brute” to be quickly adopted as strategy.  Note; our horizontal to the line of scrimmage plays are as effective as no waves at the beach.  Please stop.  Vertical is the preferred method.  You know, north and south.

Juwan Washington, ankle sprain or no, brings spark and speed sorely needed, yet he too could use a bit more help from the front five.

Kobe Smith was the game.  7/101 and 2 of Mr. Agnew’s 3 touchdowns deserves a trip to Hodad’s.  Well done.  The burger as well.

The defense was, once again, superb.  I lost track of how many 3-0 the CSU offense was handed.  Luq Barcoo’s 3 consecutive interceptions is the stuff of lore and legend.  Silly good.  The Aztec defense had 4 sacks and 41 yards in tackles for loss.  The goal line stand at the end of the second quarter was testament to why practice makes perfect.  Also, limiting the Rams to 3/14 on third downs was the proverbial cherry on top of a fine night.  By the way, when was the last time a MWC team averaged 0.7 yards per rush?

4-1/1-1.

Go, Aztecs.

Utah State 23, SDSU 17

Posted: September 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

Meh or coulda, shoulda, woulda.

Choose one of the above.

The Aztec defense allowed one (1) Aggie offensive touchdown.  If we subtract the Aggie defensive touchdown (a bouncing ball interception), we win, 17-16.  We were in the game  until the end.  So much for the good news.

Utah State’s linebackers and secondary made plays.  What seemed to be a 5 yard plus run for Chance Bell, Jordan Byrd and/or Chase Jasmin crumbled to a 2 yard gain the entire night.  Rare was the run forward that eluded the Aggie defense.

Ryan Agnew’s propensity to scramble bit him last night.  Especially the final play during which he almost stumbled into the end zone for a safety.  Mr. Agnew lost 60 (!) yards all by his lonesome due to his ineffective scrambles, zig-zags and running sideways.  This behavior must be modified.  He must be frustrating to watch in a buffet line.  Yet, on his behalf, he threw for 2 touchdowns in the fourth quarter that kept SDSU’s chances alive.

The penalty bug returned as SDSU received 7 flags for 61 yards.  That and a grand total of 83 yards lost is a quarter plus worth of offensive yardage.

A week off after 4 games is well received.  Heal, rest and have a long chat with Mr. Agnew about throwing the football forward rather than running with the football in the wrong direction.

I choose meh.

3-1/0-1.

Go, Aztecs.

 

When I bitch and moan during a 31 – 10 win, my Aztec football life is a tad too good.  Yet, I bitched and moaned during our prolonged penalty party (Dominic Gudino called for holding twice?  C’mon, Dom) that stalled a second quarter drive into a Matt Araiza field goal rather than a touchdown.  My burden is great.

Speaking of Mr. Araiza, six kick offs equaled six touchbacks.  Not bad.  I want to witness the spectacle of the SDSU kick off team veering immediately to the sidelines after one of Mr. Araiza’s kicks.  Who needs coverage when a touchback is guaranteed?  All that sprinting for nothing.

The running game returned with a flourish.  Does this imply our o-line is becoming more effective?  I choose yes.  Jordan Byrd seems to be the heir apparent.  22/134 and 2 touchdowns speaks well.  Chance Bell made the best of his playing time with a line of 17/121 and 1 touchdown.  Ryan Agnew was a passing qb during the first half, then morphed into last year’s version of Captain Handoff during the second half.  I believe I’m bitching and moaning, again.  However, Mr. Agnew was without an interception and did throw for a touchdown to Daniel Bellinger.  Mr. Agnew did not suffer a sack courtesy of the Aztec o-line.

The Aztec defense was sack city against the Aggies.  6 tosses to the ground were suffered by the NMSU qb.  Many bruises.  Keshawn Banks led the way with 2 and enjoyed the company of Cameron Thomas (1.5), Myles Cheatum (1.5) and Andrew Aleki (1).  The Aztec defense created a total of 46 lost yards on behalf of the Aggie offense.  A whole lot of backwards goes a long way.  The Aztec rush defense allowed 30 yards the entire game.  The pass defense, not so much.  299 yards was far too much to a team that specializes in short slant routes.  I find inadequate Luq Barcoo’s and Kyahva Tezino’s interceptions.  I want roses, not daises.  Again, I’m bitching and moaning.

The offense has scored a total of 60 points during the first three games.  To beat Utah State we will need at least half that number.

3-0.  Go, Aztecs.

What a game, what a  game.

First, those of you whining about Jeff Horton and his play calling need to wander away into oncoming traffic.

The Aztec offense, courtesy of Ryan Agnew, performed well enough.  The offensive line looked absolutely anemic during the first possession, then blocked, pushed and shoved to a reasonable degree of effectiveness throughout the remainder of the game.

Mr. Agnew scrambled as needed.  He’s not half bad.  Ask the UCLA defense as they bit on Ryan beginning to run only to watch him pull back and throw his sole touchdown pass of the afternoon to make the score 17-7.  23/31/293 is a notable effort.  Kobe Smith and Jesse Matthews caught 12 of Mr. Agnew’s 23 completions for a total of 190 yards.  Do we have a receiving duo of impact?

Speaking of impact, or lack of, the running game was absent.  Jordan Byrd started to no real effect.  Chase Jasmin scored the first touchdown on a well blocked 3 yard run and did nothing else.  Chance Bell had a couple of carries for not much.  Juwan was mostly missing in action less the interesting sequence with 25 seconds left in the first half featuring Jeff Horton seemingly willing to take a couple of knees and end the half, when Rocky walked over to him and, um, encouraged Mr. Horton to run actual plays to gain yardage (a thrilling concept), which resulted in Mr. Washington rushing for 15 yards in two carries (his best consecutive rushes of the afternoon).  I will say that I was puzzled by Mr. Horton’s repeated (and repeated) attempts at running the ball into the middle of the UCLA defense for no gain or minor losses.  However, this shortcoming was easily overcome by the arm of Mr. Agnew.

The d-line continues to impress.  At worst they held the UCLA o-line in place which allowed Aztec linebackers into the backfield (as proof consider our 3 sacks of the UCLA quarterback).  At best, they applied plenty of pressure forcing throws on the run or brining down UCLA running backs behind or near the line of scrimmage.  The 2 fourth down stuffs at 4:04 and 2:31 in the fourth quarter by the SDSU defense was pure fight and desire.  At game’s end, allowing 62 yards rushing and 199 yards passing is to be applauded.  Finally, the UCLA offense had the ball for only 21:44 the entire game thanks to the Aztec defense.

Matt Araiza was 3/4 in field goal attempts.  He hit from 43, 31 and 25.   His 6 kickoffs featured 5 touchbacks with the other not returned.  That’s right.  6 kicks, no yardage.  A worthy defensive weapon this year and the next three.  I can’t wait to watch him kick in Fort Collins this October.  He may send one into the stands on the fly.

2-0.

Go, Aztecs.

 

Aztecs 6, Weber State 0

Posted: September 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

A punting clinic unfolded during the game.  A sure sign of a lack of offense.  As exciting as working outside in triple digit heat.  Oh, yeah.

Brandon Heicklen’s foot was surely sore at game’s end.  9 punts.  Thankfully he averaged an impressive 49 yards per leg swing.  3 of the 9 landed inside the 20 and 4 were waved for fair catches.  Weber State had lousy staring points the entire game.

The Aztec defense held Weber State to 5 first downs.  As in 5 first downs the entire game.  That is a tough trick.  Among other highlights:  Weber State averaged only 1.8 yards per rush, accumulated 35 yards rushing at game’s end, averaged less than 6 yards per completed pass and overall generated a pathetic 154 yards of total offense.  The Aztec defense was above and beyond.  And, Tariq Thomspon’s interception with less than 3 minutes remaining sealed the deal and prevented a likely 7-6 loss.

Evidently, shot gun/spread offenses are really difficult.  I mean calculus difficult.  The Aztec offense sputtered and stalled all night.  The offensive line was physically present, but mentally at the beach watching the sunset.  SDSU offensive highlights were limited to:  8 different Aztecs caught at least one pass from Ryan Agnew.  Jordan Byrd ran for 51 yards on 5 carries and Chance Bell had 18 yards on 3 carries.  Both these guys deserve more time with the ball in their arms.  Yes, Ryan Agnew can scramble.  Not my favorite moment(s), but at least he falls forward more often than not.  However, 238 total yards is an absolute mess of an offense.  Get well, fast.

Finally, Matt Araiza’s introduction was the game difference.  Two chances (I’m not counting the misfire snap that sailed away from Brandon Heicklen), both good, both desperately needed.  More to follow, I’m sure, but hopefully accompanied by lots of extra points.

1-0.  Go, Aztecs.

 

The memory of last year’s miserable finish must be the starting point for 2019.  Beginning last season with 7-2 start only to watch the misery of a 0-4 finish, including the pitiful bowl loss to Ohio, serves as the primary motivator for the 2019 Aztecs.  Revenge, gnashing of teeth and general thirst to hurt must precede this Aztec football campaign.

Granted, most everything can improve, but I’m hard pressed to envision the Aztec defense allowing less than last year’s 3.0 yards per rush.  Impressive plus.  Also, while 7-6 was impermissible disappointing and foul, four of the six losses were by 4 (Nevada), 3 (UNLV), 9, (Fresno State) and 1 (Hawaii), thus one could make the argument that 2018’s offense was generally one score away from a win.  I could also claim that the Aztec offense scoring a woeful 30 touchdowns leaves much to improve.  And I do.  Averaging at least four offensive touchdowns is primary for this year’s success.

As usual, the position analysis unfolds in all well thought glory.

Quarterback:  Ryan Agnew’s (sr) job to lose.  I’m not sold on Ryan (I’m sure he is deeply concerned).  Last year he completed barely half his pass attempts (51.6%) and 115 completions created only 1,651 yards.  I grant sharing the position with the injured Christian Chapman was less than ideal, but at times Mr. Agnew seemed to spend too much mental time watching the clock featuring the return of Mr. Chapman.  This year’s introduction of the spread offense should allow for a great deal of creativity on behalf of Mr. Agnew.  He is a qb who can run vertically.  Such talent creates options for offensive coordinator Jeff Horton on behalf of Mr. Agnew.  The back up is juco transfer Jordon Brookshire (jr) followed by Mark Salazar (soph) and/or Carson Baker (rs-fr).

Running back:  Once Juwan Washington (sr) went down, so did the 2018 Aztec running game.  I was hoping Nebraska transfer Greg Bell (jr) would provide a true 1-2 punch that Aztec fans expect.  Alas, Mr. Bell is injured and unlikely to play in 2019.  Mr. Washington, injured or not, had a good year in 2018 (5.0 yards per carry, 10 tds, 111 yards per game).  The problem was the mere 9 games he played.  Expect a healthy Juwan Washington to rush for a minimum of 1,500 yards in 2019.  If, please God, no, he is not healthy, last year’s challenge of maintaining an impactful run game rears its ugly head, yet again.  I found Chase Jasmin (jr) to be a significant step down from Mr. Washington.  Mr. Jasmin runs a tad too slashy (new word) for me.  I’m hopeful that both Chance Bell (soph) and Jordan Byrd (soph) receive more opportunities to run the ball in 2019.

Fullback:  This position was little used, less the standard blocking, last year.  Isaac Lessard (sr), last year’s starting fullback is injured.  Either Grady Vazquez (jr) or Connor McBride (so) do most of the initial pushing and shoving on behalf of Mr. Washington.  However, in light of the spread offense, I expect the fullback position to be less of an influence compared to past years.

Wide Receiver:  Five guys played last year.  So, I’m proposing a mix of those five to significantly expand the number of catches from last year.  Ethan Dedeaux (so), Kobe Smith (so), Elijah Kothe (so), Bj Busbee (so . . . those of you paying attention have discovered a theme) and Isiah Macklin (jr . . . theme no more).  These gentlemen can catch the ball and run vertically.  What more do I want?  I remain a fan of wide receivers coach Hunkie Cooper.  Why?  Because Mr. Cooper demands, at the very least, the ability to block downfield to create those extra yards for their fellow Aztec with the ball.  This year, his receiving corps blossoms with the spread offense.

Tight End:  Parker Houston becomes “the man”.  He will block less in the 2019 offensive scheme, thus his 16 catches from 2018 should increase enough to notice.  Daniel Bellinger is second on the depth chart.  Alex Wilson (so) and Nic McTear (rs-fr) should be in the mix as the season progresses.  Much like the wide receivers, this is a position that will benefit from the offensive change.

O line:  A disappointment in 2018.  I labeled last year’s squad to be the pre-season best in the MWC.  Wrong.  Tyler Roemer’s departure during the 2018 season was the cherry on top of a bad blocking performance by the Aztec o-line.  Injury did not help, but injury is part of the annual puzzle that must be solved.  As currently listed, the experience is found on the left side.  Left tackle Kyle Spalding (jr), Daishawn Dixon (sr) at left guard and #2 man behind Mr. Spalding, Zachary Thomas (jr), supply brains as well as brawn.  Keith Ismael (jr) and Dominic Gudino (jr) are listed 1 and 2 at the center spot, though Mr. Gudino is far too talented not to start at another line position.  Is this a sign that I should be content with depth?  The massive William Dunkle (6′ 5″, 355, rs-fr) is currently listed as the starting right guard.  The University or Oregon transfer Jacob Capra (jr) most likely earns the right tackle spot.  I’m expecting a return to blocking prominence in 2019.

Defense

D line:  Sophomores, Connor Mitchell and Keshawn Banks, are the defensive ends.  These two received significant playing time in 2018.  Good gets better in 2019.  Myles Cheatum (sr) will be the nose guard.  Juco transfers, Jalil Lecky (jr) and Jonah Tavai (jr), add size and experience (something more than high school football experience) given the relative youth and inexperience of non-starter defensive linemen.  The return of former head coach Brady Hoke as defensive line coach guarantees a much improved Aztec front three during 2019.

Linebacker:  A point of strength, again.  Yawn.  Kyahva Tezino (sr) and his 127 tackles from 2018 centers the defense.  A mix of Caden McDonald (so), Andrew Aleki (jr), Troy Cassidy (sr), Kaelin Himphill (jr), Seyddrick Lakalaka (so) and Will Stricklin (jr) will raise hell, chaos and confusion to the opponents detriment.  A deep and talented group.

D backfield:  These guys are as good as the linebackers.  Luq Barcoo (sr) returns from injury.  Trenton Thompson (jr) and the other Thompson (Tariq, also a junior), Dwyane Johnson (jr) and Darren Hall (so) complete the starting five.  Kyree Woods (sr) may not start, but he will see quality time on the field.

Kicking, punting and special teams:  John Barron is gone.  Boo.  I will miss John.  He was good.  Matt Araiza (rs-fr) is the field goal kicker for now.  If he misses from inside 30 yards, Rocky will sit Mr. Araiza and instead institute two-point plays after touchdowns until further notice.  Do not miss the easy/makable kicks, Mr. Araiza.  Brandon Heicklen (sr) improved his punting game as the 2018 season progressed.  Turner Bernard (jr) handles the long snaps.  Rocky and Jeff will deploy the usual mix of running backs and wide receivers to catch kick offs and punts.  Key word is catch.  Fumbles are death.

The Schedule

Weber State (8/31) is no slouch.  Aztec faithful are painfully aware of our history with FCS schools.  Weber State made the second round of last year’s FCS playoffs.  If the Aztecs overlook these guys, we are off to an official bad start.

@ UCLA.  A game we can win, Pasadena or no Pasadena.  The Bruins play Oklahoma the following Saturday.  I’m anticipating a dose of only-a-MWC-school in light of the Sooners impending arrival.

@ New Mexico State.  Aztecs win.  The Aggies were 3-9 last year and 2-3 at home.

Utah State.  As stated in my ever dazzling MWC football review, Utah State is built around Jordan Love.  A substantial amount of 2018 talent on both sides of the ball is gone.  However, USU has a bye week to prepare game strategy prior to their Aztec date.  SDSU’s defense must set the tone early and often.

@CSU followed by a SDSU bye week. The good news is traveling to Fort Collins in early October makes crazy weather less of a factor.  With a week to prepare, the Aztecs dominate on both sides of the football.

Wyoming at home is a win.

@ San Jose State is a win.

@ UNLV.  Ditto.

Nevada arrives after our second bye week.  College football mavens think more of the Wolf Pack’s ability than I do.  Win.

Fresno State, much like Utah State, loses enough talent to notice.  Yet, by the date of this game (11/16/19) that challenge has been met or not.  The final possession determines the winner.

@ Hawaii.  I’m not looking forward to this game.  Hawaii is vastly improved.  The team with the most mistakes/turnovers/penalties loses.

BYU.  Why we agreed to play these guys is inexplicable.  A divorced parent suddenly agrees to date the former spouse?  The guy you fired wants to be your best friend?  Though, play we must.  This game, while impactful, has no bearing on our MWC standing.  If the Aztecs at this point in the 2019 season have delivered beyond and above expectations, the game becomes significant regarding bowl game designation.  As a fan with decades of BYU/SDSU games in my skull, I long to always beat these guys.  By one or a lot.  Kick BYU butt.

Best case scenario:  10-2.  Worst case scenario:  8-4.  Consecutive bowl game number 10 awaits.

Go, Aztecs.