Archive for November, 2014

A butt kicking that should have been a butt kicking.  San Jose State uses three quarterbacks to the collective effort of 17/31 with one touchdown, but all for a paltry 133 yards.  The Aztec defense keeps the Spartan offense to less than 245 total yards.  In the words of Montgomery (Mr.) Burns, “Excellent.”

Let’s talk about the Aztecs.  7-5/5-3.  Not bad.  Candidly, not good, rather average, but given the difficulties at quarterback, Ruffin missing a handful of games and Fely never fully recovering from his injury, 2014 could have been a lot worse.

Speaking of difficulties at quarterback, Quinn Kaehler must have been feeling the shoulder ding as the game progressed.  Two series in the third quarter was reminiscent of Nick Bawden’s attempts to direct the offense earlier in the year.  Some games, Quinn has little to nothing, and yesterday was one of those games.  15 attempts and 4 completions is all that needs to be said. Thankfully, the o-line was absolutely dominating.  At times, the Spartan defensive line resembled a bad juco team.  The Aztec front five was getting pushes four to five yards deep seemingly every snap against the Spartans.  San Jose State was walking backwards in a rude fashion.  Pumphrey was fantastic.  Pump deserves all accolades given.  Any running back averaging 12.1 yards per carry is offering a game to remember.  The offense finishing the regular season with a 5/5 effort in the almighty red zone, was a job well done, especially with 4 of the 5 being touchdowns.  9 of 17 on third down was also of positive note.  Again, a sweep of the helmet to the Aztec o-line.

Now, we wait.  Bowl people are fickle.  I politely disagreed with the Poinsettia Bowl post-game exchange between Uncle Teddy and Kirk Morrison.  The gents were assuming a bit too much.  Sure, playing in the Poinsettia Bowl in a rematch with Navy would be welcome.  Candidly, playing any bowl game anywhere is welcome.  Keep those spears and fingers crossed.

A general review of the 2014 SDSU football season is in the works (you do not need to thank me).

The Sox spend a lot of money on two guys.  Never a good sign.  One enjoys too much food.  The other seems tender, nay, delicate.

The idea of trading Xander Bogaerts is idiotic and should be banished from Cherington’s skull.  The idea of trading Middlebrooks is the classic foregone conclusion.  Will’s inability to hit September pitching was his exit from Fenway, not the signing of Sandoval.  If Will could not hit the liberal sprinkling of AAA pitching auditioning during the final month of the year, Will simply cannot hit at the major league level.  For that reason, I begrudgingly accept the arrival of Panda at third.

Panda at third brings a somewhat marginal fielding percentage of .967.  Meh.  Do know that Mr. Sandoval has logged 63 games at first with a much more impressive .991 catch it and throw it percentage.  Which leads me to wonder if Napoli will not join the legion of trade rumor.  Pablo’s bat should achieve full bloom in Fenway.  He has a seven-year average of 36 doubles, 20/86 and .294/.346.  Granted, his former home field was spacious and deep, but as with most power righties, the possibilities of Fenway are forever intriguing.  Since 2009, Pablo has played in excess of 150 games three seasons (’09, ’10 and ’14), thus I want to believe that the Sox will receive their money’s worth regarding Pablo appearing at work.  Finally, Mr. Sandoval’s post-season production of .344/.389 and 6 dingers with 20 rbi should never be far from consideration.

Now for Hanley Ramirez.

Even though I opened with a pinch about his “health”, Hanley has an above average record of playing nine innings. From ’06 to ’09 he was north of 150 games.  In ’12 he played in 157.  Last year featured a return close to normal (128 games compared to 86 the year before and 92 in 2011, thus the reputation as to tenderness).  His error total for a shortstop is noteworthy.  The last four seasons have featured 14, 15, 13 and 16 kicks which is nowhere near disappointing for a starting middle infielder.  Then we consider his bat:  162 games (hold that thought) will yield 40 doubles, 25/87 and .300/.373.  Also include 35 steals.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Regarding all the rumor of positions to play, exiting Red Sox, arriving Red Sox and the lot, these two gentlemen create options galore for Ben (and Larry, who forever lurks in the shadow of decision).  Hanley played 90 games at third base in 2012.  As mentioned above, Pablo is familiar with first base (though I would rather Ryan Lavarnway become full-time familiar with first base in Fenway).  Is 2015 Ortiz’s final year?  If so, Pablo fills (pun intended) the dh spot rather nicely.  Xander should be allowed to continue his journey as the Red Sox starting shortstop.  His potential is considerable.  I’d rather witness Pablo wobble around third for the 2015 season and Hanley in left than endure the bad decision of Xander traded to whomever.  Other than Mookie Betts, the outfield is full of possibility.  Those who scoff at the idea of trading Victorino may want to reconsider the scoff.  Nava proves year after year, he can play, plus at a bargain.  Bradley, Junior finishing in a temperamental huff in Pawtucket gives Ben pause as to Jackie’s time in uniform.  Perhaps a change of scenery would serve Jackie well.  Mookie is the better ball player.  Cespedes seemed eager to speak of other options at the end of 2014.  If his transaction leads to quality starting pitching, transact as soon as possible.  Where does Allen Craig fit?  First?  Left?  Right?  For another team?  If most of these meanderings become truth, Henry Ramos (AA), Derrik Gibson (AA) and Peter Hissey (AA) are a couple of years away to fill any void 2016 forward.  Fear not for the outfield.

No excuses for the absence.  Wasn’t too busy, too distracted, too anything.  After the Boise game, meh took over.

Meh to not scoring touchdowns.  Meh to field goals instead of touchdowns.  Meh to watching the Broncos run wild in the fourth quarter.  The Aztecs should have been north of 40 on the score board, but our inability to find the end zone once inside the twenty was more than obvious.  Said shortcoming was painfully obvious.  With this loss, bowling looks highly unlikely.

As for Air Force, a little better.  Just a little.  Two more offensive touchdowns at a minimum.  30 points should have been 44 points.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda.  I don’t know how Rocky Long and Bob Toledo solve this inability to score six rather than settle for three (or nothing).  Bowl eligible, sure.  Bowl invite, I do not believe.  Even with a lopsided win over San Jose State this Saturday, bowling seems like whistling in the wind or dark or underwater.

The Aztec defense was superb.  Holding Air Force to 3.4 yards per rush, 329 yards in total offense, posting zeros three of four quarters and forcing 3 (!) fumbles and 1 interception was incredible and proof of a great team effort.  Calvin Munson was having a fantastic game long before the interception returned for a touchdown.  A couple of nice moves as well.  Perhaps Pump was paying attention.  Christian Heyward filled in nicely for Alex Barrett.  Between Barrett and Munson, we have the anchors for the 2015 Aztec defense.

One last thought on a bowl game:  In a perfect SDSU world the final weekend of MWC play yields a UNLV upset of Nevada (battle for the state of Nevada and all that, plus the Rebels would love to blow up what is left of the Wolfpack’s season), Hawaii stuns Fresno State (Norm Chow is out the door.  I’m no fan, but maybe the Hawaii players give him a good-bye gift of a win) and, to make us look as good as possible, Colorado State pounds the Cadets (a final line of 8-4/4-4 for Air Force might make a bowl committee think twice?  I’m reaching.  I know).  First and foremost, we beat the Spartans, hopefully, by an impressive margin, and the rest takes care of itself.  Never a dull moment with the Aztecs.

Jon Sanchez should do nothing else but run.  Run the entire week of practice.  Run, Jon, run.  An idiotic move on his part eliminates Aztec momentum at a key moment of developing separation, i.e., we were playing well.  Mr. Sanchez yanks on an opponent’s face mask which was equivalent to opening the door for the Vandals’ offense or, if you prefer, slamming the door on the Aztec offense, nay, team.

Yet, we win.

Ezell Ruffin catching not one, but two touchdown passes bodes well for the remainder of the year.  Mr. Ruffin finding the end zone must become common place if the Aztecs wish to receive a bowl invitation.  4 for 86 coupled with Eric Judge’s 4 for 107 was a welcome development.  The bulk of Quinn Kaehler’s 249 yards of completions are found in the hands of Mr. Ruffin and Mr. Judge.

Speaking on behalf of Mr. Kaehler, shame on the offensive line for allowing four sacks against a struggling opponent.

Returning to the other side of the ball, the Aztec defense was horrible the first half.  Then the ever-present “at the half” adjustment occurred.  The “adjusted” Aztec defense (I can only imagine the blistering speech by one Rocky Long in the locker room), less the idiocy of Mr. Sanchez, was a sight to behold.  Candidly, giving up 21 points to the Vandals was 14 too many.  26 first downs?  379 total yards?  The stuff of upset, but a closer look reveals a paltry 3.9 yards per rush.  The Idaho receivers dropped at least three passes that would have resulted in continuing drives.  Perhaps our defensive backs kicked up enough dust to interfere with Vandal vision.  We can only hope.

The cold, thin air of Boise awaits.  The Broncos were lucky to beat a bad UNM team.  Hopefully, the Aztecs arrive ready to play four quarters of football, not two.  Air Force and San Jose State arrive at the Q to finish the year.  2-1 worst case.  I’m expecting 3-0.

Consecutive zeros never deliver offensive charm, and last night was no exception.  Zero in the third.  Zero in the fourth.  Anemic, to be polite.  The Aztec offense could not put the ball in the end zone.  Thus, the game.

Kaehler was average:  21/36/1 (mandatory interception) for 189 yards.  A shoulder shrug.  Meh.  Chase Price was impressive.  Not only 58 yards on 8 rushes, but 4 catches as well.  Jake “Fifth Gear” Fely’s return was welcome, but no real effect in the end.  Kind of the same with Ruffin.  Good to have him on the field, but a loss is a loss.

As for the Wolfpack, Fajardo was contained and his passing was ineffective (10/24/1 for a mere 109 yards).  What the Aztec defense could not stop was Jackson (20/124) and Butler (15/103).  A lot of their yardage was up the middle.  Another sign of a bad night.

I must admit that a bowl game is looking doubtful.  Boise, Nevada and the surprising Rams of CSU have the nod at this point. We can only hope for a near perfect finish with the remaining games.  Here’s hoping.