Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

SDSU 17, Toledo 14

Posted: September 27, 2022 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

After Toledo scored their second touchdown to go up 14-10, I’m wondering, “When was the last time we started 1-3?”.

2-2 is pure relief.

How many football teams win games when forced to punt 9(!) times? Jack Browning is quickly becoming my favorite Aztec. 6 of his 9 boots landed inside the 20. Pure quality.

I accept the fact we cannot effectively throw the football. My hope that Braxton “Happy Feet” Burmeister would transfer his V. Tech numbers will not see the light of day. He flees far too soon. Alas, he ignores my pleas to stay in the pocket an additional couple of seconds. Jeff Hecklinski needs to emphasize the run. Ground and pound takes the forefront. Stop with the fantasy of Mr. Burmeister completing anywhere near 20 passes. The run game created many a successful year for Aztec football the last dozen, so reload and run, run, run. Jordan Byrd, Jaylon Armstead, Kenan Christon and Mr. Happy Feet collectively ran for 217 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. Numbers Aztec faithful can live with. Want to argue? Mr. Burmeister averaged 5 yards per completion. At half time, he had 11 yards passing. Sit down. No more talking. Shhh.

The defense was generally spectacular. 3 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery stuffed many a Toledo hope. Sure, the boys wilted in the fourth quarter, however on their behalf spending almost 32 minutes on the field is less than conducive to sustained perfection. Congrats to former qb, Jalen Mayden who registered 8 tackles while assuming the Aztec position in place of Patrick McMorris. Ta da.

The final SDSU drive with 2:51 remaining was testament to intestinal fortitude and holding one’s water. The two false start penalties with the ball on the 6 yard line was mind blowing. I was expecting the offensive line to line up backwards to enhance the challenge. Note: 11 Aztec penalties for 103 yards of gifts to Toledo is stupid and undisciplined.

I offer a new word: wugly. Winning ugly. You are welcome.

Go Aztecs.

2-2/0-0


Utah 35, SDSU 7

Posted: September 21, 2022 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Little to like. I was surprised Utah did not score north of 42 points. 21-0 at the half. Two more Ute touchdowns in the third with 7:30 on the game clock. All signs pointed to butt-ugly. Game’s end, we achieved simple ugly.

The Aztec offense is wheezing. Three games yields north of 20 points once. We are an asthmatic running with cramps on a long jog.

7 points is all we can scrape together in 60 minutes of football. Kyle Crum or no Kyle Crum, the result is wretched. 3.1 yards per offensive play is indeed offensive. Braxton Burmeister seems to have a talent for quick exit against P12 teams. Unfair? Perhaps. I would love to see a repeat performance sooner rather than later of his Idaho State result. Enough of this coulda, shoulda, woulda. Time to score lots of points. Lots would be better than 30 points.

The SDSU dbs were beaten like a slow moving midget in a buffet line. Giving up 4 passing tds is uninspired, confused football. Utah was 8/15 on third downs. 68 offensive plays averaged 6 yards a play for Utah which translates into far too many first downs.

Good news: Jack Browning had another fine game punting the football. 8 boots for 45.6 yards per. 3 inside the 20 yard line.

Go Aztecs

1-2/0-0

A game of monster runs and punting to perfection.

In no particular order, may I present Jordan Byrd with a 66 yard punt return and 53 yard run. Both for touchdowns. Braxton Burmeister sprinting 47 yards for a score as well as another rush of 16 yards. Jaylon Armstead rushing for 129 yards on 10 carries highlighted with a run for 61 yards and another for 23 yards. Cam Davis, a bruiser, granted not the size of Mr. Armstead, yet he runs well between the tackles, ran for 77 yards. Kenan Christon had a 34 yard dash. At game’s end the Aztecs tallied 380 yards rushing (8.8 ypc).

Jack Browning had five punts inside the 10 yard line (two were downed at the one yard line). 47.5 yard average made for a tough start again and again for Idaho State.

The SDSU defense was inconsistent. Bad numbers and good. Idaho State held the ball for 30+ minutes for 73 offensive plays. Yet, the Aztec defense was third down stingy (6 of 19) and pitched a shutout on fourth down (0 for 2). Two Bengal trips to the red zone yielded no points. However, SDSU gave up 338 total yards. I realize I’m bitching about allowing 7 points. I have standards.

Finally, congrats to Blake Martin as he made his Aztec debut (4 carries for 17 yards).

Go Aztecs.

1-1/0-0.

First game at Snapdragon. Hot as blazes. 100 degrees at kickoff . . . at 12:30 p.m. . . . in Mission Valley . . . on September third. Abnormal plus.

We were dropped off at the game by Francisco who knew the San Diego Mission Road shortcut. He saved us a minimum of forty minutes otherwise spent on the 15 waiting to access Friars Road. Should have been a good sign, alas, not so much. However, bless Francisco.

Walking up to Snapdragon from the east was a blaze of not only heat, but also a hundred plus shade pop-ups to the south providing shade for the many, many dedicated pre-game gatherings. Reminded me of a concert or Fourth of July at Pacific Beach. A dozen-plus food carts lined Victory Drive. Plenty of food choice ranging from tacos to Banh Mi. Entering Snapdragon was a breeze (perhaps not the best word to use given the heat). Approximately ten food vendors are found inside the stadium. All have at least two serving facilities. Waiting was minimal. The beer vendors (dominated by Alesmith) were overwhelmed given the thirst of tens of thousands Aztec fans. My first beverage (I was good and chose nothing higher than a 4.7 abv the entire game. Sainthood awaits. And a statue) lasted perhaps ten minutes. The most satisfying, hydrating moment of the day. Viewing the field from the north (overlooking the student section) was akin to the first time I walked into a baseball stadium and witnessed the green jewel of grass. Perfect.

After taking a few photos and short videos for family and friends, we veered west and were pleasantly surprised to enjoy the shade and breeze of the concourse. We made our way toward the Pier (our seats are nearby). The din of noise reminded me of pre-game Fenway or Wrigley. Excitement buzzed, conversation and laughter. More people wearing Aztec gear in one place than ever before.

Ten minutes before kickoff, we found our seats . . . in full sun, as was more than half of Snapdragon. The entire east side of Snapdragon was bathed in sun. Almost the entire crowd could be seen in the shade of the east concourse. The aforementioned student section, and also the SDSU band section, is the north side. Pure heat. The students survived the day until halftime. Most joined the spectacle of chasing shade. A California record must have been set for most people at a sporting event seeking any form, no matter how slight, of shade. The SDSU band members were rotated from their piece of the north section to shade to prevent the ill effect of wearing a heavy band uniform in 100 degree heat.

I realize the optics via the CBS national broadcast must have looked suspect at best. People, the day was miserably hot! Survival ruled! Chase shade! Optics be damned!

By 2:00 p.m., the sun shifted just enough to the south to allow our section shade from about halfway up. Appreciated relief.

Now, to the game. I noted a bevy of recruits on the Aztec sideline. I have never seen recruits on the SDSU sideline during the first home game of the year. Coach Hoke and staff are taking immediate advantage of showing off the new digs to impress possible future Aztec football players.

The crowd was loud from the moment the Aztecs ran out of the tunnel onto the field. Third downs received crowd noise galore. A sense of football knowledge was present.

What was absent was tackling. The number of missed tackles from Aztec defenders was two dozen plus (turns out Caden MacDonald claimed thirty-five misses). Wildcat running backs (especially) broke three and four attempts to bring them down. The Arizona offense was no-huddle the entire first half. The Aztec defense could not adjust.

The Aztec passing offense was elsewhere. Braxton Burmeister had a whopping ten attempts. Will Haskell had six. Jeff Hecklinski was devoted to the run (42 rushes) at the expense of offensive balance. I trust his Idaho State game plan will reel back the running game in favor of at least twenty-four throws downfield. Mr. Burmeister had a bad case of happy feet. He fled the pocket far too soon too often.

In the end, Arizona was the better team.

0-1/0-0.

Go Aztecs

Where to begin?

The Big-10 is the beginning, the end and whatever religious chant you want to invoke. No incense, though. Makes me sneeze.

Reading the agreement, $7.5 billion seems the minimum for B10 schools. I assume/forecast/know that the B10 will invite two more schools. Thus, the large end of the contract drifts towards $10 billion. Stop for a moment. Whether $7.5 billion or $10 billion, we speak of an astronomical, beyond the stratosphere, amount of money connected to college football. Couple theses billions of dollars with NIL money, and many a B10 athlete is sitting on a pile of money. Good for them.

The four participants: B10, FOX, CBS and NBC all deserve applause. The B10 commissioner, Kevin Warren, is a forward thinking man. Demanding a triple play of B10 games beginning at noon (Eastern Standard Time), followed by 3:30 p.m. and culminating at 7:00 p.m., or in Mr. Warren’s words “owning windows”, makes the contract groundbreaking. Of course, a new level of alcoholism will blossom as many a college football fan will revel in potentially 10.5 hours of football each and every Saturday from September through early December (bowl games are another conversation). A friend owns a beer store in suburban Philadelphia. He expects sales to increase and impress. Bottoms up and wallets empty.

NBC joining the parade was a surprise. Wed to Notre Dame football was/is smart, but far too confining in the media world of college football. Do know that N.D.’s agreement to accept a raise of $60 million per year was not an extension of the NBC contract, rather a butt pat for a job well done. Anticipate the Irish scheduling more and more B10 games at the expense of their pseudo relationship with the ACC. Please note, I speak solely through the voice of football.

CBS momentarily two-times the SEC (oh, the fury). CBS choosing not to renew their contract with the SEC was mind numbing, yet ultimately acceptable in light of their B10 inclusion. Imagine the indignation of the SEC nation at the reality of continuing Saturday 2022 and 2023 broadcast time with the floozy CBS! Concubine! Yet, SEC fans will tune into CBS until the bitter end.

FOX owns approximately 60% of the the B10 Network. Now they own so much more. FOX on Saturdays, with plenty of B10 games to offer, will receive the majority of love and cash from viewers, media and advertisers. L.A. kids wearing not only USC and UCLA gear will adorn themselves in Ohio State and Michigan shirts, hats, apps, shoes and whatever else is floated via algorithm. Southern California will become more and more confused.

Returning to the spurned SEC, fear not. The entity is angry and seeks revenge. The B10 better than southern football? Never! CBS dating, promising, sending flowers since 1996 suddenly turns away? Die, you bastard! ABC/ESPN (remember, one is the other) now pays $300 million annually to assuage the tender feelings of SEC football. SEC, baby, you remain beautiful, yet furious. A southern woman spurned feels no end of rage until she says otherwise. The ACC beware. The SEC will hunt your ranks for additions. Clemson and Florida State are the two most likely to receive invites. Perhaps others as well. Those of you who wield the shield of grant of rights agreement need to embrace “out of court settlement”. We speak of money, not pride, not tradition. The ACC may be as brittle as the Big-12 and PAC-12. Finally, will the SEC go bold and copy the B10’s coast to coast presence? The ACC is the portal to the east. How far west? Beyond Texas? Beyond Arizona?

The term “Power Five” must be removed from the lexicon of college football. The Two is now the standard. The B10 and SEC far outdistance the ACC, B12 and P12. Along with The Two, how about the Trailing Three?

The P12 is teetering on the edge of extinction. I know, who would have thought? Yet, USC and UCLA bolting for the B10 is the stuff of legend which will ultimately lead to the collapse of the P12. Candidly, I assumed Oregon would couple with USC, however, the southern California media market dwarfs the Eugene media landscape. Who knew? USC will compete in the B10. UCLA will join Rutgers and Indiana at the bottom. By the way, the UC system demanding an explanation from the Bruins regarding their P12 departure is truly stupid. Money, people. Money. Next objection? Speaking of cash and the P12, the annual pay received by USC and UCLA via the B10 is an amount only dreamed of by P12 schools.

The inevitable exit of Oregon and Washington implodes the P12. Both schools exit long before any other combination of P12 schools. To where, I know not. B10? B12? The ACC in a desperate move to remain on par with the B10 and SEC? I give marginal consideration to both Arizona schools joining the B12. Arizona has the academic aura, but not the football machine. Arizona State provides the opposite. I discount the conversation about Stanford and Cal (especially) receiving an invite from the B10. Utah and Colorado joining the B12 makes sense, yet both media markets are limited, but in the case of Utah, joining BYU in the B12 captures the vast TV market of the state of Utah. Yes, a smart ass comment. The two most likely what-the-hell-happened survivors are Oregon State and Washington State. Their respective egotistical nightmare scenario is nowhere else to go but the Mountain West. Trauma! Emergency response!

And now, what about San Diego State University? My beloved Aztecs. If George Kliavkoff, P12 commissioner and Larry Scott doppelganger of do nothing, but look busy, casts his net before further B12 expansion invites are delivered, the Aztecs join the P12. A big “if” given the B12’s Brett Yormark efforts to keep the conference within sight of the B10 and SEC. Is a Mr. Yormark issued invite possible? Yes. The Aztecs possess the last and final presence in the southern California college football media market. If the B12 wants a West Coast team or if the P12 wants to retain a kinda-sorta L.A. market, SDSU provides the opportunity. Snapdragon stadium offers a cherry on top to any conference considering the Aztecs. So does a 7-2 mark against P12 schools dating back to 2016. If both conferences pass on the Aztecs, life goes on in the Mountain West. With the Beavers and Cougars along for the ride.

2022 SDSU Football Preview

Posted: July 28, 2022 in Uncategorized
Tags:

2021’s 12-2/7-1 will be difficult to beat in 2022, yet provides the reason to play. After two years on the road (Carson, CA is 113 miles away from SDSU. Carson was not a home game no matter how Carson was spun), the Aztecs return home. Home is now Snapdragon Stadium. Brand new Snapdragon Stadium with a ribbon on top.

2022 Aztec Offense

Quarterbacks: Braxton Burmeister (142/255 including 14 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions) starts the season. Granted, the Aztecs do not have the greatest record pertaining to transfer quarterbacks, yet I hold hope that our Virginia Tech transfer’s 2021 total of 1,960 yards provides a proven path to enhance last year’s Aztec qb production. However, if Mr. Burmeister stumbles, Will Haskell takes the snaps. Mr. Haskell took 7 snaps in 2022, thus the flag of experience does not apply. Mr. Haskell provides a level of athleticism never before seen in an Aztec qb.

Running Backs: Initially Chance Bell (341 yards and a 4.7 yards per rush in 2021), Jordan Byrd (246/6.6) and Jaylon Armstead (he wet his feet with 24 rushing attempts for a beginner’s 3.1 ypr) provided an above average crew of running backs. However, the arrival of USC transfer Kenan Christon (5.7 ypr during his two years in L.A.) vastly improves the Aztec offensive backfield. Anticipate the ever creative offensive coordinator, Jeff Hecklinski, to occasionally employ the quick feet of Cam Davis and Martin Blake especially as the season progresses.

Wide Receivers: The acrobatic Jesse Matthews (57 catches for 642 yards averaging 11.3 yards per catch) will be coupled with last year’s surprise development, Tyrell Shavers (18/213/11.8). T.J. Sullivan, Mekhi Shaw, Brionne Penny and Darius De Los Reyes rotate through the third receiver spot in search of extended playing time. This group should benefit from Mr. Burmeister’s ability to throw a football 40 yards downfield which was a rare, rare sight the last two seasons.

Tight Ends: The University of Washington transfer Mark Redman joins Jay Rudolph during two tight end sets. If these two catch the football, they become part of Mr. Burmeister’s options. If not, prepare to block, block, block.

Offensive Line: A tad thin. A couple of injuries could spell trouble. Left guard, Kyle Trombley, sustained an injury during spring practice. He is not due to return until midway through the season. The Oklahoma State transfer Cade Bennett moves into Mr. Trombley’s spot. Left tackle Jonathon Harrison brings limited experience. The strength of the line is center Alama Uluave. Right guard and tackle features Ross Ulugalu and the formidable Brandon Crenshaw-Dixon. My “a tad thin” is found in the five remaining offensive linemen waiting behind the above mentioned starters. Offensive line coach Mike Goff will have plenty of coaching to deliver during the month of August. A worst case basis is solved by the tight ends impersonating tackles.

2022 Aztec Defense

Defensive Line: A definite strength in 2022. Keshawn Banks (defensive end), Jonah Tavai (defensive tackle), his brother and Hawaii transfer Justus Tavai (dt), Nassir Sims (dt), Daniel Okpoko (de), Garrett Fountain (de) and Wyatt Draeger (de) provide experience and smarts. Tulsa transfer Deven Lamp (de) hopes to return from injury as the season begins.

Linebackers: While not as deep as the defensive line, the core group enjoys similar experience and smarts. Caden McDonald (49 tackles), Michael Shawcroft (55 tkls) and Seyddick Lakalaka (44 tkls) are the starting three. Washington transfer, Cooper McDonald (yep, brother of Caden) registered 26 tackles in 12 games in 2022. Plenty of room to grow as an Aztec. Vai Kaho and Brady Anderson will add to their games played experience this season.

The Back Five: Defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix is true to the spirit of Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 arrangement, thus my reluctance to label the defensive backfield with traditional positions. A combination of Noah Avinger (15 tkls), Dallas Branch (20 tkls), Noah Tumblin (32 tkls) and Dezjhon Malone will be the first faces viewed by opposing wide receivers. Waiting behind them will be Patrick McMorris (90 tkls) as the deep guy along with Cedarious Barfield (39 tkls) and CJ Baskerville (39 tkls). Davaughn Celestine, Kyron White and Isaiah McElvane will increase last year’s time on the field.

2022 Special Teams

Punter: Jack Browning needs to average 40 yards a boot.

Kicker: Jack Browning (does special teams coordinator Doug Deakin possess a budding Matt Araiza? Most likely, no) needs to convert 100% of his extra-point attempts and 3 of every 4 field goal attempts, and all will be well enough. If Mr. Browning struggles as kicker, anticipate David Delgado in his place.

2022 Aztec Schedule

Snapdragon opens with Arizona on September 3rd. Aztecs win

Snapdragon game two is Idaho State. Aztecs win.

The first road game is Utah. Aztecs first loss.

Return to Snapdragon against Toledo: Aztecs win.

Mountain West play begins at Boise: Aztecs win.

The first MW home game is against Hawaii: Aztecs win.

After an off week, SDSU travels to Nevada: Aztecs win.

At Fresno State follows. Aztecs lose.

UNLV rolls into town: Aztecs win.

San Jose State arrives. Aztecs win (as long as Nick Nash is kept under wraps).

Albuquerque in mid-November often features whack-a-doodle weather. Aztecs win.

The final MW game and home game of 2022 is Air Force. Aztecs win.

An appearance in the 2022 MWC championship is not guaranteed. A bowl game is guaranteed.

Go Aztecs.

Lots of change in the Mountain West as it enters the 2022 season. This season is the final year of the two division format before returning to a single division, aka, the way things used to be. Next, new head coaches at Colorado State, Fresno State (sort of) Hawaii and Nevada. Finally, stadium construction continues at San Jose State, begins in Hawaii and concludes at San Diego State.

Mountain (for the final season. At this point you should be teary eyed).

Utah State

Offense: Logan Bonner (QB) returns. 36 tds coupled with 3,628 passing yards saying “I’m back” does a lot of good for a football team. Calvin Perry (the Aggie’s 2021 #1 rusher) and the number three (John Gentry) return. Mr. Perry had a decent 4.5 yards per rush, however Mr. Gentry featured an anemic average of 3.6 ypr. USU’s 2021 average rush per game was only 3.6 yards. Boo. But, with Mr. Bonner returning, the run game, once again, will not be a point of emphasis in 2022. Mr. Bonner’s top five wide receivers return featuring yards per catch averages ranging from 16.7 to 10.3. Unlike other programs, these five are actually wide receivers and tight ends. No running backs allowed. The Aggies will stretch the field again in 2022.

Defense: Last year, the Aggie defense was just shy of allowing 400 yards of total offense per game (392.7). Expect the same this year as they return sixteen of their top twenty tacklers. Justin Rice (ILB) will lead the defense, though not equaling last year’s grand total of 124 tackles would indicate an improved USU defense.

Last Thought: Head coach Blake Anderson becomes a man much sought and leaves USU for a lot of money somewhere else at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Boise State

Offense: Hank Bachmeier returns. He had an impressive completion rate of 62.8% and threw a mere 8 interceptions in 401 attempts. The Broncos leading rusher from 2021 returns. George Holani earned an above average 4.8 ypr while playing in only nine games last year. His 2022 partner is likely Tyler Crowe (5.1 ypr). Only one (Stefan Cobbs, 12. 4 ypc) of the top five receivers returns for Boise. Mr. Cobbs, Davis Koetter (11.4 ypc) and Billy Bowens (11.7 ypc) will receive the majority of Mr. Bachmeier’s attempts.

Defense: Boise State’s defense continues the admirable practice of “bend, but don’t break”. 2021 opponents enjoyed greater yards per rush (4.0 to 3.1) and yards per catch (13.2 to 12.3) than Boise’s offense, but the Broncos defense was extra stingy giving away red zone touchdowns only 45% of the time (17/38). Not bad. They return eighteen of their top twenty tacklers, thus much like Utah State, expect more of the bending, but not breaking in 2022.

Last Thought: If Boise suffers a poorly timed stumble in MW play, Air Force steps in front.

Air Force

Offense: Guess what? Air Force’s 2021 starting qb returns. I detect a trend. Haaziq Daniels completed 50% of his 104 passes while registering as the Falcons #2 rusher. Speaking of rushing, three of the top five rushers return including Mr. Daniels. The most intriguing is Deandre Hughes and his 8.2 ypr. Wow! The returning receiving corps (in name only) features the number three, four and five receivers from last year. By the way, these three gentlemen (Dane Kinamon, David Cormier and Kyle Patterson) combined for a total of twenty-five catches. Impressive paucity.

Defense: Sixteen of the top twenty return which includes six of the top seven. Air Force’s defense was the only MW team that allowed fewer than 300 yards of total offense per game. They clicked in at 296.7. During the first quarter of 2021, the defense allowed a total of 27 points. Getting off to a fast start against the Falcons is difficult.

Last Thought: Please refer to the Boise State Last Thought.

Wyoming

Offense: I know, both 2021 qbs transferred. Head coach Craig Bohl broke new recruiting ground by advertising for a quarterback. Funny and desperate. I’m betting the former Utah State qb Andrew Peasley takes advantage of his status as the only d-1 quarterback on the team with experience. Wait until I address the Colorado State and New Mexico qb rooms, and you will understand why I choose Wyoming for the fourth spot in the Mountain. Titus Swen (5.9 ypr) will lead the ground game in 2022. Dawaiian McNeely (6.6 ypr) is his likely roommate in the backfield while Trey Smith (6.6 ypr) serves as the type of back up who should be a starter. Mr. Peasley will throw to a serviceable group of returning receivers in Joshua Cobbs (9.8 ypc), Ayden Eberhardt 14.2 ypc), Treyton Welch (8.6 ypc) and Parker Christensen (9.8 ypc). Less Mr. Eberhardt, the ypc averages from 2021 were pathetic.

Defense: Only nine of the top twenty return. Last year’s opponents average of 370.4 yards per game likely increases.

Last Thought: If head coach Craig Bohl retains his job at season’s end, send a card. Nearing the end of his second contract with a 45-50 record is bad voodoo.

Colorado State

Offense: Guess how many qbs the Rams list on their 2022 roster? C’mon. Six? Nope. Five? You wish. Four? Bingo. Guess how many are true freshmen? Two. Guess how many are redshirt freshmen? Two. Mmm hmm. Now you know why I chose Wyoming fourth. David Bailey (3.8 ypr) and A’Jon Vivens (3.6 ypr) highlight a sickly running game. Avery Morrow (one of eleven transfers from Nevada) adds another body to run the ball. The good news for whomever emerges as the starting qb is three of the top four 2021 receivers return. I trust Dante Wright (12.5 ypc), Ty McCullouch (17.3 ypc), Gary Williams (13.7 ypc) and E.J. Scott 12.9 ypc) will grow accustomed to waiting and waiting on a decent downfield toss. The Nevada transfer, Tory Horton (12.7 ypc), will discover freshmen and redshirt freshmen quarterbacks are not Carson Strong.

Defense: Lots of opportunity for Rams’ defenders in 2022. Why? Only eleven of the top twenty return. CSU needs defensive help. Last year, CSU’s defense gave up a sizable 216 points during the second and third quarters. Much as Wyoming, last year’s 377.3 average total yards per game for CSU opponents increases in 2022.

Last Thought: I know much excitement generated over the arrival of the former Nevada head coach, Jay Norvell, as well as his eleven transfers. However, Mr. Norvell’s task of working with inexperienced quarterbacks, also defined as not many quarterbacks, lends to not much of a 2022 season.

New Mexico

Offense: Ugh. The Lobos averaged 12.2 points per game in 2021. They averaged less than 10 yards per catch. The offense scored a meager 15 tds the entire season. Painful and inept. Three qbs with 2021 experience return. Similar to owning three pair of pants, yet all three have holes. C.J. Montes and Connor Genal struggled to complete passes (30% and 35.7% respectively). Isaiah Chavez posted a 70.8% completion rate . . . in twenty-four attempts. I need more proof. The Kansas transfer, Miles Kendrick, enters the mix as well. He wins the starting job. As for the running game, a mix of qbs and wide recievers less Peyton Dixon (a real running back, 4.1 ypr) indicate a rough start. The #1 (Luke Wysong, 9,3 ypc) ) and #4 (Andrew Erickson, 10.6 ypc) receivers from 2021 hope to catch a pass or two each game.

Defense: Fifteen of the top twenty return. Defensive coordinator, Rocky Long, enters year three, thus this year’s crew has a grasp and understanding of his 3-3-5 defense. They improve in 2022, but not near enough to compensate for a near non-existent offense.

Last Thought: Head coach Danny Gonzales gets this year and next year to show improvement at a difficult place to win. Good luck.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

West (re the above sentiment attached to the Mountain).

Fresno State

Offense: Jake Haener (67% completion, 4,096 yards passing and 33 td with only 9 interceptions) returns. Even though the Bulldogs lose Ronnie Rivers, who cares? Mr. Haener will shred many a defensive backfield during the 2022 season. Jordan Mims (5.6 ypr) is a capable replacement for Mr. Rivers, thus the Fresno running game continues to impact. Three of the five top receivers return. Zane Pope (18.8 ypc), Josh Kelly (14.9 ypc) and Jalen Cropper (10.5 ypc) will enjoy productive years courtesy of Mr. Haener.

Defense: A potential area of concern. Only eleven of the top twenty tacklers return. Last year’s 348.2 yards per game increases in 2022, but with the Bulldog’s explosive offense a less than stellar defense is not much of a concern.

Last Thought: I abide by my “the new-head-coach-has-a-sub-.500-first-year” rule, except in the case of Jeff Tedford. His second round as the head Bulldog results in lots of wins in 2022. Fresno State is in capable hands.

San Diego State

Offense: The Virginia Tech transfer Braxton Burmeister takes the quarterback reins for 2022. Mr. Burmeister posted passable (no pun intended) numbers at VT in 2021. The Aztecs hope, at a minimum, he posts the same numbers this year. The running game received a boost with the arrival of USC transfer Kenan Christon (5.7 ypr during his USC days). Chance Bell (4.7 ypr) andJordan Byrd (6.6 ypr) make a solid three back rotation. Only two of the top five receivers return, but one of those two is the 2021 #1 wide receiver, Jesse Matthews (11.2 ypc).

Defense: The defense returns twelve of the top twenty. However, transfers Cooper MacDonald (Washington), Justus Tavai (Hawaii) and Deven Lamp (Tulsa) have plenty of game experience, and lessen any impact of non-returning starters. Besides, in my not so humble opinion, the Aztecs’ defensive coordinator, Kurt Mattix, is the best in conference.

Last Thought: If Mr. Burmeister struggles, expect Will Haskell to take his spot.

San Jose State

Offense: The ever effective Nick Nash wins the qb competition over the Hawaii transfer Chad Cordeiro (and his 17 interceptions in 2021). Last year’s offense was surprisingly anemic (20 points per game). Losing their top rusher and receiver creates substantial challenges for the 2022 Spartan offense. Mr. Nash was the second leading rusher (5.7 ypr) in 2021, but I’m not a fan of starting qbs rushing often in the course of a game (Mr. Nash had 68 rushing attempts which was second on the team in 2021). Injury becomes far more likely. Three of the top four receivers return. Isaiah Hamilton (13.4 ypc), Jermaine Braddock (14.4 ypc) and Charles Ross (12.2 ypc) along with Nevada transfers Elijah Cooks (12 ypc) and Justin Lockhart (13.4 ypc) create a talented and deep group of receivers in 2022.

Defense: The Spartan defense returns seven of their top eight tacklers and fifteen of twenty overall. Last year the SJSU defense allowed a meager 3.5 ypr and only 9 rushing tds. However, they allowed an appalling 61% of fourth down conversions which contributed to a disappointing finish in 2021.

Last Thought: The Spartan offense has the potential to be the dominate passing force in the West in 2022 if Nick Nash can get the ball downfield. We shall see.

UNLV

Offense: Head coach Marcus Arroyo finally lands a worthy qb in Tennessee transfer Harrison Bailey. The starting competition will be between Mr. Bailey and last year’s starter Cameron Friel (62% completion, but 11 interceptions negated many a 2021 drive). The 2022 running game takes a step backward with the return of only one running back who enjoyed any notable play time; Chad Magyar (3.5 ypr). Two of the top three receivers return: Zyell Griffin (and his eye popping 22.8 ypc) and Kyle Williams (15.1 ypc).

Defense: Thirteen of the top twenty return. The Rebel defense must improve. Opponents scored a total of 114 points in the second quarter, 103 points in the third quarter and 90 points in the fourth quarter during 2021. 409.4 yards per game was given up as well. If the defense does not improve, expect very few wins in 2022.


Last Thought: If the Rebels do not at least double last year’s win total of two, Mr. Arroyo lands on the 2023 hot seat.

Hawaii

Offense: Brayden Schager (60.8%) has the inside lead in the 2022 qb competition. Washington State transfer Cammon Cooper will push Mr. Schager if he struggles. One of the top four rushers returns. Dedrick Parson (5.3 ypr) is looking for a partner. Receivers Zion Bowens (21.4 ypc) and Jonah Panoke (11.2 ypc) are also looking for company.

Defense: Ugh. Four of the top twenty return. Gonna be a long year in the state of Hawaii in 2022. Last year’s 31.4 points allowed per game increases this season. Winning will be a tall order.

Last Thought: Todd Graham and his dysfunctional coaching is no longer an issue. But, rebuilding from that disaster will take a few years.

Nevada

Offense: No more Carson Strong. Nate Cox, starting qb in waiting, is in limbo due to his, um, interaction with Nevada law enforcement. No other quarterback on the 2022 roster has any division one game experience. The good news is the return of Toa Taua (4.9 ypr) and to a lesser extent Devonte Lee (a mere 3.9 ypr). The top five 2021 receivers are gone. Jamaal Bell (8.5 ypc) is the only returning receiver who logged any substantial time on the field in 2021. Arizona transfer B.J. Casteel (9.9 ypc) offers game experience, but much more is needed.

Defense: Five of the top twenty return. Oh, no. Last year’s opponents held the ball almost three minutes more than the Wolf Pack offense. Almost three minutes balloons to five plus minutes by season’s end in 2022 as will the 406.7 yards per game on behalf of Wolfpack opponents.

Last Thought: New head coach Ken Wilson and staff will have a long, frustrating, difficult, when-will-this-season-end in 2022.

USC and UCLA are Big-10 bound. Of the two schools, UCLA was a surprise. I would have bet on the duo of USC and Oregon. Alas, the Ducks remain in the P12 . . . for now.

The Trojans and Bruins bring the sizable Los Angeles television market (the B10 now owns the television markets of Chicago, D.C./Baltimore and L.A.). Both schools travel well, aka, alumni. I must address the mavens who criticize the travel factor afflicting the two CA schools: No. No, travel is not and will not be a factor in team performance. Two facts to always hold dear while addressing the addition of these two schools: Football and money. If the USC men’s soccer team needs to spend a week in the state of Michigan, who cares? Another positive for the B10 is the proximity of the two CA schools. A brief (okay, no auto/truck/bus ride in L.A. is brief), rather nearby destination is beneficial for any visiting B10 school while playing volleyball, soccer, baseball, softball and all the rest.

The money factor needs a separate paragraph. The most recent revenue numbers for the two conferences states $768 million for the B10 and $533 million for the P12. A difference of a whopping $235 million on behalf of the B10. That number divided by the 2022 B10 lineup equates to approximately $16.78 million per school as compared their P12 brethren who will never, ever see the aforementioned almost $17 million. A lot of extra coin will flow into the USC and UCLA athletic departments. The B10 media rights expire in 2023. Negotiations are underway. A combination of ESPN, FOX and CBS likely creates an offer near the $1 billion mark for the next contract. College football makes a ton of money.

The overall effect on the two conferences is substantial and heavily favors the B10. The invitation of the two CA schools is purely positive for the B10. Not so much for the P12. First, the P12 media contracts expire in 2024. Negotiations are surely underway. And those conversations have, um, paused and changed. ESPN and FOX are not about to offer the same cash with the loss of the southern California TV market. Would you pay the same amount of money for a double cheese burger as opposed to a baloney sandwich on white bread? Additionally, the P12 will feel the need to fill the void created by USC and UCLA. Ask the Big 12 if wishing away reality works well. Adapt or suffer more membership losses. Who the P12 adds is less than ideal from their view. I will not refer to the normal slew of Group of 5 candidates mostly from the Mountain West. I do entertain the thought of further P12 rupturing. My focus is on Oregon (they will not be pleased to witness two schools whose respective football programs pale in comparison to the Ducks make a great deal more money than the Ducks portion of the watered down P12 renewal offer) and Washington. Perhaps a partnership forms and phone calls are made to the Big 12. Another potential response is a handful of the more successful (football) P12 schools offer to form a new conference with all the B12 Texas schools and Oklahoma State. If a fusion of the P12 and B12 is created, the schools who stand a good chance to receive no offer of inclusion include Oregon State, Washington State, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia. In the case of the Mountaineers sometimes geography matters.

The departure of UT and Oklahoma from the B12 followed by yesterday’s good-bye/hello from USC and UCLA guarantees the Power 5 landscape will continue to experience monumental change as media rights expire and are then renegotiated. Fun times in the money house.

Red Sox Rant, 2022

Posted: April 4, 2022 in Uncategorized

Let us begin with pitching. Both kinds.

Until Chris Sale is healthy, the starting staff remains meh. Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck form a passable #2 through #4 rotation. Rich Hill (only a matter of time until finger blisters form) and James Paxton (dl forever . . . seemingly) are better than last year’s reality of Garrett Richards and Martin Perez which is akin to comparing a car with engine problems to a car with no brakes. The bullpen did not experience the complete make over I demanded. Chaim Bloom and Brian O’Halloran are deaf to my complaints. Why are the following wearing Boston uniforms rather than Worcester: Phillips Valdez (a guaranteed hit by pitch ever other appearance), Matt Barnes (he is past his prime and pointed in a downward direction), Josh Taylor (23 walks in 47.2 innings. Go ahead. Defend him, if you dare), Ryan Brasier (I’m waiting for a neck injury given his strange in-between pitches posture) and Austin Davis (lifetime 5.50 era and a whip of 1.49 creates extreme discomfort as he approaches the mound). Be gone! I find the beginning of hope with Garrett Whitlock closing, Hirokazu Sawamura, Matt Strahm and Jake Diekman making appearances the sixth inning forward.

Signing Trevor Story closes a defensive gap in the infield (Christian Arroyo injures himself making coffee) and also offers another considerable bat. Bobby Dalbec is a 30/90 guy in the making. Rafael Devers will continue to entertain with his bat, occasional wild ass throws from third and death battle with the wad of tobacco he tosses around his mouth. Xander Bogarts must complete the season with game 1 to game 162 offensive production. He fades the second half. Jackie Bradley, Jr returns. Yay. He settles right field and keeps Kiki Hernandez in the line up. Alex Verdugo is the next great left fielder in Fenway. J.D. Martinez, the human rain delay in-between pitches, starts fast or becomes late-July trade bait. Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki are the best catching combination in the A.L. A word on Jarren Duran: He needs to go away. I have no patience for Jacoby Ellsbury, II.

Minor bats to watch: Yairo Munoz, Triston Casas, Nick Yorke, Stephen Scott, Devlin Granberg, Tyreque Reed, Pedro Castellanos, Cameron Canon, Tyler Dearden and Gilberto Jimenez. Yep, I named my top ten.

Minor starting pitching to watch: Kutter Crawford, Connor Seabold, Victor Santos, Brandon Walter and Aldo Ramirez.

Minor relievers to watch: Zach Kelly, Durbin Feltman, Joan Martinez, Casey Cobb and Brendan Nail.

Finally, if Alex Erro continues with his 41% toss rate, Christian Vazquez is bound for “old man” help-the-kid status.

Go, Sox.

Reviewing a 12-2 finish coupled with a national ranking of 25th should not be cause for improvement, yet here I am.

Thank you to Lucas Johnson for salvaging the quarterback position. Jordon Brookshire was a train wreck of inconsistency. Mr. Johnson, certainly no role model of consistency himself, at least delivered during key moments of 2021. Their collective total of 16 passing tds averaged 1.1 per game. Yawn. However, all average things must end. These two will journey well elsewhere. Brady Hoke hopes to land a transfer quarterback to enhance competition between Jalen Mayden and Will Haskell for 2022. I trust Brady will seek a qb with pass first in mind. Pass way down field.

Speaking of elsewhere, time for Jeff Hecklinski to release the entire 2021 backfield. Greg Bell (overrated. He failed to deliver the anticipated yards), Chance Bell, Jordan Byrd and Kaegun Williams will be better served in a town not called San Diego. Their individual and collective result was minimal. I long for the days of a break away running back. Turn the corner and whoosh. Maybe someday.

The 2021 Aztec defense was laudable. The boys gave up a manageable 324 yards per game. An impressive 7 rushing tds were allowed along with a meager 2.7 yards per rush. 32% of third down conversions for opponents provides a measure for 2022 defensive success. So does 41 sacks for 258 yards. May Kurt Mattix remain the SDSU defensive coordinator for a long time.

Via the transfer portal, I hope for a mix of o-line, d-line, running back(s) and a quarterback to land on the roster as we pedal towards spring ball. Six to eight experienced players would be swell.