SDSU 27, Boise State 16

Posted: November 27, 2021 in Uncategorized
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A great game for a double digit win (the most recent was October 9 vs. New Mexico, 31-7).

The first half smelled and resembled the Fresno State game. The second half was another story.

I admit I rolled my eyes when Jordon Brookshire entered the game. On behalf of Jeff Hecklinski and Brady Hoke, they didn’t have much of a choice given Lucas Johnson’s poor first quarter and worse second quarter. Mr. Brookshire provided immediate hope with a 30 yard completion to Jesse “I Catch Most Anything” Matthews. The 29 yard td pass to Mr. Matthews quickly followed. I’m walking toward the light of briefly becoming a Jordon Brookshire fan. Briefly.

Jordon’s final passing numbers (11/15/192 and a td) and rushing numbers (9/46 and a td) emerged from dream becoming reality. He and Lucas combined for 20 completions for an average of 14.5 yards per completion. A true partnership.

Plays of note not immediately resulting in a touchdown: Our second possession featuring Daniel Bellinger in motion, then stopping under center to take the snap on third and one to plunge forward for a first down. Next up, our failed attempt at a fake punt with Garret Fountain taking the long snap for a whopping 4 yards. The Brookshire pass to Bellinger in the third quarter on fourth and one resulting in Mr. Bellinger rumbling to the eleven yard line which did set up Greg Bell’s go-ahead td. A few snaps later, Caden McDonald tips Hank Bachmeier’s pass into the hands of Patrick McMorris for his second interception.

Speaking of Mr. Bachmeier, the Aztec defense smacked him about and limited his day to 21/40/222 including Mr. McMorris’ two picks (Dallas Branch sealed the game with an interception of Jack Sears with less than a minute remaining). When Mr. Sears entered the game I had visions of Nick Nash in 2020 and Justin Rogers last week. Thankfully, he performed under duress given the fantastic three man Aztec rush.

Jonah Tavai was absolutely dominant with 3 sacks resulting in 18 lost Boise yards.

Jesse Matthews same as Mr. Tavai, but on the other side: 9/133 and a touchdown.

A few more numbers to consider: The Aztec defense shutout Boise in the third and fourth quarters, and held Boise to a total of 319 yards. The Aztec offense tallied 408 yards for the morning (the start time of 9:00 a.m. was insane). The Aztec defense set a record (I’m guessing) for most offsides in a game. Brady rolled the dice three times on fourth down and succeeded twice. We held the ball for 34:17 to Boise’s 25:43. Most helpful.

Utah State at Carson next Saturday for the MWC championship.

7-1/11-1. Quite the surprise.

Go Aztecs.

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UNLV’s defense was to be admired. They played well and then some. They stuffed our run game for a total of 98 yards (if Jordan Byrd does not break off his second half sprint, our run game would have been less than 50 yards). The Rebel defense kept the Aztec offense to 290 total yards. Yet, we won. At times I wonder how and why.

Speaking of defense, the Aztecs gave up a whopping 394 yards of UNLV offense. We made Justin Rogers look like Nick Nash II. Mr. Rogers tormented us coming off the bench. He finished with a line of 15/21/305 and threw two touchdowns. Charles Williams did not torment us. The Aztec defense stuffed him for a line of 16/35 (2.2 yards per rush). Andrew Aleki returning an interception for a first quarter td and Seyddrick Lakalaka picking off Mr. Rogers at the 1:53 mark in the fourth quarter provided the defensive highlights for SDSU. And, yes, Keshawn Banks was offside prior to the snap that led to Mr. Lakalaka’s pick. Win some, lose some.

Lucas Johnson (look at his eyes and facial expression and tell me he does not look like a beach stoner) posted a 18/24/192 and 3 td evening. All while enduring 3 sacks and 1 interception. Jesse Matthews rose from the dust of little use the last few games and caught all three of Mr. Johnson’s td passes. Greg Bell gaining 2 yards on a fourth and one at the UNLV thirteen with 5:35 in the fourth quarter ultimately set the stage for Mr. Matthews third td. Sometimes football is ugly before beautiful. By the way, great call Brady Hoke.

6-1/10-1.

Go Aztecs.

Another pace and worry game. Yeah, I’m one of those guys. Nothing beats a two point win to sooth the mind. Not to forget that Nevada had the ball with 1:21 remaining before Noah Tumblin (who had a rough night) and Patrick McMorris batted down Carson Strong passes that would have resulted in first downs.

The Aztecs final drive started at the 30 and fizzled at the Nevada 17. Close enough for Matt Araiza to hit the winning field goal. Also, a timely catch by T.J. Sullivan for a first down at the Nevada 22 ultimately made Mr. Araiza’s attempt more manageable. I was quite pleased with his evening of three makes, all desperately required.

The halftime stats of 20 yards rushing for the Wolfpack shrunk to 8 by game’s end. Yep, 8 total yards rushing. A spectacular job by Kurt Mattix, his defensive staff and the guys on the field. The Aztec defense “contained” Carson Strong to a night of 34/48/350 for “only” 3 touchdowns. Cameron Thomas and Jalil Lecky chased Mr. Strong thoughout the game and did grab him for 3 sacks resulting in 19 yards backward.

Lucas Johnson continues to improve: 21/34/176 and most importantly no interceptions. Greg Bell returned from a third quarter injury to complete a line of 16/104 (6.5 yards per carry). Elijah Kothe (6/71) and Daniel Bellinger (5/26) were the best of the receivers.

Two games remain. Winning one of the two by double digits would do wonders for me. Think about that idea fellas.

5-1/9-1.

Go Aztecs.

SDSU 17, Hawaii 10

Posted: November 7, 2021 in Uncategorized

We were so-so. Hawaii was less than so-so.

Not many teams win while accumulating a meager 227 yards of total offense. Or featuring 99 yards passing. Or an anemic run game. Or 3.8 yards per play. Or suffering 9 penalties for 90 yards (yep, 10 yards shy of a football field).

Possessing the ball for 34 minutes was handy. As was 4 sacks and 6 tackles for loss that equaled 45 yards. Well done, Aztec defense.

A dreary game in paradise. Though, I’ve visited Hawaii and gave the state a “B”. Sure, the outrage and riots took awhile to quell.

Next week is Nevada. A tough game awaits. If we repeat the above the one repeat missing will be the win.

4-1/8-1.

Go Aztecs.

Bulldogs 30, Aztecs 20

Posted: October 31, 2021 in Uncategorized
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Our first loss. Cold comfort is game eight was our first loss. Nonetheless, boo.

Less time of possession, the Aztec offense for the most part was step for step with Fresno. Consider 165 rushing yards (us) to 179 (them). 23 first downs (us), 24 first downs (them). Red zone touchdowns registered 3/3 (us) and Fresno 3/5. Of course the passing game was no contest. Jake Haener’s 306 yards was far and away superior to Lucas Johnson’s 220. While displaying an ability to throw downfield, Mr. Johnson had the shame of 2 interceptions. Will Haskell piloting the last SDSU drive for a score was a peek into the near future. Jordan Mims ran, walked and skipped through the Aztec defense to the tune of 186 yards rushing. We made him a Heisman candidate.

Fresno outplayed the Aztecs. The first half especially. Not playing four quarters of defensive football was the root of our loss. Kurt Mattix will surely have a meaningful practice Monday morning.

I trust the the boys will be in a bad mood stepping off the plane in Honolulu next weekend.

3-1/7-1.

Go Aztecs.

We had no business playing past game 162. Seattle, Oakland and Toronto were more deserving by playing better baseball the entire month of September. Contrast the Sox’ anemic hitting and bullpen explosions. Yet, we beat the Evil Empire and somehow squeezed past a superior Tampa team before falling to the Astros. Not bad.

What did we learn in 2021? Alex Verdugo is one of the few, and I do emphasize few, hitters who hits opposite the shift. He loves left field and left field loves Alex. J.D. Martinez is a guaranteed whiff on low and away breaking balls. At his age with his success, I find this malady ridiculous. Hunter Renfroe is indeed one of the better right fielders in MLB. Christian Arroyo injures himself while waking up. Rafael Devers is Yaz II with his back breaking swing. While successful, far too many pop ups. Bobby Dalbec should receive a 10-year deal and play first base and only first base. Xander Bogaerts is an 81 game offensive wonder, then becomes an 81 game offensive shoulder shrug. Kiki Hernandez can play almost anywhere. Christian Vazquez needs to lay off 3,000 calorie days. He is a chunk by the end of May and his defense (mainly too many passed balls) suffers into the the late summer.

The following should never wear a Red Sox uniform again and if found in Boston immediately escorted to the city limits: Adam Ottavino (at times, I thought he would weep after a difficult 2/3’s of an inning), Darwinzon Hernandez (I cringed when he would stand in the bullpen), Phillips Valdez (he hit 7 batters in 40 innings) and Austin Davis (why did Chaim Bloom trade a living baseball player for this guy?).

The 2021 Winter To Do List includes saying good-bye to J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber (he is a defensive travesty at first base), and Eduardo Rodriguez, acquiring a large bat (preferably Kris Bryant or Jose Ramirez) and at least one starter of import and not necessarily a free agent. Trades are nice, especially one including Matt Barnes. As for my focus on Mr. Bryant and Mr. Ramirez, I want to see Rafa gently nudged off third base and become more of a dh. Sure, he can play third every now and then, but his true talent lies with a bat in both hands rather than a glove on one hand. 2022’s starting pitching should feature Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck and a couple of guys who didn’t play in Boston in 2021. The 2022 bullpen has Garrett Whitlock closing. Hirokazu Sawamura and Hansel Robles need a lot of company.

Have a swell winter.

What a game, what a game, what a game.

Both defenses were pound city. Smack, hammer, slam and repeat. Get up. More is on the way.

As for the Aztec offense, meh. But, meh was good enough to win. Lucas Johnson was a serviceable 11/13. Though his 72 yards was poor. Yet, I will not complain. Greg Bell did not make an appearance until the 12:30 mark in the third quarter. In his place, Jeff Hecklinski proved a rotation of Kaegun Williams, Jordan Byrd and Chance Bell was more than effective: We gathered the occasional first down, scored now and then, and kept the ball. 229 yards of total offense was bland, but enough.

The SDSU defense was stellar plus. Kurt Mattix is a man with a plan. Swarm to the ball. Hit hard and often. Air Force had a total of 259 yards. Only 192 rushing yards. Wow-wee. Oh, yeah, 4/16 on third down. A deep bow to the Air Force receiver, #0, who dropped a pass that would have been a touchdown. Luck and talent are hard to beat. Keshawn Banks’ second quarter ankle grab of the A.F. quarterback was brilliant. Mr. Banks introduced a new form of “gotcha!”. Dallas Branch’s one-handed interception set the tone for the game. Air Force had the ball with 2:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and did nothing. By the way, congrats to Mr. Branch, Vai Kaho and Desmond Bessent for joining the starters.

3-0/7-0. Who knew?

Go Aztecs.

SDSU 19, SJSU 13

Posted: October 17, 2021 in Uncategorized
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In a word, ugly. Yet, a win is a win.

San Jose arrived ready, willing and able. We arrived waiting for the game to end. The Spartan defense held the Aztec rushing company to 70 yards. Ugh. As in ugly. 240 yards of total offense as well. No more. Thank goodness, Lucas Johnson entered the game to throw two balls to Jesse Matthews for the overtime win (another sign of a lackluster effort by our beloved Aztecs).

I trust Jeff Hecklinski and Brady Hoke have concluded that starting Jordon Brookshire at quarterback is a waste of time, motion, effort, tides, gravity and asking repeatedly “why?”. While Lucas Johnson is a mere step above Mr. Brookshire, he is not Mr. Brookshire, therein lies the advantage.

If you were wondering about the tenacity of the Spartan defense, please consider the following: No Aztec running back averaged more than 4 yards per carry. Greg Bell averaged 2.2. ypc. The Aztec offense averaged barely 3.5 yards per play. However, the Spartans were most generous with various penalties totaling 101 yards in grass and dirt. Thank you.

Matt Araiza saved the day with 7 punts (another sign of poorly played offensive football) for 52.9 yards per whack.

The SDSU defense was a collective “meh”. Yielding 345 yards to San Jose State was unremarkable, boring and grim. Boo.

Yet, we won. Yet, I complain. About a team which has yet to lose. Life is good.

2-0/6-0.

Go Aztecs.

I will complain first. Yes, you know who remains my subject of complaint and concern. At some point, our talented running game will not be enough to secure a close win. Passing will be required. Specifically, the type of passing featuring completed passes. Not overthrowing, under throwing and plain old missing badly passing. The first quarter was a testament to how not to complete a pass. “Do you see the wide open receiver? You will want to throw the ball ten yards beyond his hands.” To describe Mr. Brookshire’s incompletions as inaccurate is a crime. 11/24/130 is a bad first half, not a game’s worth of effort. Yet, ’tis not true for Mr. Brookshire.

336 yards of total offense was enough to beat New Mexico. No, I did not feel bad for Danny Gonzales and Rocky Long. Those two gentlemen continue to have a lot to fix in Albuquerque. The Lobos lone touchdown was defensive, thus the SDSU defense pitched the proverbial shutout. The Aztec defense stuffed the UNM run to the tune of 66 yards rushing (1.9 yards per rush) and harassed the Lobo receiving corp into a meager 127 yards or less than 5 yards a catch. 16 third down attempts yielded success on only 3 occasions. 4 sacks for 35 yards is the SDSU norm. Every little bit helps. Kudos to Dallas Branch upon his return for 5 solo tackles which included 1 for a loss of 6 yards.

The Lobos did not help themselves with a whopping 9 penalties for 86 yards. A result reflective of much frustration. I was also surprised with the decision to return each Aztec kickoff from half inside the end zone. So much for strategy.

Matt Araiza averaged a puny (for him) 48.2 yards per boot. Oh, the shame.

Yep, we are ranked. Started the game at #25. Woke up Monday morning at #24.

To San Jose we go. Remember, last year Nick Nash nipped numerous wounds upon us last year. I trust we arrive focused and motivated by bad memories.

1-0/5-0.

Go, Aztecs.

An old fashion butt kicking featuring a total of 64 Aztecs on the field as the game progressed.

As you know, the game was not televised, thus I was enjoying the quality radio work of Ted Leitner, aka, Uncle Teddy. He is as entertaining, knowledgeable and self-deprecating as ever.

Back to the game. 450 total yards for the Aztec offense. 24 first downs (double Towson’s number). 8/15 on third down. 5/6 in the almighty red zone. A commanding 38:10 of football possession.

Matt Araiza averaged 65.7 yards per punt. Carson sits 39 feet above sea level. What will he average at Air Force? 75 yards per punt?

Brionne Penny had 4 catches for 55 yards. Will Haskell played the last half of the fourth quarter. Uncle Teddy painted a complimentary description of Mr. Haskell’s play. Mekhi Shaw started at one of the wide receiver spots. New faces to remember 2022 forward.

Once Greg Bell left the game, running back by committee took hold. Chance Bell (7/79), Kaegun Williams (10/76), Jordan Byrd (7/79) and Jaylon Armstead (13/44 all straight up the gut) provided the bulk of the offense. Mr. Armstead was christened “Chugga-Chugga” by Uncle Teddy during the radio broadcast.

Lucas Johnson was a serviceable 16/25 and 149 yards with a td. We will not discuss his interception.

The Aztec defense was not as active as the first three games, yet they held the Tigers to 228 total yards. 15, and only 15, of those yards were rushing yards. The Tigers averaged less than a yard per carry. Well done, Aztec defense.

Next week is an off week. Perfect timing for Greg Bell, Andrew Aleki, Jordon Brookshire and Tayler Hawkins to get well. New Mexico visits to begin MWC play October 9. Rocky Long returns. Should be fun. I wonder if defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix will present Rocky with a gift?

4-0.