Posts Tagged ‘Bob Toledo’

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.

While the Aztec offense was generally incapable of scoring in the almighty red zone for most of the evening, the Aztec defense was the definition of beauty . . . if you are a football fan.  Hawaii scrapped together a paltry 264 yards of total offense including less than 100 yards of rushing offense.  Two interceptions, one each by Damontae Kazee and Malik Smith, at key moments, removed any hope of momentum on behalf of the Rainbow.  SDSU stopping Hawaii’s late third quarter drive sealed the deal.  Hawaii had the ball a mere 2:49 in the fourth quarter.  No chance to close the gap.  Less the fluke touchdown at the end of the second quarter, Hawaii does not score a touchdown.  The final bit of proof:  Six punts on behalf of the visitors.

As for the Aztec offense, ugly, but effective enough.  Quinn Kaehler (13/24/174) played well given his shoulder consideration. No interceptions was nice.  He hit 10 different receivers for completions.  I will generally ignore the glaring number of dropped passes on behalf of the receiving corps.  71 offensive plays and 457 total yards suggest that SDSU should have put at least another 17 points on the board.  Hageman missing from 31 is proof he’s human, and remains a tremendous upgrade from last year’s field goal efforts.  Donnel (25/182) may have to share more time with not only Chase Price, but Marcus Stamps as well.  Mr. Stamps run of 34 yards was a combination of grace and bruising-cruising.  Imagine Bob Toledo working a few plays with a three back set of the following four:  Pumphrey, Price, Stamps and Gordon.  Linebackers wince at the mere thought.

A well deserved and timed week off allows Mr. Kaehler rest and rehab.  Same goes for all Aztecs suffering dings and dents.  Ezell Ruffin should return for the Idaho game (11/8), though do not be surprised if he plays against Nevada (11/1).

4-3/3-1.  At Nevada is the immediate challenge.  Less a complete breakdown, Idaho is a win.  Boise did not impress against Fresno.  Air Force is never easy.  San Jose needing overtime to beat Wyoming is a great sign for SDSU.  Worst case for the last 5 games is 3-2, though I’m hopeful for 5-0.  Call me greedy.

The maniac rant is first, analysis is second.

Nick Bawden brings very little.  He is ineffective.  He is a mid-level manager searching for inspiration while claiming to provide leadership.  4 of 13 for 63 yards is not an Aztec quarterback.  Nor a quarterback who should appear on a depth chart.  If Mr. Bawden is the best Brian Sipe can recruit from the deep pool of southern California, then I impolitely suggest that Mr. Sipe log many more miles on his car.  I firmly suggest that Mr. Bawden sit for the remainder of the year while Christian Chapman assumes the number two spot on the depth chart.

Speaking of quarterbacks, the return of Quinn Kaehler was of note.  Upon his third quarter entry, the offense was much crisper.  Seemingly, SDSU looked like the second coming of the 49ers offense during the 1980s.  Yet, all we did was run.  And run.  And run.  Thank goodness for Donnel Pumphrey and Chase Price.  Those two were fantastic.  Donnel logging 246 yards and Chase hitting 141 yards were both a sight to behold.  And, yes, I forgive both of you for fumbling.  But, no more.  Congrats to the offensive line.  The big guys were head and shoulders above the UNM d-line.  Bob Toledo found something lacking on the left side of the UNM defense, and the Aztec line pummeled that weakness.  Better conditioning, stronger.  Altitude be damned.  Well done.

The Aztec defense continues to impress.  The Lobos triple option did not provide much of any option the entire evening.  152 yards rushing and a mere 111 yards passing is testament to another top-notch SDSU defensive effort.  The poor 4 for 13 on third down conversions was further proof of an Aztec defense that clicked the entire night.  Trey Lomax played his best game of the year.  Damontae Kazee had an impressive fourth quarter.  I did note that Rocky went with a four-man front the entire game.  Dakota Turner has played himself into a starting role.

I have accepted that Mr. Kaehler  will throw at least one interception per game.  I’d rather that outcome than the alternative.

Hawaii at the Q is next.  3-3/2-1 should (always a dangerous word) become 4-3/3-1.  Fresno State’s loss to UNLV was most welcome.

The good news:  We won.  Donald Hageman made a field goal and all the point after kicks.  Almost 31,000 in the stands.  Mrs. Gwynn has excellent aim.

The bad news:  Quinn Kaehler played with the authority of a newbie.  The linebacking crew was as effective as a dieter in Hodads, thus the defensive backs were far too involved.

The Aztecs rushed for three of five touchdowns.  Donnel Pumphrey looked very good (19/111).  Chase Price’s first run from scrimmage is Youtube bound.  Enthusiasm doesn’t begin to describe that run.  Returning to Kaehler, 18-29-1 is passable (no pun intended) on paper, but the reality was yuck.  He threw behind his receivers a half-dozen times.  He was well short a couple of times.  Ruffin’s one-handed grab was testament to the difficulty all Aztec receivers faced in attempting to catch a pass.  Thanks to Bob Toledo’s play calling, we struck an almost perfect balance between the rush (194) and pass (205) for  a yard shy of 400 overall.  Not bad for the first game.

Six of the top seven tacklers were defensive backs.  Not good.  Far too much advance past the line of scrimmage by the NAU Lumberjacks.  Micah Seau had one assist.  He started.  Boo.  Of the 65 total tackles (solo and assists), a measly 14 were credited to the linebacking crew.  A below average 22% of total tackles.  Rocky was very unhappy and rightfully so.  The third quarter, the NAU coaching staff discovered the left side of the Aztec defense was an open door leading downfield.  That was an ugly period of time.  As usual, Rocky adjusted and the problem disappeared, but such a deficiency is most disappointing against a team such as the L’jacks that do not have near our athletic ability (sorry, NAU).

Next Saturday is UNC.  If Kaehler plays flatline football, we are in for a looooooonnnnnnngggggggg evening.  If the linebacking corps remains passive to the line of scrimmage, refer to the aforementioned length of evening.  The game is an ESPN broadcast.  Time to play well, let the nation know the Aztecs are national, not just regional and beat the Tar Heels.

Offense

Quarterbacks:  Anytime productive, returning starting quarterbacks return, bonus points await.  Quinn Kaehler will notably improve upon last year’s numbers.  Bob Toledo has stated that he intends to add many a layer to this year’s offense.  Mr. Burns may as well add another hound.  Warren Buffet may as well want to make more money.  Kaehler will average better than 35 attempts this year and more than 300 yards a game.  Aztec receivers will be most pleased.  More on the receiving corps later.  Nick Bawden named the back-up to Kaehler was a surprise.  On behalf of all, may Mr. Bawden see nothing more than mop up work deep into the fourth quarter during 2014.

Running Backs:  Listening to Donnel Pumphrey explain during a recent 1090 broadcast that he had “put on weight” only to land at 170 pounds was worth a laugh.  Donnel will never take an extended defensive pounding, but he can run, he can turn a corner and as Ted Leitner will say many a time during Donnel’s Aztec years:  “He’s gone!”  The partner back, whether Chase Price or Marcus Stamps, will be a bruiser.  Lucky Radley (the Utah transfer) may well offer a surprisingly productive single year as an Aztec.  Adam Roberts may not block as well as Chad Young (who does?), but Adam will tuck away many a short pass from Kaehler at a key time to keep a drive alive or slide over the goal line.  Both back ups, Dakota Gordon and Chris Hokokian, are juniors looking to impress for 2015.

Receivers:  I include tight ends with the tall skinny guys.  Ezell Ruffin should have a mammoth year.  Sure, he’ll suffer many a double team, but with Toledo’s decision to enhance all things offense, a double team will cost the opposition as much as one-on-one with Ezell.  Larry Clark, Eric Judge, Jemond Hazely, Robert Craighead and Daniel Brunskill bring experience.  Paul Pitts and Lloyd Mills are the best of the rest in waiting.

O-Line:  Compared to last year’s hand wringing at this time, seems the Aztecs do not have much concern.  Size is important, but more so quick feet.  Terry Poole (310 lbs), Nico Siragusa (325 lbs), Darrell Greene (315 lbs) and Pearce Slater (335 lbs) are reported fine dancers.  The “light” Zach Dilley (a mere 295 lbs) will snack his way to the triple hundred club.  Paul Rodriguez, Jordan Smith and Garrett Corbett are experienced and too far down the depth chart.  Alas, Rocky believes in daily competition.

Defense

D-Line:  I’m a bit flummoxed at the concern.  I see five guys with experience.  Perhaps too much is made of Dontrell Onuoha as the only returning starter and Cody Galea’s switch to the linebacking corps.  Jon Sanchez, Sam Meredith, Alex Barrett and Kenny Galea’i played effectively last year.  Truly a group that improved as the season wore on.  I look for a jump in sacks and general knock downs from this group.  To think, if Christian Heyward ever realizes his health and potential, this group could be imposing.

Linebackers:  How quickly strength can become weakness.  With Jake Fely and Josh Gavert out until who knows when, Derek Largent indeed becomes the old man.  Galea, while new to the linebacking position, brings three years of experience into the 2014 season.  Rocky has stated that Galea will occupy a pseudo line position at the start of each snap, thus modifying the 3-3-5, but this strikes me as an opportunity for Rocky to be creative.  Fred Melifonwu, Calvin Munson, Mich Seau and Devante Davis will be busy.  Many a true freshmen (four are listed on the 8/12/14 depth chart) may receive a swift introduction to division one football.

The Last Five (or commonly known as the defensive backfield in other programs):  The safety concerns are well-known.  I expect a burn or two especially against UNC and the Beavers.  Hopefully, whatever is given away defensively can be recaptured offensively.  Regardless, Na’im McGee does bring juco experience and Trey Lomax is backed up by the experienced TJ Hickman.  Malik Smith and Pierre Romain will one-two the other Warrior spot until one out plays the other.  J.J. Whittaker and Damontae Kazee will be the best corner duo in the MWC by season’s end.

Special Teams and the Rest:  McMorrow’s fall from grace continues.  Joel Alesi keeps the punting job.  Newcomer Danny Hageman is the kicker . . . for now.  McMorrow lingers behind both.  The kickoff and punt returns will be the usual exercise in control and fumble avoidance, but I can’t wait to see Marcus Stamps return a kickoff with a head of steam underway.  Cleats will fly.  Jeff Overbaugh is back for year three as the long snapper.  The best compliment one can give a long snapper is only senior long snappers receive mention as the draft approaches.  We will hear much about Jeff next year.

A note of caution.  The shortcoming that drove me crazy last year was the defense taking the first half to get in game mode.  Granted, Rocky always makes the halftime adjustment, but this year, I’d much rather enjoy the sight of a finely tuned defense game ready at the coin flip rather than the first minute of the second half.

Prediction:  Best case, 10-2.  Worst case, 8-4.  Another bowl game either way.  The offense averages near 450 yards per game.

May health be an Aztec blessing.