Posts Tagged ‘Chase Price’

Who knew?

After a horrible, expectation deflating 1-3 start, we run the Mountain West table to finish 8-0 in conference.  Never thought this would or could happen.  Did not cross my mind (but not much does).

Nevada arrived ready to play even in light of the poorly managed announcement of their offensive coordinator accepting the Hawaii head coaching job.  Best to keep such changes quiet until after the game is played.  Maybe next time.  The first half was tit for tat.  The SDSU defensive backs, less Malik Smith (a stellar first half effort), gave up far too much yardage via Wolf Pack passing schemes that reminded me of Air Force’s sneak-behind-the-defensive-backs strategy.  Regardless, Nevada scored 14 points.

Long before the second half arrives, along with improvement, so does my much called for replacement of Maxwell Smith.  But not in the fashion delivered.  Christian Chapman played well.  6/9 for 44 yards and handing the ball off with extreme abandon (kidding) while rushing for 29 yards himself gives pause for thought.  Dual threat?  We will know more after December 5th.  However, on Mr. Chapman’s behalf, he played the entire game from the 7+ minute mark in the first quarter forward.  Only 7 of the eventual 31 points were scored prior to his arrival.  Donnel Pumphrey (23/157) was certainly irked by comments from a Nevada defensive back.  I want to thank that young man for angering Donnel to another great game.  Chase Price (19/118) ran like a player who knows the end is near.

The Aztec defense had 4 sacks and 2 picks.  Just another day at the office.  The notable Wolf Pack running duo of Don Jackson and James Butler were held to 3.1 and 2.5 yards per rush respectively.  The Nevada offense gained a mere 10 first downs.  Perhaps most telling was the 1 for 6 effort in third down conversions during the fourth quarter.  A tip of the helmet to the Aztec defense for finding itself in the second half.  Also, no second half points allowed.  All this without the injured Christian Heyward.

We will host Air Force for the first Mountain West Conference championship game and rightfully so.  Undefeated teams should host games, not teams with two conference defeats.  I feel better.  Air Force is always a concern given their offensive sets and general intense play.  A tough bunch.  For the moment we enjoy an overall record of 9-3 to accompany the 8-0 MWC record.  First place in the West division.  An eight game win streak.  What shall December 5th bring?


Three consecutive games of unbelievable defense.  Comprehensive in every sense of the word.  Less idiotic penalties, dare I say, perfect?  Perhaps I’m gushing, but the complete shut down of the offenses of Fresno State, Hawaii and San Jose State is impressive, awe-inspiring and downright wow.

Let us review the complete San Jose State beating:  35 yards rushing.  The much mentioned Tyler Ervin was held to 31 yards in 17 carries.  Mr. Ervin certainly had his opportunities.  SJSU rushing attempts yielded 1 yard per rush.  1 yard.  36 inches of grass and dirt.  As for the air, 113 yards passing.  That equates to barely 8 yards gained per completion.  Whether by foot or by air, the Spartans averaged less than a first down.  4 sacks (16 for the year), 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles.  Applause, and lots of it, for the Aztec defense.  An Aztec defense without Dakota Turner and Trey Lomax.  An Aztec defense that featured J.J. Whitaker losing his mind via assaulting a Spartan wide receiver, thereby receiving the obligatory personal foul (this stuff must stop.  9 flags for 76 yards is stupid).  An Aztec defense featuring true freshman Ronley Lakalaka subbing for Jake Fely in the second half.  148 yards of total offense allowed by this stellar defense.

Darrell Greene’s return to the offensive line was notable.  Nothing against Robert Craighead, but Mr. Greene knows the business of blocking and pummeling his defensive opponent.  Addressing the obvious, Mr. Greene’s presence related directly to Maxwell Smith’s comfort.  While I continue to find astounding Mr. Smith’s lack of air production, he was much more a quarterback than any prior game.  10/14/144 is, again, serviceable.  No picks is extra nice.  The running game was almost as phenomenal as the SDSU defense.  Donnel Pumphrey (20/153) and Chase Price (10/47) led the way to the end zone and impressive drives.  However, I found at least one of Donny Hageman’s field goals should have been a touchdown (okay, two of his kicks should have been touchdowns), but I find confidence in his 3/3 evening via his foot.

Speaking of feet, Tanner Blain was NFL good by landing all three punts inside the fifteen, two of which were inside the ten.  Well done.

3-0.  Utah State is next.  The Aggies destroyed Boise State.  Not a team to be taken lightly.  Thankfully, at the Q is helpful.  The run continues.


Yeah, a win is a win is a win.  But, the San Diego State offense remains a memory.  Distant memory.

You’re asking yourself, why so glum?  305 total rushing yards.  400+ total offensive yards.  Do the math.  Therein lies my complaint.

Congrats to Donnel Pumphrey prior to injury for 23/129.  Chase Price certainly delivered as much with 27/151.  Dakota Gordon had a fullback kind of game with 5/34.  Well done.  The offensive line was pushing the Bulldog front four off the line the majority of the game.  8/18 on third down conversions is definite improvement.  As was having the ball for better than 37 minutes.

The Aztec defense was marvelous.  6 Fresno State first downs.  89 total offensive yards including an unheard of 12 yards rushing.  Wow!  1.9 yards per play.  0/12 on third down.  10 punts.  The defense was stellar, almost perfect and a sight for sore eyes.  Thank you.

However, not mentioned in the offensive summation above is another stale and unimpressive performance delivered by Maxwell Smith.  5/12.  Yuck.  How and why Rocky Long and Jeff Horton continue to purposefully turn a blind eye to Mr. Smith’s lack of quarterbacking skills is beyond me.  Candidly, at this point in the season, I wonder how he ever threw for significant yardage during his Kentucky days.  Again, please escort Mr. Smith to the sideline . . . permanently.  Christian Chapman needs a chance to display the ability to avoid a sack as well as connect with an open receiver on a regular basis.

If Aztec faithful want smash-mouth football, we have exclusively that brand of football.  Those of us who remember the days of footballs flying downfield for 50+ yards at a time are feeling rather lonely and uncomfortable.  Especially during the game in our near future during which the running game is corralled.

1-0.  The MWC table run begins.  I hope.




1.  Boise State.  Nine offensive starters and eight defensive starters return.  Sure, they lose their starting quarterback and top two rushers, but Boise has been reloading for years (as opposed to rebuilding).  Shane Williams-Rhodes is the best offensive player in the MW.  Boise has the best offensive line in conference.  Why?  Because all five starters return.  Scott Huff, the offensive line coach, sleeps well.  If any improvement is needed, see the defense, but by no means is that side of the ball a true weakness.  Similar to finding a bit of dust on a clean car.

2.  Utah State.  If Chuckie Keeton stays healthy, a good year for the people of Logan, Utah.  If Chuckie is dinged, a long year for the people of Logan, Utah.  Losing Jo Jo Natson hurts.  With Mr. Natson, the Aggies would have made Boise a tad nervous regarding first place in the Mountain division.  Now, not so much.  LaJuan Hunt should see his 111 rushing attempts increase greatly in 2015.  So, too, will his average of 4.9 yards.  The same improvement will be seen from Hunter Sharp at the wide receiver spot.  A quality football player.  USU’s main challenge will be the defensive line.  Look for their talented linebackers to help in front and help often.

3.  Air Force.  The Cadets return four of their top five rushers.  Sure, they lose their starting quarterback, but this is Air Force on the ground.  Forget the irony.  Your head will explode.  Only four defensive starters return (one lineman, two linebackers and one defensive back).  Granted, brains go a long way, but the inexperience on the defensive side of the ball may be painful.  Air Force gave up 103 fourth quarter points last year.  That number will increase in 2015.  During close games, if Air Force has the ball in the final minute, be glad.  If not, cringe.

4.  University of New Mexico.  Two words:  Lamar Jordan.  This kid has the soul of Doug Flutie and the nerves of a sniper (probably inappropriate, but the best I could do.  The sniper reference, not Flutie).  Jhurell Pressley and Teriyon Gipson are the best one-two running back punch in the entire MWC.  The Lobos will score and score often in 2015.  The Lobos need to provide a much improved defensive effort in the third quarter (a stunning 133 points were allowed during those fifteen minutes in 2014.  Evidently, understanding defensive adjustments during halftime is optional).  This is a squad returning seven defensive starters that were part of a defense that allowed well over 6,000 total offensive yards last year.  The Lobos defense gave up 58 points twice and 60 points once last year.  Enough said.

5.  Colorado State:  Anytime a head coach of Jim McElwain’s ability leaves the field, so does my confidence.  Include the departure of Garrett Grayson, and the Rams have a significant challenge in 2015.  The return of Treyous Jarrells at running back is a place to begin.  Rashard Higgins (96 catches, 1,750 yards) and the almost as talented Joe Hansley and Xavier Williams hope to benefit from an occasional pass or two tossed their way.  Who will get the ball to that trio?  Nick Stevens?  Coleman Key?  Stay tuned.  Thankfully for the Fort Collins faithful, eight defensive starters return.  If Lamar Jordan wasn’t the UNM qb, I would place the Rams fourth in the Mountain division.  But, that’s not the case.

6.  Wyoming.  Wyoming, where the wind blows and so, too, does hope.  Only five offensive and four (ouch) defensive starters return (including the loss of six of their top ten tacklers).  Losing their starting quarterback and top two receivers adds to the challenge.  However, Brian Hill and Shaun Wick will see plenty of action from the offensive backfield.  Last year, they combined for 271 rushing attempts.  Look for 300+ in 2015.  If the Cowboys can repeat last year’s home record of 3-3, rejoice Laramie, rejoice.  On behalf of Coach Craig Bohl and staff (most of whom followed Mr. Bohl from North Dakota State University), this group of coaches provide the best chance for the Cowboys to return to the heady days of Joe Tiller.


1.  San Diego State:  Last year’s finish of 7-6/5-3 including a bowl game loss was disappointing . . . which is evidence of just how far Aztec football has come.  Donnel Pumphrey is the best running back in the MW, bar none.  The other top two SDSU rushers, Chase Price and Dakota Gordon, also return.  The receiving corps in 2104 was a massive disappointment.  Given a new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, look for renewed spirit and result.  Eight defensive starters return from the best MW defensive squad in 2014.  Not a single defensive back from the 2014 team leaves.  Can an Aztec defense that allowed a paltry 192 passing yards per game yield even less in 2015?  Yep.

2.  San Jose State.  Call me crazy.  Call me nut job.  The Spartans have a fine coaching staff (though, I find suspect the hiring of Al Borges as offensive coordinator) in year two of a massive overhaul.  The under-the-radar-who-is-this-guy Joe Gray at the qb spot provides the Spartans with one of the better MWC quarterbacks.  Mr. Gray, in eleven games, threw for better than 2,300 yards and had a completion rate of 63.6%.  Fair warning on behalf of Spartan defensive foes, their top three receivers return.  Tyler Ervin (5.6 yards per rush) and Brandon Monroe (4.3 yards per rush) offer quality rushing options.  On the other side of the ball, San Jose State loses six of their top ten tacklers and return only six starters.  The 2015 Spartan defensive challenge is to rebuild their linebacking unit.  SJSU defensive backs had better fill gaps quickly and get to know the opposing running backs.

3.  Fresno State.  Along with Colorado State, the Bulldogs suffer the most notable slip in the MWC during 2015.  They lose both their number one and two quarterbacks from 2014, all significant rushers, less their number one back (Marteze Waller) as well as their top three receivers.  Only six offensive starters return along with a paltry five defensive starters including only five of their top ten tacklers from 2014.  Continuing with the defensive concerns, last year Fresno State gave up 32.4 points per game.  That number increases in 2015.  Granted, Boise reloads, but Fresno must rebuild.  Any significant defensive injury or prolonged struggle at the quarterback spot may lead to a finish of less than third in the West.

4.  Nevada.  Losing Cody Fajardo will have the same effect that Colorado State will experience with the loss of Mr. Grayson.  Mr. Fajardo was also the Wolfpack’s leading rusher.   A great deal of Nevada offense has left the field.  Granted, Don Jackson (4.4 yards per rush) and James Butler (4.5 yards per rush) will see their participation increase greatly during 2015.  If the ‘pack can find somebody to throw the ball to Jerico Richardson (56 catches) and Hasaan Henderson (45 catches), perhaps 2015 may not be bleak.  Speaking of bleak, on the other side of the ball, only five defensive starters return.   Not a single starting defensive back returns.  Opposing quarterbacks may have much to smile about during Nevada games.  If the Wolfpack defense allows less than 30 points per game, enjoy the surprise.

5.  Hawaii.  The only reason I choose a Norm Chow coached team not to finish last is because UNLV hired a high school coach as head coach.  True to Mr. Chow’s demeanor, he retains his starting quarterback, Ikaika Woolsey, then immediately curries favor to the USC transfer, Max Wittek.  The top two wide receivers return along with two of the top three rushers.  With eight offensive starters, including the shunned Mr. Woolsey, this is Hawaii’s best Chow version.  Unfortunately, seven of their top-ten tacklers leave.  Six defensive starters return.  Smart money says 2014’s 26.8 points per game (second best in the West division) increases to counter balance an improved offense because Hawaii seems to suffer from a lack of luck.

6.  UNLV.  As mentioned above, the Rebels hired Tony Sanchez, a high school coach, as head coach.  Mr. Sanchez, brave soul, has five returnees on each side of the ball.  Starting quarterback Blake Decker returns as do three of the top four rushers (including Mr. Decker).  Devonte Boyd (65 catches) and Kendal Keys (12.9 yards per reception) offer receiving experience.  Six of the top seven tacklers return (they will be busy, very busy) in 2015.  Last year, the Rebels defense allowed 513.5 yards per game.  Perhaps they can be south of 500 yards allowed per game in 2015.  Perhaps.  Final note, all but one of the UNLV coaching staff enter their respective first year as coach at UNLV.  Could be a long, hot football season on the Strip.

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.

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.