Posts Tagged ‘Ezell Ruffin’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet, we win.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.