Posts Tagged ‘Rocky Long’

The simplistic thought process of Kevin Acee’s 6/23/17 UT piece is astounding.  Mr. Acee, long a Soccer City supporter at the expense of SDSU, suggests that Aztec football coach Rocky Long lead the school to the light known as Soccer City (beware of train tracks and tunnels).

Per Mr. Acee’s musings, he insists that Mr. Long must rise in Aztec Warrior gear and smack SDSU administration on its collective helmet to knock sense into all things Aztec.  Key to this dream is Mr. Acee’s reference to Mr. Long once loudly disagreeing with a former athletic director.  A coach, not just football, who speaks his mind?  Who knew?  Believe the vision or else prepare for shouting.

As the article unfolds with alarms, sirens, flashing red lights and general call for panic, Mr. Acee obviously wants SDSU to return to the fleecing of Soccer City whereupon the university would underwrite the annual operating expenses for an MLS squad per agreement with FS Investors.  I think not.

Mr. Acee forgets that FS Investors is under no obligation to pursue an MLS franchise.  Also, MLS has never guaranteed granting a San Diego franchise.  Attaching the future of Aztec football to a potential MLS franchise has all the surety of fog.  Since when does a stadium ranging in capacity from 22,500 to 30,000 satisfy the desire to move up the college football money ladder?  FS Investors development plan physically surrounds the proposed stadium with various forms of development that would make impossible the false promise of stadium expansion.   Moving a multi-story office building slightly to the left to expand the end zone is a non-starter.  SDSU would guarantee itself the proud owner of the smallest MWC football stadium.  The best football team in the MWC gets the smallest stadium.  The most populous city in the MWC gets the smallest stadium.

As Mr. Acee writes of solutions, then he immediately dismisses said solutions.  No viable alternative exists.  All is lost.  The end is, oh, so near.  Only Soccer City saves.  Amen.  Soccer City accepts checks and credit cards.  Tell a loved one.

But, don’t tell Rocky Long.  Rocky will smack you upside your helmet.

 

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What a game, what a game.

Best loss of Rocky’s tenure.  Why?  Because we marched 99 yards in 1 minute, 7 seconds and scored.  Christian Chapman looked like a quarterback.  No offense (or pun), but at times I wonder if he can throw for 200 plus yards on a regular basis.  He did so Saturday.

As for Rocky’s two-point conversion call that failed, to those of you whining, stop.  Rocky being Rocky is part of Rocky.  Also, this is the second loss of the season and first MWC loss.  Remember the days when we dreamed of a two loss season?  Wouldn’t that be swell?  Guess what?  Two losses is swell.

I listened to the game on the phone for one very good reason:  Finding a bar in Pacific Beach that features C-CBS is akin to finding fresh water in the Pacific.  I do enjoy listening to Uncle Teddy broadcast Aztec athletic events, but I must ask Ted to refrain from the “depleted defense” comments.  No we are not.  Na’im McGee, Randy Ricks, Tyler Morris and John Carroll have been sidelined most of the year.  We are fine.  Losing Derek Babiash, Billy Vaughn, Jr and Fred Melifonwu to self-inflicted idiocy was also overcome.  The Aztecs are loaded with talented football players.  No more “woe is us” dear Uncle Teddy.

However, I felt that we arrived not ready to commit to the season long, less South Alabama, idea of arriving in a bad mood to greet opponents with football in hand.  We were lethargic especially the defensive back 5.  Tackling with both arms and wrapping up seemed to be optional.  I trust this will not be an issue for the remainder of the season.

Hats off to Jay Henderson.  I do not know the football sin committed by Ryan Dunn, but Mr. Henderson was a more than able replacement.  Another deep sweep of the hat to Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington.  These two make for an ultra talented pair of kick off returners on an extraordinary level.  A side comment to Mr. Penny regarding his runs from scrimmage, please stop running out of bounds.  Take a hit and get another couple of yards.

I opened with referencing the closing drive, I must also mention the end of the first half drive.  Not quite the length of the field, but close.  And a touchdown as well.  The SDSU offense does impress when time is of the essence.

Wyoming’s qb, Josh Allen, is a first round pick in the making.  Impressive arm and decision making.  The Wyoming defensive line was also effective.  Donnel Pumphrey rarely found a rushing attempt in excess of four yards.  Cowboy linebackers were quick to fill the rare hole.

Returning to the Aztec defense, allowing 5.8 yards per play while showing the Pokes 84 offensive plays is the perfect recipe for a long day.  Further testament to the lackluster effort of the back 5 was Mr. Allen’s 17.6 yards per completed pass.  Far too much grass was given.  Also, when was the last time an opposing qb threw 31 attempts while rushing for 69 yards?  Tis a no-no.  Finally, Wyoming enjoying 9/17 on third down conversions and 2/2 on fourth down is not to be repeated.  A poor Aztec defensive effort.

Colorado State closes the MWC season less the conference championship game.  Hmm.  Senior day.  Alex Barrett, Kyle Kelley, Calvin Munson, Austin Wyatt-Thayer, Malik Smith and Damontae Kazee all say “good-bye” to the Q and Aztec faithful.  Motivated?  Good luck to the Rams offense.  The flip side features Kwayde Miller, Nico Siragusa, Arthur Flores, Daniel Brunskill, Curtis Anderson and a running back by the name of Donnel Pumphrey playing together for the last time down the street from the beach.  Should be fun.

9-2/6-1.

 

Yes, a good start.  As mentioned in my SDSU season preview, non-con games at home are often a source of disappointment.  Thankfully, the Aztec defense completely eliminated any semblance of University of New Hampshire (UNH from this point forward) offense.  How complete?

71 rushing yards.  70 passing yards.  That complete.  For good measure, each UNH rushing attempt averaged a meager 2.3 yards while each passing attempt was capped at 3.5 yards.  That is Rocky Long defense.  Also, not once did UNH enter the treasured red zone.  Include 0-14 on third down attempts.  Impressive Aztec defense.

Christian Chapman did quite well with a line of 16/25/283.  Two td passes and zero interceptions.  Christian averaged a respectable 17.1 yards per completion.  Stretching the field makes for a clicking offense.  Eric Judge (5/54) and Mikah Holder (4/160) were the primary beneficiaries of Christian’s arm.   Donnel Pumphrey was well contained by the UNH defense.  Any team that holds Donnel to 98 yards rushing is to be applauded.  I did note that when Donnel ran to the right side, not much happened.  When he ran up the middle and to the left, he was successful.  However, the Aztecs did churn 461 yards of total offense by the end of the game.  Well balanced.

Cal is next.  Here comes the week long moan of not beating a PAC-12 team since the beginning of time or at least the creation of football.  Please stop.  If Donnel runs free and Mr. Chapman has consecutive productive, error free games, we beat Cal.  Recall, they played Hawaii two weeks ago and allowed 31 points.  The Rainbow offense is nowhere near our offense.

1-0.

 

Accolades make me nervous.  Too much praise this preseason from too many sources.  Does that offer balance?  I don’t know.  All I know is Aztec football history.  Sure, the last six years have been incredible, but I suffer the memory of the Luginbill/Tollner/Craft/Long (Chuck, not Rocky) years.  Thus, I want to embrace the preseason hype, but all I can do is nod and smile.

Defense (because everybody wants to read about the offense first).

The Line:  Two leave, thus two must be replaced.  Kyle Kelley wins the battle for the honor of pairing with the returning Alex Barrett at defensive end.  Sergio Phillips seems to be the starting nose guard if, a big if, Rocky decides not to pull Sergio and return him to the offensive line (more on the other line later).  Noble Hall is a worthy nose guard if Sergio returns to the other side of the ball.  Grade B.

Linebackers:  Calvin Munson returns for his final year.  A superior talent.  Randy Ricks and Austin Wyatt-Thayer complete a talented trio with Ronley Lakalaka and Ryan Dunn as the primary back-ups.  Grade A.

Back Five:  Remember, this is Rocky Long’s defense, not the standard offering.  The strength of the defense lies with these five.  Four starters return.  Malik Smith, Na’im McGee, Kameron Kelly and Damontae Kazee.  Billy Vaughn or Derek Babiash will complete the back five.  This group will set an Aztec record for most interceptions by a defensive backfield during 2016.  A talented second squad is ready with Parker Baldwin, Trey Lomax and Kalan Montgomery (these three would start for other MWC teams).  Opposing quarterbacks with little to no experience will not sleep prior to playing SDSU.  Chaos, fright, visions of sharp teeth and outright panic will overwhelm many a quarterback (and offensive coordinator) attempting to prepare and execute a game plan against the Aztec defense.  Grade A.

Punting (technically, a defensive skill.  I promise):  Tanner Blain was steady in foot application in 2015.  I expect the same foot in 2016.  Grade A.

Offense (at last).

Quarterback:  Christian Chapman guiding the 2015 team to wins against Nevada, Air Force and Cincinnati is proof of not only talent, but the ability and willingness to follow the script of offensive coordinator Jeff Horton.  Christian must improve upon his ability to throw downfield 40+ yards a half-dozen attempts as each game progresses.  Stretching the field makes for many a miss on behalf of Aztec running backs.  Christian can run as well.  Jimmy Walker and Ryan Agnew battle for appearances during wipe outs.  Even though Mr. Agnew won the back-up spot post-fall camp, I prefer Mr. Walker given his considerable junior college experience.  Nothing personal, Mr. Agnew.  Grade B.

Running Backs:  Donnel Pumphrey will politely run past Marshall Faulk at the end of the Cal game or no later than the Northern Illinois game.  His final total rushing yardage as an Aztec begins with a question mark.  Who knows?  However, I must admit concern with Donnel’s past brush with high ankle sprains.  No, I’m not a doctor, but his past must be acknowledged.  Rashaad Penny will receive one rushing opportunity for every two of Donnel’s.  He will impress.  I would not be surprised to witness Rashaad rush for 1,000 yards this year (shades of Chase Price).  Juwan Washington is receiving a lot of under the radar praise as the third back and kick return partner of Rashaad’s.  We shall see.  Grade A.

Fullback:  Nick Bawden (thank God he no longer throws a football) or Dakota Turner, your choice.  Candidly, I would rather Mr. Turner return to the defensive side of the ball.  I’m going with Nick since he’s played on the offensive side his entire time as an Aztec.  May he block well, not fumble and catch the occasional seven to ten yard pass for a first down.  Grade C.

Wide Receiver:  Sure, Coach Hunkie Cooper’s first year was 2015, but this group underperformed.  Yes, they can block downfield, but catching downfield is the goal, thus the position title, wide receiver, not wide blocker.  Mikah Holder will get the attention of opposing defensive backfields, thus some combination of Chase Favreau, Curtis Anderson, Eric Judge and Christian Cumberland must offer Christian Chapman open receivers who can catch a football in flight.  Grade C.

Tight End:  If Daniel Brunskill switches to right tackle, David Wells becomes the starting tight end.  David is 6′ 5″ and easy to find.  Kahale Warring (6′ 6″) or Darryl Richardson (6′ 5″) will pair with Mr. Wells during double tight end sets.  However, if Mr. Brunskill remains a tight end, he and Mr. Wells form a potent one-two combination for Christian Chapman.  Grade A with Mr. Brunskill, grade B without him.

Offensive Line:  Panic ignited when Joe Salcedo was injured.  Joe’s injury, while unfortunate, leads to opportunity for Nick Gerhard or David Servatius (switch to the right, David) to back up Daniel Brunskill . . . who was the reported (Rocky stated he was switching Mr. Brunskill to right tackle) fall camp favorite to start at right tackle!  I do not understand the hand wringing and hair pulling!  Calm down, my fellow Aztecs.  The left side is solid with Nico Siragusa at guard and Kwayde Miller at tackle.  Arthur Flores starts at center.  Antonio Rosales will partner with either Daniel Brunskill or a well-groomed replacement on the right side via the efforts of Line Coach Mike Schmidt.  I admit the second tier guys have little experience, but injury is why we recruit well and practice with intent to start.  Grade B.

Kicking Game:  John Baron has substantial leg.  Now he has the opportunity to show said leg during games.  I expect success on a 100% basis after touchdowns and a 75% basis (c’mon, he is a sophomore starting for the first time) from three land (inside the twenty-five, he must be perfect).  Grade C (until Mr. Baron proves his talent).

Return Game:  Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington return kickoffs (may there be few).  Mikah Holder and Damontae Kazee return punts (may there be many).  Coach Bobby  Hauck teaches the special team game to perfection.  Please continue.  Grade A.

Long Snapper (I forget nothing):  Ryan Simmons attempts to fill the substantial shoes of Jeff Overbaugh.  Good luck.  Grade C (see Kicking Game).

The 2016 Schedule.

Game 1, New Hampshire.  Hopefully, 45,000 plus butts in the seats (a Vin Scully line), thanks to the KGB fireworks show.  Yes, we have a horrible history of non-con first games.  I assume nothing other than Aztec starters sitting during the entire fourth quarter.

Game 2, Cal.  How I will grow weary of the week long chant of, deep breath, we-haven’t-beat-a-PAC-12-team-since-the-beginning-of-time crap that will dominate all media.  Hopefully, we beat the Bears at the Q.  This game may actually attract 40,000 fans without the benefit of fireworks.  Candidly, our defense wins or loses this game less the ill timed fumble or interception from our offense.

Game 3, Northern Illinois.  Our first road game.  The Huskies cannot pass which is unfortunate given our Back Five.  We will jam the first seven yards more often than not.  But, think Air Force and do not lose sight of a wandering Northern Illinois receiver twenty yards downfield.

Game 4, South Alabama (after an open weekend).  This game is of concern.  The Jaguars beat us in overtime at the Q last year (in my presence.  Sin).  Our second road game.  Thankfully this game is October first with cooler temperatures and a whole lot less dehydration.  South Alabama recruits kids who are a step below SEC talent, thus fast and quick is the tempo.  Much like Cal, our defense gets the win or the upset loss.

Game 5, UNLV.  A tip of the cap to Coach Tony Sanchez.  I thought his hire would be a disaster given his ascent from high school football to division one football, but no.  He did well in 2015 with little to use.  However, we win our first MW home game.  The Rebels’ defense is horrible.  Look for a minimum of 450+ yards of total offense on behalf of the Aztecs.

Game 6, Fresno State:  At Fresno is never easy.  The Bulldog faithful arrive in great numbers, inebriated and loud.  This year will feature an Aztec pummeling of the Bulldogs. Fresno State fans will flock to the exit during the third quarter.

Game 7, San Jose State:  We return to the Q for our first MWC test.  The Spartans are improving.  A fine coaching staff is turning SJSU into SDSU a-la the Hoke years.  They also return the talented quarterback, Kenny Potter.  This will be a fourth quarter game.  Our advantage is found at the Q.

Game 8, Utah State:  Late October in Logan, Utah.  Will leaves fall or snow fall?  The Aggies defense is a significant step below last year’s squad.  We should (dangerous word) dominate Utah State on both sides of the ball.

Game 9, Hawaii:  Back at the Q.  The year Hawaii is not a road game is a relief given distance and time change.  Not that the multi-colored arc in the sky has any chance of beating us.  Second and third tier Aztecs get a lot of playing time in this game.

Game 10, Nevada:  If we contain the Nevada quarterback Tyler Stewart, we win.  If Mr. Stewart has the proverbial hot hand, this game will be a nail biter.  However, similar to Utah State, the more time the Wolfpack defense spends on the field, the better.

Game 11, Wyoming:  Laramie in November.  Blizzard?  Torrential rain?  40 mph wind?  Wolves?  Or a nice day in the 50s?  Who knows?  Wyoming is an improved team with a stellar coaching staff.  Yes, we win, but not by a wide margin.

Game 12, Colorado State:  We return home.  We win and pick at least two passes from Nick Stevens.

MWC Championship Game, December 3.  We represent the West.  We probably play Boise. If we win, wow.  If we lose, we still go bowling.

Predicted Won-Lost:  I will entertain the sometimes mentioned 12-0.  Strange things happen, so why not a perfect season?  We were perfect three years in the 1960s.  More than likely, 10-2.  Worst case is 8-4.

 

 

SDSU earned the win.  Air Force is never easy, never gives up.  With a mere five seconds remaining and a Hail Mary, until the ball falls to the ground and yellow flags remain in pockets, all was in play.  Thankfully, the ball fell to the ground.

I have never heard such volume and general noise from a crowd of barely 20,000 fans.  Well done each and every Aztec fan.  Why more of us, especially those of us who live in San Diego, do not attend games is a bit of mystery.  Regardless, when the “I Believe We Will Win” chant broke out, so did the momentum.

Consider the following:  Christian Chapman gets his first start and finishes 9/14/0 with a touchdown pass.  Plus, he runs for 32 yards.  Alex Barrett moves to the nose guard spot while Kyle Kelley takes Barrett’s spot.  This game was Kelley’s first start as well.  The conference championship win was consecutive win number 9.  We finish with 10 wins.  We have not lost since September.  The 24 points allowed was the most against a MW opponent the entire 2015 season.  Granted, Air Force is not a passing team, but holding any division one school to 35 yards passing is impressive.  Air Force was a miserable 2/11 in third down conversions.  Consider two of their scores were based on a fumbled punt and what should have been a lost fumble that was kicked a few dozen yards toward their goal line.

Offensively what I liked best was 10-10, 17-17, 24-24.  Our version of determination.  Finally, Donny Hageman settles the score with his 46 yard field goal (I will miss him) and the Aztec defense closes the game.

The Cincinnati Bearcats await.  Our first cousins when uniforms are discussed.  The Hawaii Bowl is perfectly fine with me.  To think of what might have been if we beat South Alabama.  Oh, well.  Spilt milk and all that.  10-3 sits fine with me.

A tip of the helmet to players, coaches and staff.  May Rocky Long coach the Aztecs forever.

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.

 

 

Let’s begin on the offensive side of the ball.

QB:  As “fall” (honestly, any school west of the Rockies should choose a summer or pre-season description rather than any reference to autumn) camp concludes, Maxwell Smith will be named the starting quarterback.  Mr. Smith started for bad Kentucky teams against dauntingly good SEC (the AAA of the NFL) teams.  That experience is beyond valuable.  If Mr. Smith can limit mistakes and quickly grasp the offense of Jeff Horton, a flurry of offense is the result.  Backing Mr. Smith is Christian Chapman and the Oregon transfer Jake Rodrigues.  Thankfully, Nick Bawden is now a fullback.

RB:  The best running back in the MW returns.  Donnel Pumphrey has no peer.  Fine, I admit New Mexico, Wyoming, Fresno State and Colorado State all possess at least one quality running back, but none quite so talented as Mr. Pumphrey.  Chase Price (a human bowling ball seeking immediate contact with linebackers), the injured Marcus Stamp whose depth chart spot will go to Rashaad Penny followed by Pumphrey-sized freshman, Juwan Washington, make for a talented group of running backs.

FB:  Dakota Gordon is entering Chad Young territory.  No higher praise can be offered to any Aztec fullback.

WR:  A point of major weakness in 2014.  Poor route running.  Extreme lack of concentration.  No confidence.  Alas, 2015 Aztec receivers cannot be any worse.  I choose to anticipate renewed vigor and focus given the arrival of the new wide receivers coach, Hunkie Cooper (how can you not have confidence in a man named Hunkie?).  Lloyd Mills (moments of brilliance during 2014), Mikah Holder, Eric Judge and Chase Favreau head a list of credible receivers.  Unlike the Bob Toledo years, look for two, rather than three, receivers at the line of scrimmage.

TE:  All five on the depth chart are listed at 6’5″, thus Maxwell Smith should not have difficulty finding any of them downfield.  If Daniel Brunskill and David Wells each develop a pair of hands, this position could be the surprise of the offense.

OL:  Darrell Greene’s six game suspension puts the damper on three of five returning starters.  Now Nico Siragusa and Pearce Slater are the shining light of return.  Kwayde Miller, Arthur Flores, Robert Craighead more than likely complete the starting five.  Austin Mass probably backs Mr. Flores at the center spot.  Joe Salcedo (redshirt freshman) impresses o-line coach, Mike Schmidt.  This group allows for a successful start or a few games of adjustment as the season begins.

DL:  Jon Sanchez, Christian Heyward and Alex Barrett may be the best d-line in the West of the Mountain West.

LB:  Calvin Munson was the defensive surprise of 2014.  Expect no drop-off in 2015.  If, if, Jake Fely is healthy, he and Mr. Munson will provide and deliver a substantial amount of energy and hurt.  Choose from Jay Henderson, Devante Davis or Ryan Dunn as the other starter.

DB:  What is the greatest benefit of the return of J.J. Whitaker, Damontae Kazee, Malik Smith, Trey Lomax and Na’im McGee?  They all started in 2014.  This lends to a certain calm, satisfying sleep pattern on behalf of Rocky Long.  Coaching these five becomes more of a conversation than instruction.  A great depth rarely found on a college football team.  This group is the strength of the 3-3-5.  Anticipate much more blitzing than any year since Mr. Long arrived on the Mesa.

K:  Donny Hageman and his wonderfully accurate foot return.

P:  Tanner Blain or Joe Weilbacher.  You choose.

LS:  Jeff Overbaugh (and a guaranteed NFL draft selection).

Coaches:  Jeff Horton remains the running backs coach while assuming offensive coordinator duties.  He has edited Bob Toledo’s playbook.  Rather, removed dozens of pages.  Simplicity is the theme.  With a new starting quarterback, I second the idea.  Hunkie Cooper, granted, has zero collegiate experience, but he brings an energy and demand upon the wide receivers not seen in years.  Bobby Hauck, who was seemingly 100-2 at Montana as head coach, should strengthen the special teams.  I find smart of athletic director Jim Sterk to have two ex-head coaches on staff in Mr. Horton and Mr. Hauck.  Whenever Mr. Long decides to retire, in-house replacement may be a convenient and effective theme.  Blaine Morgan enters year one as SDSU quarterbacks coach.  As a former Air Force Cadet quarterback, anticipate Mr. Morgan grooming a feet-don’t-fail-me-now option when all else fails with Aztec quarterbacks.  Media folks love to swoon over Mr. Long’s unique 3-3-5 alignment, but without a quality defensive coaching staff, a 3-3-5 equals 0.  Coaches Lewis (d-line), Arnett (linebackers), White (cornerbacks) and Gonzales (safeties) deserve a great deal of credit and note on behalf of a superb 2014 defensive effort that was nationally ranked.  Look for even greater defensive heights in 2015.

2015 Schedule:  Beginning the season against USD is less than ideal, but a game is a game.  At Cal follows.  An immediate test to determine the real ability of the Aztec defense.  South Alabama is the second home game.  The Jags recruit kids thought to be a step below SEC ability.  This game must find a prepared Aztec squad or this is a not so surprising loss.  Penn State at Happy Valley follows.  I’m predicting an Aztec win (at last) over a legendary football program.  Fresno State (and their impressive band of alumni travelers) opens MWC play at the Q.  Two road games follow:  at Hawaii and at San Jose State.  The Aztecs return home for the always challenging Aggies of Utah State.  A Halloween game at Fort Collins may bring heavy snow, high winds or a pleasant evening.  Wyoming, at UNLV and Nevada finish the 2015 season.  Since two of three are at the Q, opportunity exists to right any prior disappointment.  Worst case:  7-5.  Best case:  10-2.

Final thoughts:  Will 2015 finally yield a win over a PAC-12 school (Cal) or nationally recognized legend (Penn State)?  Will Donnel Pumphrey rush for a minimum of 100 yards each game?  Is Jeff Horton’s offensive scheme simple enough or too simple?  Does an Aztec defense returning eight defensive starters smash opposing offenses or suffer from a case of overconfidence?  As always, stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

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.