Posts Tagged ‘San Jose State’

I don’t know if we are lucky or good.  Maybe a bit of both.  Nevertheless, this game was heavy to the yuck factor.

Thank God for John Barron.  The game winner from 51 yards out (or 52 depending who you listen to) was the perfect final score to a game featuring incompetent offense.  The Aztec offensive line was marginal.  Far too much SJSU pressure was delivered to Ryan Agnew.  He scrambled like eggs on a Saturday morning.  The Spartan defense was camped in the Aztec backfield causing lost yards snap after snap on behalf of Chase Jasmin, Chance Bell and Kaegun Williams (don’t fumble and you get to play).  Ryan Agnew was, again, pedestrian.  His 7/11 featured a miraculous 12.3 yards per catch.  How is that possible?

The Aztec defense saved the night.  Especially holding San Jose State on 4th and 2 deep in the fourth quarter.  Tariq Thompson’s interception highlight was the 41 yards he advanced the ball.  SJSU averaged 1.8 yards per rush and registered only 295 total yards for the evening.  Josh Love posted the most ineffective 26/36 effort of any quarterback this season.  All for a paltry 215 yards passing.  Without a touchdown.  If Ryan Agnew or Christian Chapman ever threw the ball 36 times in a game, I would assume that Jeff Horton was not on the field.

A tip of the hat to Brandon Heicklen averaging 41.8 yards per punt.  Sorely needed and thank you.

Congrats to Damon Moore, Tayler Hawkins, Connor Mitchell, Chance Bell (I like what I see.  He should be “the guy” until Juwan Washington returns) and Daniel Bellinger logging minutes that mattered at game’s end.

6-1/3-0.  Bowl eligible.  Rocky coaches his 100th game as a head coach.  And wins.  Courtesy of a kicker he actually talks to on the sidelines.

“Can you make a fifty harder?”

“Sure.”

“Let’ go.”

Go, Aztecs.

 

 

At last, offense!  The ball journeyed to the end zone more than three occasions.  Thank you, Jeff Horton.  I know he called for a pass on the first play of the game to shame me.  Nice try.  I continue to call for more than 18 passing attempts from Christian Chapman.  I want to see 200+ yards from Mr. Chapman.  I’m greedy.

Speaking of greedy, the Aztec defense is phenomenal.  San Jose is team #2 without a touchdown against the Red and Black.  Three consecutive games result in a total of 13 points by UNLV, Fresno State and San Jose State.  Impressive.  Nine tackles for loss including five sacks against the Spartans (whose offense was rather spartan.  Get it?).  209 yards allowed (San Jose rushed for less than 70 yards).  Incredible.

Also incredible in these days of players running rampant with bad judgment and at times engaging in criminal behavior (yeah, I’m talking about you, Baylor University), Rocky means what he says and says what he means as he suspended PRIOR to the San Jose game, Derrick Babiash, Billy Vaughn, Jr. and Fred Melifonwu.  Rare air for a division one coach of any sport.  Hats off to Kalan Montgomery for taking Babiash’s spot without notice.

I applaud San Jose State’s defense for “holding” Donnel Pumphrey to 135 yards.  I’m not mocking the Spartans.  Truly, they did a fine job of containing Donnel, as much as Donnel can be contained.  The flip side is Rashaad Penny averaged 11.7 yards per carry.  Can’t stop everybody.

Finally, I was pleased to see second, third and fourth level guys on the field with nine minutes remaining.  Valuable experience for Jeff Clay, Myles Cheatum, Troy Cassidy, Trenton Thompson, Kyahva Tezino, Kevin Walcott, Sam Tai, Chad Woolsey, Ryan Agnew, Ryan Simmons, Daishawn Dixon and Julian Rochelin.

6-1/3-0.

 

Mountain Division

Boise State:  Lots to like about the Broncos.  Sophomore Brett Rypien will be a top-10 qb by his senior year.  Devan Demas and Ryan Wolpin will both enjoy a great many more rushing attempts in 2016.  3 of the top 5 receivers return (okay, one of the departed was a running back), thus Mr. Rypien will dutifully and effectively throw downfield to great effect.  Matching last year’s total of 508 points may not be a stretch for Boise in 2016.

Defensively, I anticipate slippage.  Boise will not maintain last year’s 318.3 ypg nor the impressive and mere 20.2 points per game.  Only 13 of the top 20 tacklers return.  True, while not a recipe for disaster, replacing the departed 7 may prove a challenge.

Air Force:  Nate Romine assumes the starting qb role.  Mr. Romine averaged a paltry 47.7 passing yards per game in 2015.  His completion rate was a pitiful 38.9%.  Air Force fans will choose to believe improvement awaits.  However, the ever present irony of Air Force’s seemingly perpetual inability to throw a football downfield is always balanced with their traditional above average running game.  This year they return four of 2015’s top five rushers.  Amazingly, last year’s rushing average of 319 yards per game could increase notably if Mr. Romine struggles with hurling the football in a forward manner.

The defense should improve upon last year’s 355 total yards per game.  16 of the top 20 tacklers return including 9 of their top 10.  Lots of ouch awaits opponents.

Utah State:  Kent Myers returns as the starting qb.  Since Chuckie Keeton is gone, Mr. Myers no longer needs to worry about sharing the position.  However, if Mr. Myers continues to run the football in 2016 as often as last year (85 carries, number three on the team), he may be subject to the injury riddled existence of Mr. Keeton.  Devante Mays and LaJuan Hunt return to run the football proper.  Mr. Mays (5.9 ypc) is the more effective of the two.  However, Mr. Hunt was tied for the number two spot on the receiving list in 2015.  Sadly, that was a total of only 27 catches.  Andrew Rodriguez and Wyatt Houston are the most productive returning receivers.

The defensive result of 2016 could be ugly enough to generate a contest for last place in the Mountain with Colorado State.  Only 2 of the top 10 tacklers return and only 9 of the top 20 overall return.  If the Aggies can’t tackle, last year’s 152 rushing yards per game and 180.5 passing yards per game will increase significantly on behalf of their competition.

New Mexico:  Lamar Jordan and Austin Apodaca return.  Who, oh who, will be the starting quarterback?  Too much time was shared last year.  Confusion reigned?  Only the Lobos know.  I am a Lamar Jordan fan (no offense to Mr. Apodaca).  He provides an element of surprise and is quick on his feet (perhaps too quick given his 147 rushing attempts compared to 118 passing attempts).  The running game features the return of last year’s number 2, 4 and 5 backs.  However, the returning receiving corps features only Dameon Gamblin (last year’s number one).  The rest are gone.  Stretching the field on behalf of Mr.Jordan and Mr. Apodaca will be a struggle.

The defense may be the difference between finishing behind Utah State or in front.  The Lobos return 15 of their top 20 tacklers.  Far more than the Aggies measly 9 of 20.  Included in the 15 of 20 is 8 of their top 10.  Last year New Mexico gave up 437.6 ypg.  Anticipate a significant drop in 2016.

Wyoming:  Gasp!  I’m not predicting a last place finish in the Mountain.  Take that, mavens.  Anyway,  the Cowboys challenge will be Nick Smith improving his numbers to resemble those of the departed Cameron Coffman.  Mr. Smith also needs to reduce his rushing attempts of 45 from 2015 by at least a third (I try to be realistic) and focus more on his receivers.  Speaking of which, his returning receiving corps feature the top four from last year.  If Mr. Smith can throw downfield with confidence, Wyoming will surprise.  Brian Hill and Shaun Wick return as the dasher and bruiser, but look for Kellen Overstreet to spend significant time in the backfield with Mr. Hill.

As New Mexico, 15 of the top 20 Cowboy tacklers return.  9 of the top 10 return.  If the offense offers a late lead, look for Wyoming to upset more than once . . . or twice.

Colorado State:  Why a last place finish in the Mountain division?  Because Nick Stevens throws too many interceptions.  Twelve interceptions dilutes twenty-one touchdowns.  3 of the top 5 receivers are gone (one of the two top returning “receivers” is the running back Dalyn Dawkins).  Speaking of Mr. Dawkins (5.1 ypc), he and Izzy Matthews (6.1 ypc) make for an impactful running game.  In addition to Mr. Stevens tendency to throw errant passes, only one true receiver, Xavier Williams, of the top five returns.  The Rams may run more than desired.

The defense suffers from losing half of last year’s top 20 tacklers.  CSU gave up 390.5 ypg last year.  This year, 400+ is the likely result.  Giving up 30+ points on average is an ugliness to consider as well.  Could be a long year in the Rams’ impressive new stadium.

West Division

San Diego State:  This year’s media darling.  Such a development makes me cautious and apprehensive knowing Aztec football history.  However, a great deal of talent returns on both sides of the ball.  Donnel Pumphrey is silly good.  If he stays healthy, he will annihilate Marshall Faulk’s rushing records at SDSU.  Rashaad Penny will spend more time in the backfield with Mr. Pumphrey.  He is also a considerable talent.  Christian Chapman will handle the quarterback duties.  As long as he sticks to the offensive script, all is well.  The number 1, 2 and 4 receivers from 2015 return.

16 of the top 20 tacklers return.  However, 2 of last year’s starting 3 defensive linemen must be replaced in Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 scheme.  The 5 of the 3-3-5 have years of experience and is a senior dominated group.  Opposing quarterbacks will find no joy staring into the face of chaos.

San Jose State:  The Spartans feature one of the two best returning qbs in the West.  Kenny Potter completed 67% of his passes last year and threw only 7 interceptions in 270 attempts.  The number 1, 3 and 5 receivers return from last year.  Mr. Potter will keep them busy.  However, Mr. Potter needs to drastically reduce his 114 rushing attempts or he may find an unpleasant, angry linebacker guiding him to the ground one too many times.  Tucker Thomas and Malik Roberson should see a sizable increase in rushing attempts in an effort to establish an actual running game.

The defense will be solid and should reduce last year’s 358.5 ypg especially the 200.8 rushing yards there within.  However, if the Spartan defense disappoints, then they slip to a third place finish in the West.

Nevada:  Nevada holds the other top returning quarterback in the West.  Tyler Stewart will determine the success of the Wolfpack.  If he can improve upon last year’s 164.5 passing yards per game, Nevada will give San Jose State a run for second place.  He has the top four receivers from 2015 returning along with the number one running back.  However, proven back up at the quarterback and running back positions is unavailable (or unknown.  Which ever you prefer).  A key injury will be painful.

The defense will likely be anemic.  A mere 11 or the top 20 tacklers return including only 4 of the top 10.  The 405.4 ypg will increase in 2016.  Good luck to the Wolfpack offense as they hope to keep their defense off the field.

Fresno State:  Could be a long year for the Bulldog faithful.  They lose a massive section of last year’s offense.  If they struggle to score, UNLV could finish in front of them.  If they struggle to score, coaching changes will occur.  Whomever wins the quarterback spot from the trio of Kilton Anderson (poor 2015 numbers under the proof of 157 passing attempts), Chason Virgil or Ford Childress will need to find the top 3 receivers returning from last year’s team on a regular basis if this squad wants to score.  Much like the qb spot, the running back position is full of doubt and the unknown.  If the qb position struggles and the running game is inconsistent, Fresno State fans will be in for a long year.

The defense should at least play near last year’s disappointing level.  The Fresno State defense gave up in excess of 200 yards in both rushing and passing each game.  14 of last year’s top 20 tacklers return, though they lost numbers 1, 3, 5 and 7 in the top 10.  Good luck.

UNLV:  I criticized the hiring of Tony Sanchez from the high school ranks to coach a division one football program, and was I wrong.  Mr. Sanchez did a fine job during his first year.  I look for improvement in year two.  If he had a better returning quarterback, I would choose the Rebels over the Bulldogs, but ’tis not the case.  Throwing the ball downfield to good effect will be a struggle.  Thankfully, UNLV returns last year’s number 2 and 3 rushers.  The number 4 rusher returns as well, but he’s the returning qb, Kurt Palandech.

Much like Fresno State, if their defense does no more harm than last year, be thankful.  Only 13 of their top 20 tacklers return.  Let’s say lots of opportunity awaits those who did not play much last year.

Hawaii:  So much is wrong, but at least they fired Norm Chow.  Now this team has a chance to get better.  Yet, nothing will be easy.  Ikaika Woolsey returns after a disappointing 2015. He completed a mere 49% of his passes and averaged not quite 70 yards passing per game. The good news is the top three running backs and receivers return for 2016.  If Mr. Woolsey improves or is replaced, hope lingers for the Hawaii offense.

The returning defense will be challenged all season long.  3 of the top 10 tacklers return and only 6 of the next 10 return.  Hawaii gave away 35.6 points per game last year.  Hope for the same this year and enjoy the relief.  Gonna be a long year in paradise in 2016.

 

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.

 

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).