Posts Tagged ‘SDSU football’

Hello.

The MWC is proceeding with football. Eight games worth. Or there about depending on the school and non-con games secured. Yes, I find doubtful the chance to play eight games without cancellation of at least one, if not two, as we enter flu season coupled with our pandemic. Yet, I must pontificate (I’m an Aztec football junkie) on the SDSU schedule.

UNLV at home (home is Carson this year and 2021) is a win, but by no means a gimme. The new Rebel coach, Marcus Arroyo, is a former U of Ducks offensive co-coordinator. UNLV will stretch the field. Our defensive back five will be busy defending the pass and I expect many a deflection, tip and interception to the detriment of UNLV.

Utah State at Logan on Halloween. A sign? No, just another disappointing future memory for the majority of trick or treaters denied candy by weather and virus. A difficult road game, but the Aztec offense proves too much for the Aggies.

San Jose State football moved to Humboldt State for practice purposes. Practicing 300+ miles from home is chock-full of start, stop, start, stop depending on what is provided, forgotten and misplaced. The last development the improving Spartans need is a disjointed effort to prepare for the season. The Aztecs overwhelm San Jose State in a painful to watch romp (painful for the good people of San Jose).

Hawaii follows the Spartans. The same result. As mentioned in my summer post, Todd Graham is not the right guy for the job in paradise. The Hawaii defense is torched in Carson.

The Wolf Pack at Reno goes to the final possession. Reno in late November features some sort of challenging weather. Take your combination of wind, rain, snow, freezing temparture and/or hail. While watching the game on the tube/phone, wear a jacket and hat. Pretend empathy.

Fresno State at Fresno without 40,000 screaming, beer fueled fans will be an advantage to SDSU. Game six for both teams will shine the glare on a Bulldog squad lurching, struggling and waiting for 2021. The Aztec defense pummels the Fresno State offense.

Colorado State . . . oh, the missteps leading to the season. First, as I stated in my MWC preview, hiring Steve Addazio was a dumbass decision. Second, the “investigation” conducted by the university into various claims of racism and violations of established state/county C-19 health codes launches the Rams into a murky, disappointing, um, shit show, no, no, dumpster fire of a season. The only trip and slip variable for the Aztecs is December 5th in Fort Collins. As Reno (and so many other MWC locations), the weather will play havoc on sensible play calling, but the Aztecs prevail.

Finally, Provo. Why? Yeah, I know finding available teams in 2020 is north of difficult, but why these guys? Why not any other team west of the Rockies? Yeah, yeah, bowl game eligibility consideration of schedule, blah, blah, blah. I should not blah reality, but I remain flummoxed by J.D. Wicker’s decision. Regardless, we beat these guys and the refs.

Best case: 7-1. Worst case: 5-3.

Go, Aztecs.

SDSU Football, 2020: Update

Posted: September 20, 2020 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

We have movement. North. A joke. C’mon.

Several items to address. First, the demolition of the Murph/Q/SDCCU stadium sooner rather than later is a benefit given the late start to the entire SDSU Mission Valley project. April, 2020 was the original escrow closing date. The reality of San Diego real estate development pushed that date to early August, 2020. Precious time was lost. Removing thousands of tons of concrete demands no delay. Yet, here we stand. Working around the circular monster of the stadium would have created a difficult work space for all contractors involved. Removing said beast creates a literal and physical open area for bulldozers, backhoes, trucks, cranes and the rest to move in a direct line rather than the “oops, pardon me, excuse me” routine of running north and south of the stadium.

The choice of Carson and Dignity Health Sports Park was the nearest suitable facility available. Let me quickly disperse the idiots who claim this choice to be anything but logical. The Aztecs are not the Chargers. Drop that analogy/comparison. ’tis nonsense. Cal State campuses do not move. Cal State universities are California tax funded (somewhat) entities rooted in legislative law. Comparing SDSU with an NFL franchise indicates that the moron making the argument may as well compare a mom and pop taco stand with Taco Bell. Continuing withe idea that remaining somewhere, or anywhere, in San Diego offers a better outcome than 100 miles north. Where? Name the juco football stadium that matches the physical display of a professional soccer and part-time football stadium? You mention the USD football stadium? USD offers a competing football calendar. Plus, I do not recall any kind offer made. Consider the reality that during this time of C-19, butts in the seats are a non-starter. If you do not believe me, turn on the tube and watch MLB, NBA, NHL or NFL. Hmm. Cardboard cutouts. Large stuffed animals. The occasional human. Yep, that’s the crowd. Assume SDCCU stands. Who sits in the upper deck? A toughie. Um, nobody. The remaining two decks seat and separate those willing to attend Aztec home games. We averaged 29,000 +/- attendance in 2019. Cut that by half or more. At best. Spread 14,500 people in the cave. C-CBS and ESPN will not be impressed. Do note that 14,500 fans is a best case, thus unlikely, result. Dignity Health Care Park has a maximum occupancy of 27,000, which offers plenty of room for the Aztec faithful allowed and/or willing to attend a football game during a pandemic. The curious and bored of greater Los Angeles can drop by, watch the game and enjoy a scoreboard worthy of a division one football team rather than a scoreboard that offers home/visitor and time remaining with a few burned out light bulbs. Moths not included.

Money. Yes, SDSU saves a bundle. Do compare the cost of busing north 100 miles a maximum of five trips (ten if we play consecutive seasons) with an annual minimum bill of $5 million dollars (the city of San Diego averaged a million a month) for the upkeep of SDCCU. Who wants the chance of crumbling concrete to fall during a game (or at anytime)? The escalator malfunctions during a game. Can you hear the bitching and moaning from the same crowd bitching and moaning about the move to Carson? The lights blew out a few years ago during game time. Embarrassing. You want to roll the dice on a crumbling interior infrastructure, again? Moving to Carson for one year avoids all the aforementioned.

Speaking of one year, the bleaters need to let that calendar rest for a moment. Maybe an hour. Some people are slow. What exactly do Aztec fans miss? Refer to the seating scenario above. How many Aztec fans scoot home at halftime. A great many. Given the pandemic, I dare to count the number of Aztec fans who will not board the trolley to travel to the stadium. If two “seasons” of football are played inside twelve months at a non-San Diego location, what weight does that carry? The fact that we can possibly play football is enough satisfaction. Until the new stadium is complete, anywhere makes a fine short-term rental (without the 24/7 party).

Do remember, the new stadium (speaking in strictly football terms) is the goal. Placing any obstacle in the way of constructing the stadium and all associated with said construction is puzzling at best and obviously halfwitted. Getting the hell out of the way is the best choice. The end result is a stadium that media and fans will rave about. Best stadium on the West Coast. Best stadium you will not find in the PAC-12. SDSU will be the shining site star of college football. Imagine the development in sudden consideration of San Diego county and southern California kids who would otherwise refuse the Aztec coaching staff. Long term is the best outlook.

Finally, during the Brady Hoke media meet, I heard somebody by the name of Mark ask Mr. Hoke about the players becoming “political pawns” in the decision not to play football as scheduled. I’m guessing Mark is Mark Zeigler of the Tribune. Mr. Zeigler needs to keep his politics out of SDSU football. Coloring a health and financial decision as a politically based demon is the thought of an oaf with too much time on his hands who views conspiracy websites with increasing frequency. Do shut up, Mr. Zeigler.

As always, go Aztecs.

Candidly, Rocky ranks with Don Coryell.  He was better than Claude Gilbert.  Rocky’s nine years at San Diego State produced an overall record of 81 – 38 (.681) and MWC record of 51 – 20 (.718).  None of his Aztec teams finished with an overall .500 record or losing record.  Only once in MWC play was .500 the result (4 – 4 during 2018).  He won 10 games twice (2017 and 2019).  He won 11 games twice (2015 and 2016).  Over a three year period, his Aztec teams posted a total of 32 wins.  Not bad for a head coach with the soul of a defensive coordinator.

Bowl game appearances became the norm rather than the exception during Rocky’s tenure at San Diego State.  Nine seasons produced nine bowls.  Sure some games were as disappointing as a pair of socks on Christmas morning.  Other games (the wins) were built for Aztecs fans’ memories:  Stomping Buffalo on a frigid night in Boise (49 – 24); ruining Cincinnati’s Hawaiian vacation (42 – 7); my personal favorite was the complete dismantling of Houston (34 -10.  In my not so humble opinion the best Aztec effort on both sides of the ball . . . ever) and the good-bye, Rocky game against Central Michigan (48 – 11).

Let’s dive a bit deeper.

Rocky’s defenses gave away a season average of 30+ points once (31.7 in 2013).  2011’s defense was the next “worse”:  25.8 points allowed per game.  Two teams (2016 and 2017) allowed an identical 20.2.  His best defenses were 2014 (19.8), 2015 (16.4) and an absolutely crushing 12.7 in 2019.  His speciality was stuffing the run.  Opponents averaged barely 72 rushing yards per game in 2019.  Consider, that total is shy of 3/4s of a football field.  2018’s defense allowed 94.5 rushing yards per game (still a tad shy of an entire field and definitely end-zone free).  The SDSU defenses from 2015 – 2017 allowed 111.2, 111.9 and 110.4 rushing yards per game respectively.  From 2015 to 2019, Aztec rushing defense was rated in the top 5 for three years (2015, 2018, 2019), top 10 for one year (2017) and 11th overall in 2016.

During Rocky’s nine years, the offense wasn’t reminiscent of past glory (Coryell and Gilbert), but the Aztecs put the ball in the end zone and between the uprights often enough to generate those win percentages of .681 and .718.  Plus, we watched the impressive skill sets of Ronnie Hillman, Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny running this way and that way, over, under and through to great effect.  Speaking of those fine running backs (and not mentioned other running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends), 7 of Rocky’s 9 years featured offenses that scored between 25 points and 35 points.  Sure his final two years I dare not use the word “featured” to describe the Aztec offense.  Rather, “cringe worthy”, “red zone reluctant” and “pathetic” best portray the SDSU offensive efforts of 2018 and 2019.  Then again, who is perfect?

Rocky’s worst finish in MWC play was his first year (2011) as head coach, a seemingly unpromising 4th.  None of his Aztec teams finished 4th again.  Rocky’s teams finished first or tied for first five seasons including consecutive MWC championships in 2015 and 2016.  SDSU finished second in 2013 and 2017.  Third once in 2018.

Finally, his head coaching efforts against the infamous power-5 resulted in an overall record of 6-9.  His 2011 squad knocked off Washington State in 2011, then promptly lost the next eight non-conference games against p-5 schools.  However, from 2016 to 2019, his Aztec teams went 5-1 against the big boys.  PAC-12 games, always of note given our California residency, resulted in a 6-5 record which included the aforementioned run of 5-1.

The days of his souring media demeanor as the season progressed will be missed.  By mid-October, his press conferences (pre or post) featured a man who would rather be in his dentist’s chair than speaking to a writer from any media outlet.  His perpetual folded arms while roaming the sidelines represented a coach who simply wanted the last two minutes of the game to grind out another victory.  His back turned to all things offense during timeouts was the sign of extreme confidence in not only his offensive coordinator, but also his entire offensive coaching staff.  Much like a man lost in a kitchen who loves to eat.

Rocky Long returns to the University of New Mexico in 2020.  How long he stays, who knows?  He can always come back to the beach and offer an idea or two.

 

 

 

Granted, 10-3 was an impressive end to the 2019 season.  But, as I prepare to moan, groan and bitch, 5-3 in Mountain West play was disappointing, nay, anemic.

What to do?  What to do?

I complained about the Aztec offense, or lack thereof, most every post during 2019.  Less the New Mexico State and San Jose State games, SDSU’s offense resembled an old man attempting to dodge oncoming skateboarders on the boardwalk.

Rocky chose 2019 as the year of the shotgun offense.  We resembled a squirt gun all to often in 2019.  The most points scored, less the New Mexico Bowl, was 31 (New Mexico State).  The SDSU offense scored 20 or less points in seven of thirteen games.  Four games featured the dismal frustration of less than 15 points.  Our offense was passed out face down in the glare of Saturday night lights.  Not that the opposition defense was near as good as the Aztec defense.  Was not the case.  Rather, our offense was inept.

What to do?

First, Jeff Horton needs to go.  Rocky needs a shot gun offensive coordinator.  Mr. Horton is and will always be a smash-mouth, pound and ground man, and rightfully so.  His Aztec offenses, less the last two years, were superb.  We beat opposing defenses into dust and spit.  Pound and ground does not morph into a pass oriented offense with ease, and certainly not with the same man directing the action.  Mr. Horton’s 2018 offense averaged 20.6 points per game.  2019 “jumped” to 21.2 points per game.  Zzzz material.  One final bit of proof is 19/44 in the red zone.  Well below 50% when presented the opportunity to score six.

The root of this unimpressive result is the Aztec offensive line.  Offensive line coach Mike Schmidt must follow his offensive coordinator out the door.  The offensive line’s performance not only this year, but 2018 as well, has not met past performance.  Pass protection was above average, but run blocking was far too horizontal.  3.4 yards per carry is barely worth the bother.  Twelve rushing touchdowns was less than one per game.  Rare was the sight of an Aztec offensive lineman eight yards downfield looking for a smash moment involving either a linebacker or defensive back.

SDSU football has the chance to enter a new stadium in 2022 (thereabout) with an impressive, winning football team on both sides of the ball.  Maintaining the coaching status quo will whiff on that opportunity.  Fix the Aztec offense.