Aztecs Football Thread

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Gill Man

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GO AZTECS!!!!!!!!
 
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SDRay

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From what I have read the new spread formation is working well.

I look forward to a bounce back year.
Aztecs spring football: Wide receivers & spread formation; surgery for six players

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/aztecs/story/2019-03-27/sdsu-football-aztecs-wide-receivers-spread-formation-surgery

When news came that San Diego State’s offense would go to a spread formation for the 2019 season, there was no happier group than SDSU’s wide receivers and no happier staff member than their position coach, Hunkie Cooper.
“First and foremost it will help me in recruiting,” Cooper said after practice this week. “(We’ll) take some guys that we couldn’t take with the 21 personnel stuff (two running backs formation) we were doing. You’ve still got to be tough. You’ve still got to be physical. You’ve still got to be able to win against man coverage and protect the football.”
On the field, Cooper expects his young receivers group — nine of the 12 receivers are redshirt freshmen and sophomores — to be more comfortable in the spread. “This is what they’re used to,” he said. “They’re used to being in the spread. They’re used to looking to the sideline and changing plays and checking plays. It’s their wheelhouse.
“It gives us more energy in the (wide receivers’) room and gives us something they’ve experienced before, so progress will be more rapid.”

Tight end Kahale Warring led SDSU in receptions (31) last season. Wide receivers Fred Trevillion and Ethan Dedeaux were next with 22 catches apiece, followed by Tim Wilson Jr., with 19. No other receiver had more than nine receptions.
Trevillion, a senior last season, is the only receiver who is not returning this year. His deep-threat capabilities will need to be replaced.
Moving to the front of the receivers group are 6-foot-2 Kobe Smith (9 catches, 113 yards in 2018) and 6-4 Elijah Kothe (7 catches, 78 yards), a pair of sophomores who showed enough promise last year that they were not redshirted.
Cooper has been impressed by their continued progress. Smith, in fact, had a standout performance in last week’s Spring Game, with four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.

Kothe, who missed a week of spring practice after suffering a concussion, is among the most sure-handed receivers the Aztecs have had in years.
“Both of those guys came in together, they worked together, have high GPAs and they love what they do,” Cooper said. “I think that gives you the best opportunity to have success when you have guys who love what they do and want to be here.
“They’re low maintenance guys. You don’t have to worry about them socially doing dumb things and that’s what you want.”
Cooper said that if the Aztecs had a game today, then Smith, Kothe and Dedeaux, who is also a sophomore and emerged last season as a reliable target, would be his starting receivers.
Junior Isiah Macklin and sophomores BJ Busbee and Isaiah Richardson would be in the mix as well and redshirt freshman Jesse Matthews also could get an opportunity.
Macklin suffered a shoulder injury midway through spring practice, but played in Saturday’s Spring Game before having surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
“He didn’t ask to be taken out of spring ball,” Cooper said. “He wanted to play in the spring game. That tells me where his mind’s at. He wanted to be here. He finished it up and then he went and had surgery. That’s the one thing he said, ‘Coach, I don’t want to set myself back.’ ”
Added Cooper: “We’re finally seeing the things I thought we could see with him, making contested catches on jump balls, the physical part of it, starting to put his face on people.”
A name noticeably absent from those Cooper mentioned was Wilson. A lingering foot problem, which bothered Wilson late in the regular season and required offseason surgery, has prevented the junior from participating in spring practice.
“I try to focus on who’s here,” Cooper said when asked about Wilson. “I’m not in the medical profession. All I know is after the (Frisco Bowl in December) he was running and he was healthy and we ain’t played a game since then.
“So from my old school mentality and mind set, I thought he should have been here for spring ball. That’s where you get the most opportunity to grow, especially when you missed a couple of games during the season. You can’t get this back.”
Wilson also had back and rib injuries last season, although he still played in 11 of 13 games. “He’s got a great skill set and he’s really fast,” Cooper said. “But at the end of the day, if he’s not durable, I can’t use him. I can’t build a depth chart on maybes. “If he gets healthy and he makes it and he comes to work and brings something to the unit, then he will have an opportunity to play.”
Surgery for several players
Two Aztecs players had surgery on Monday and four more were scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday, according to SDSU head coach Rocky Long.
Macklin was joined Monday by defensive lineman Josh Bringuel, who had reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
Bringuel was injured two weeks ago during a scrimmage, but had to wait until swelling subsided before having the procedure.
Wednesday’s surgeries, all for various shoulder injuries, include defensive lineman Connor Mitchell, linebacker Seyddrick Lakalaka, cornerback Luq Barcoo and Dedeaux.
Bringuel will require 8-10 months for recovery for an injury that damaged three different ligaments, but Long said the other players should be healed in time to participate in the team’s lifting and conditioning program in June.
What determines whether to have surgery before or after spring practice?
“It’s a doctor’s choice,” Long said. “If he doesn’t think they can go through practice with it, he does it as early as he can. If he does think they can go through practice with it, then he leaves it up to them.
“Some kids choose to go through practice and some kids don’t.”
Junior offensive lineman Keith Ismael had shoulder surgery during the offseason, but should be out of a sling within the next two weeks and be able to begin rehab.
Junior offensive lineman Zach Thomas, who had knee reconstruction surgery last fall, was not cleared for spring practice but did do conditioning on the field and is expected to be cleared before fall camp.
 
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SDRay

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5 questions with ... Aztecs RB Juwan Washington


San Diego State running back Juwan Washington, like his SDSU teammates, is all too eager to put last season behind him.
Injuries to Washington added to the insult of the Aztecs finishing 7-6 in 2018 after a 6-1 start.
Washington entered last season with an eye on joining D.J. Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny as SDSU’s third straight 2,000-yard rushing back. He was nearly on pace early, leading the nation with 151 yards a game rushing after three games.
But it all went awry when a fractured clavicle sidelined Washington for nearly five full games in midseason.
Washington needed 130 yards against Ohio in the Frisco Bowl to extend SDSU’s streak of 1,000-yard running backs to nine straight seasons. He reached the milestone with a 5-yard run midway through the fourth quarter that gave him 1,002 yards. But — and how appropriate was this the way things went in the 27-0 loss? — Washington got one more carry on the final drive. It went for a 3-yard loss — leaving him with 999 yards.
Washington, a preseason all-Mountain West selection, is focused on the future as SDSU opens fall camp Friday. Here are five questions with the senior from Fort Worth, Texas:
Practice, especially fall camp, can be a grind, but you seem to be the life of the party, dancing, singing and cracking wise with your teammates during workouts. Where does that enthusiasm come from?
It’s just to keep the energy high. You never want to be out there wishing you weren’t out there, so you might as well make the best of it.
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You can’t change it, so if you keep your energy high, it helps in practice. You’re not worried about being tired. You’re thinking about something else.
And it kind of helps the other guys, too. If they see you happy and excited, then it might help them out when they’re having a tough practice.
Did finishing with 999 yards instead of reaching 1,000 stick with very long you after the season ended?
It didn’t stick with me too much because it was the last game of the season, so you’re not really focused on what happened too much. You just want to move forward, especially the way we ended last year. I just kind of left that in the past. It leaves a lot of room for improvement. I just want to get better.
What’s your take on the new spread formation?
I think it’s going to create a lot more big plays. Last year, our biggest thing was (lack of) big plays.
That’s what we made a lot more of in the past. Big plays. It was two- or three-play drives instead of long drives, 10-play drives. A lot of times when we score it’s not going to be a long drive. That’s rare in football to have a long drive, so big plays play a big part of that.
We’ve got to break off more big plays, you know, finishing and making passes down field. We kind of showed glimpses of that last season. We’ve got to do it more consistently.
Coach Rocky Long said it still will be a run-first offense. Do you expect to get 25 carries a game this season (he averaged 22 last year)?
I’m not sure. It really depends on how the game goes. A lot of games it’s going to be where we need to throw it more and a lot of games where we need to run it more. It really depends on how the situation goes that day.
Coach has been talking about getting the running backs out more (in the passing game) and making opportunities in different ways than normal, so that’s going to be good for us.
Do you expect to play special teams (he has three kick return TDs in his career) in addition to your responsibilities at running back?
I’ve liked that since I’ve been here, getting to be in on special teams.
That’s a big momentum switch, if you can make a big play on special teams. I remember when we had both Rashaad and me back there, we had two kickoff returners with a touchdown in the game.
We need to get back to that. That’s one thing we kind of fell off on last year, making big special teams plays. We’ve shown glimpses of that, too. We’ve just got to stay consistent.
I’ll do as much as I can. It just depends on what Coach Long will let me do. Hopefully, he will let me catch a few punts (in addition to kickoff returns).
 

SDRay

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Aztecs offense has its struggles in first fall scrimmage


San Diego State spent seemingly half Saturday night’s scrimmage in the red zone.
It wasn’t because SDSU’s offense was particularly productive. It was because officials hired to work the scrimmage were instructed to keep placing the football at the 20-yard line.
The red zone is a point of emphasis — for both the offense and defense — in fall camp following the Aztecs’ struggles there last season on both sides of the ball.
The offense produced just one touchdown on the evening, so, apparently, the defense is ahead of the offense.
“We’ve got the same team out here,” SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. “Maybe it wasn’t that the offense didn’t play good but that the defense did play good. ... Got a long way to go. You always anticipate the first scrimmage is going to be ragged, and that’s what it was.”
SDSU ranked 94th in the nation (out of 129 teams) last season in red zone offense and 107th in the nation in red zone defense. This, after ranking 72nd and 19th, respectively, in those categories the previous season.
The Aztecs ranked 11th out of 12 teams in the Mountain West in both categories. It was especially disconcerting for a defense that was No. 1 in the conference in the red zone a year earlier.
So that sets the scene for all the red zone work.
Six trips there produced a missed 41-yard field goal, makes from 37, 32 and 32 yards a 17-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Jordan Byrd.
Oh, and a 95-yard interception return by junior safety Tayler Hawkins for a touchdown. Quarterback Ryan Agnew impressively gave chase for 75 yards and seemed to be closing the gap before Hawkins shook him with a zig-zag maneuver 10 yards from the end zone.
The 16 points were fewer than the Aztecs would prefer to produce given such opportunities.
Blame the offense or compliment the defense? A little of both, actually.
Failed third-down passes, a sack, a bad snap and offensive penalties were part of the problem, although mixing and matching of personnel — especially at quarterback — throughout the exercise didn’t help matters.
Hawkins’ score came after plucking a deflected end zone pass out of the air at the 5-yard line. Senior safety Kyree Woods had the defense’s other big play, knocking away a third-down pass in the end zone.
There was an upside to the offensive struggles. It gave redshirt freshman kicker Matt Araiza more opportunities to test himself (with punter Brandon Heicklen as his holder) in simulated game conditions.
Araiza, who was 3-for-5 on kicks, had a 57-yard attempt go wide right. That miss was wiped away when the defender knocked into him for a penalty.
“That’s really stupid that someone would do that,” Long said. “A 57-yard field goal, and we’re going to go rough the kicker? That’s really dumb that someone did that.”
One of Araiza’s makes tumbled over the crossbar after hitting the right upright.
Speaking of tumbling, Araiza tumbled to the turf while trying to make a midfield tackle during a kickoff return. While a dedicated effort, it seemed ill-advised to some observers, given the Aztecs have not identified a backup kicker.
“What do you expect when a guy breaks a tackle, tell him not to go tackle the guy?” Long said. “He saved the touchdown. He made the guy stumble and fall out of bounds. ... He’s got to practice it. He’s got to play like it’s game day, and today was game day.”
Long also identified another reason for Araiza — who is replacing three-year starter John Baron II as kicker — to make a tackle.
“It just proved to us that he can, and he proved to the rest of the team that he’s willing to,” Long said. “Kickers have the hardest time earning respect. So if he went over and was a baby about it, not even trying to tackle him, he wouldn’t be one of the boys. ... The best kickers have to be one of the boys”
Some other observations:
— The backup quarterback competition remains up for grabs among junior transfer Jordon Brookshire, sophomore Mark Salazar and redshirt freshman Carson Baker.
“Every once in a while one of them will do something and you think, ‘Oh, yeah, OK,’ ” Long said. “Then all of the sudden he does something else and you go, ‘Oh, my gosh.’
“So the three of them are still fighting it out. I think they’re on even footing right now.”
— Byrd was the most impressive of the running backs with two first-down carries — dragging a couple defenders with him on one of them — in addition to the TD run.
Senior running back Juwan Washington watched from the sidelines, the customary spot for SDSU’s starting tailback during fall camp scrimmages.
Sophomore running back Chance Bell also missed the scrimmage, although Bell was absent because he is currently in concussion protocol.
— Like Washington, starting tight end Parker Houston was an interested observer rather than a participant. Houston turned an ankle slightly before the scrimmage began and was held out of the scrimmage and Sunday’s practice as a precaution. Starting linebacker Kyahva Tezino was in for a couple series before joining them on the sidelines.
— Wide receivers Elijah Kothe, Koby Duru, Dominic Benson and Brionne Penny all made some good grabs.
The 6-foot-4 Kothe, who has the best hands among the receivers, could be a handful for DBs this season. Defenders were flagged twice while trying to stop him.
Is there a deep threat on the roster? Don’t know yet. SDSU never really tried stretching the field more than 15-20 yards.
— Officials were quick to whistle a play dead whenever a defender got within spitting distance of the quarterback, so it was difficult to gauge how effective the pass rush was up front.
— Several players were rotated among three safeties spots as coaches search for the best fit at each position.
“We’ve got about five of those safeties that are playing all three spots,” Long said. “We don’t know where they fit exactly the best yet. So they’re playing them all. Consequently, I’m sure there were some mistakes tonight that there wouldn’t have been if all they were playing was one spot.
“We’ll do that for another week before we lock it in who we think our best five are.”
 

SDRay

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SDSU Releases Football Stadium Renderings


Published 5 hours ago | Updated 4 hours ago
SDSU Releases Football Stadium Renderings
SDSU Releases Football Stadium Renderings
In San Diego we aren't all that good at building stadiums. But we sure can produce stadium renderings!
On Saturday afternoon the San Diego State University Athletics Department released renderings of what they hope the 35,000-seat stadium they want to build in Mission Valley is going to look like.
SDSU Football Stadium Rendering1
SDSU Football Stadium Rendering1
In 2016 voters awarded SDSU the ability to redevelop 132 acres of land where SDCCU Stadium now sits. Part of that plan is a new home for SDSU's football program.
SDSU Football Stadium Rendering2
SDSU Football Stadium Rendering2
The Aztecs want to have it ready by the start of the 2022 college football season and are hoping to lure professional soccer, concerts and major NCAA events.
SDSU says part of the stadium plan does include potential expansion to 55,000 seats if a National Football League team ever returns to San Diego.
 
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SDRay

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Aztecs Fan Fest scrimmage: Offense ahead of the defense — for once


SDSU offense produces three touchdowns, three field goals in highest-scoring scrimmage in years
Apparently, scrimmages are in the eye of the beholder.
The SDSU football team played its annual Fan Fest scrimmage Saturday evening at SDCCU Stadium.
It has been a defense-dominated affair for the past several seasons, but SDSU’s offense produced three touchdowns and three field goals on this evening.
The defensive highlight was a fumble forced by senior safety Kyree Woods, whose scoop and score resulted in a 45-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“It’s awesome getting back in this environment and getting a feel of the stadium,” SDSU quarterback Ryan Agnew said. “You’ve got the lights on, some fans cheering you on. It’s a different feeling than on the practice field. ...
“I think (the offense) came out with a different attitude. We’re tired of getting beat up by the defense. We had more than one or two guys making plays out there. You saw multiple people catch the football, you saw multiple people making big runs, you saw multiple people making good throws.”
SDSU head coach Rocky Long saw things differently.
“I was underwhelmed by the entire performance,” Long said. “We didn’t play very good defense and the offense was really sporadic.
“We fumbled a ball that the defense picked up and ran back for a touchdown.
“Am I supposed to be happy for the defense? No. We can’t be doing that. We can’t be turning the ball over.”
Long did offer some praise.
“I thought (backup running back) Kaegun Williams ran hard,” Long said. “I thought Ryan Agnew threw it pretty good. I thought he did a nice job.”
Beyond that ...
Asked what he thought of the defensive line: “They have a long way to go. They didn’t play very well. It was unimpressive.”
Asked about a 28-yard run up the middle by junior transfer quarterback Jordon Brookshire: “You don’t hit the quarterback (in a scrimmage).”
Asked for his biggest takeaway: “I’m glad we didn’t play tonight.”
The season opener is Aug. 31 against Weber State.
“If we were playing Weber State today, we’d have got beat bad,” Long said.
The scoreboard read: Black 30, Red 6.
Long even questioned that.
“It was two different offenses out there,” he said. “If you look at it as a game, each offense scored 15 points, which is nothing (added emphasis on the word nothing).”
Finally Long was asked: “Anything good about tonight?”
“Yeah, it was a beautiful night,” he said. “I don’t know what the temperature is, but it’s probably 75 degrees and it’s nice and cool and we had a nice breeze. Gee, whiz, you can’t beat that.”
Some observations:
• Agnew (6-for-13, 76 yards) played three series in the first quarter, then stepped aside so Brookshire (13-for-21, 123 yards), redshirt freshman Carson Baker (6-for-12, 46 yards, INT) and redshirt sophomore Mark Salazar (1-for-4, 3 yards) could continue their competition for backup quarterback.
Baker came out with the second team, followed by Brookshire. Salazar’s first appearance came 4 1/2 minutes into the third quarter.
Brookshire’s long midfield run late in the second quarter came moments after a 25-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Isiah Richardson in the back right corner of the end zone.
A nice throw and catch.
“That was a good catch, if it was in,” Long said. “Some defensive backs said it was not. Too bad we don’t have instant replay.”
Anyway ...
• Williams, who carried nine times for 41 yards, had a nice 23-yard run early in the first quarter before picking up some tough yards near the goal line. His 1-yard TD run midway through the first quarter was the first scoring play and stirred a gathering estimated at 2,000 people.
True freshman running back Justin Dinka (9 carries, 71 yards) appeared stopped near the line of scrimmage on a third-quarter run, then broke free and ran down the left sideline with everyone else chasing him on the way to a 74-yard touchdown.
Redshirt freshman Zidane Thomas had a scrimmage-high 16 carries for 72 yards and Chance Bell had seven carries for 40 yards.
Senior Juwan Washington did not play, as is customary for the starting running back in these exhibitions.
Junior Chase Jasmin also was absent, apparently still unable to shake a high ankle sprain.
• New kicker Matt Araiza, a redshirt freshman from Rancho Bernardo High, was perfect on three first half-field goal attempts, making good on kicks of 44, 33 and 39 yards.
• Wide receivers Ethan Dedeaux, Jordan Byrd and Dominic Benson took turns fielding punts. They were limited to fair catches. More importantly — after last year’s struggles — there were no flubs.
• Junior safety Tayler Hawkins is under concussion protocol and did not play.
Scrimmage stats
RUSHING TOTALS (carries - yards - touchdowns)Zidane Thomas 16-72-0, Justin Dinka 9-71-1, Kaegun Williams 9-41-1, Chance Bell 7-40-0, Jordon Brookshire 3-16-0, Jordan Byrd 4-8-0, Dominic Benson 1-0-0, Carson Baker 3-(-18)-0. TOTALS 52-230-2.
PASSING TOTALS (completions - attempts - interceptions, yards, touchdowns)
Jordon Brookshire 13-21-0, 123, 1; Ryan Agnew 6-13-0, 76, 0; Carson Baker 6-12-1, 46, 0; Mark Salazar 1-4-0, 3, 0.TOTALS 26-50-1, 248, 1.
RECEIVING TOTALS (number - yards - touchdowns)
Isiah Richardson 6-64-1, Kobe Smith 4-28-0, Chance Bell 3-27-0, Kaegun Williams 3-27-0, Jesse Matthews 2-39-0, Chaz Collins 2-26-0, Zidane Thomas 1-9-0, Elijah Kothe 1-8-0, Nash Devan 1-7-0, Parker Houston 1-5-0, Alex Wilson 1-5-0, Justin Dinka 1-3-0. TOTALS 26-248-1.
TACKLES (UA-A-Total)

Allan Mwata 4-4-8, Dwayne Johnson Jr. 2-6-8, Michael Shawcroft 1-7-8, Kaelin Himphill 3-4-7, Kyree Woods 5-1-6, Sammy Morrison 4-1-5, Trenton Thompson 0-5-5, Luq Barcoo 2-2-4, Kyron White 2-2-4, Eric Wilson 2-2-4, Jalil Lecky 1-3-4, Nolen Harris 2-1-3, Jonah Tavai 1-2-3, Adonis Brown 1-1-2, Darren Hall 1-1-2, Seyddrick Lakalaka 1-1-2, Shawn Nielsen 1-1-2, Daniel To’oto’o 1-1-2, Troy Cassidy 0-2-2, Caden McDonald 0-2-2, Patrick McMorris 0-2-2, Kyahva Tezino 0-2-2, Cameron Thomas 0-2-2, Jeffrey Blake 1-0-1, Nassir Sims 1-0-1, Cliffton Styles 1-0-1, Dylan Taylor 1-0-1, Noah Tumblin 1-0-1, Davaughn Celestine 0-1-1, Myles Cheatum 0-1-1, Josh Bornes 0-1-1, Garret Fountain 0-1-1, Sam Hines 0-1-1, Kahi Neves 0-1-1, Tariq Thompson 0-1-1. TOTALS 39-62-101.
TACKLES FOR LOSS

Kaelin Himphill 2.5-12, Myles Cheatum 1.0-7, Kyree Woods 1.0-3, Adonis Brown 1.0-2, Dylan Taylor 1.0-2, Michael Shawcroft 0.5-3, Patrick McMorris 0.5-2, Shawn Nielsen 0.5-2. TOTALS: 8-36.
SACKS

Kaelin Himphill 1.5-8, Myles Cheatum 1-7, Michael Shawcroft 0.5-3. TOTALS: 3-18.
PASSES BROKEN UP

Lug Barcoo 1, Adonis Brown 1.Seyddrick Lakalaka 1, Allan Mwata 1, Noah Tumblin 1, Kyree Woods 1. TOTALS: 6
FORCED FUMBLES

Sammy Morrison 1, Kyree Woods 1.TOTALS: 2
FUMBLES RECOVERED

Kyree Woods 1-45, 1 TD. TOTALS: 1
INTERCEPTIONS (no.-yards-TD)

Shawn Nielsen 1-0-0. TOTALS: 1-0-0
FIELD GOALS

Matt Araiza 3-for-3: 43g, 33g, 39g.TOTALS: 3-for-3
PUNTS (number - yards (avg.)

Brandon Heicklen 5-243 (46.6); Matt Araiza 6-250 (41.7). TOTALS: 11-493 (44.8).
 

SDRay

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2019 San Diego State Football Season Preview


The Aztecs started off the 2018 season strong going 6-1 in their first seven games. Unfortunately, San Diego State would close out the regular season 1-4 in their final five games. Even with the struggles of closing out close conference games to end the season, the Aztecs would end up playing in the Frisco Bowl against Ohio. This final game would leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth as the Aztecs were blown out 27-0 by the Bobcats.


San Diego State fans should be excited as the 2019 season approaches. Head Coach Rocky Long will be returning for his 9th season and will be attempting to win 10+ games this year as he accomplished from 2015-2017. In addition to the consistency of a great coaching staff the Aztecs will also have an abundance of players returning to continue their college career. Most of these returning players playing skill positions in the offense should be able to learn from the collapse they had at the end of last season.


The Aztecs are projected to be a middle-of-the-pack team in the Mountain West, but I believe they will exceed expectations for most people. Experience in the coaching staff and on the field will play a huge role in getting this team back to double-digit wins and landing another bowl game for head coach Rocky Long who could be in the running for his fourth coach of the year award in the Mountain West.


Reason for Optimism: Heading into the 2019 football season the Aztecs have most of their skilled positions filled by returning upperclassmen. More experienced players under head coach Rocky Long will only help this offense prosper. Ryan Agnew seems to have locked down the starting quarterback job considering his 6-1 record after being named the starter in the middle of last season. With consistency from the quarterback position, San Diego State could be a contender in the Mountain West this year.


Cause for Concern: The offensive line is the main cause for concern in 2019. Although the Aztecs have Keith Ismael starting at center, they still allowed 33 sacks last year. In an effort to fix this problem San Diego State now has Jacob Capra who has only allowed two sacks in his two years at Oregon.


Key Stat: 33. That is how many sacks the SDSU offensive line gave up last year which puts them at 89th out of 129 in the FBS. The Aztecs have their starting quarterback position filled, now all they need is to protect Agnew and give him more time in the pocket.


Wildcard: The one player that I believe can have the biggest impact on the success of the Aztecs next season is starting running back Juwan Washington. Washington is going to need to improve with 999 yards in 199 attempts. In comparison to the two backs before him, Donnel Pumphrey and Rashad Penny, Washington has huge shoes to fill. Both Pumphrey and Penny had single seasons with over 2,000 rushing yards, which Washington will attempt to accomplish this year in hopes of helping San Diego State regain the top spot of the Mountain West.

Defense

Reason for Optimism: The defensive line is the biggest strength to the defense for San Diego State. Although they have not produced the most sacks in the Mountain West, they only allowed an average of 103 yards rushing per game. Their opponents were only able to run about three yards per carry and this Aztec front seven were only responsible for 16 rushing touchdowns.


Cause for Concern: The inconsistency of the defense is a huge cause for concern. Last season the defense was to blame for the five losses in the last six games. In most of the games San Diego State would dominate the first half and then would look like a completely different team after halftime. The Aztecs should have a revamped defense for 2019 after last year’s disappointing bowl game.


Key Stat: 67. This is how many yards the defense was able to get after intercepting the football. Even though the Aztecs grabbed 10 interceptions on the season, they accounted for only 67 yards after the interception, which would lead to zero touchdowns for the year.


Wildcard: The biggest wildcard to the defense for San Diego State is their secondary. Tariq Thompson, who is the best defensive player on the roster, is third in FBS in interceptions per game at 0.27. The big question marks are Darren Hall and Luq Barcoo who will be lining up alongside Thompson. Both players have dealt with some adversity in their collegiate career, but have always stepped up and performed when called upon to play. If they can have a breakout season and consistently be effective on the field as they were when they came off the bench, then the San Diego State defense will be scary.


Saturday, August 31 vs. Weber State


Saturday, September 7 @ UCLA


Saturday, September 14 @ New Mexico State


Saturday, September 21 vs. Utah State


Saturday, October 5 @ Colorado State


Saturday, October 12 vs. Wyoming


Saturday, October 19 @ San Jose State


Saturday, October 26 @ UNLV


Saturday. November 9 vs. Nevada


Friday, November 15 vs. Fresno State


Saturday, November 23 @ Hawaii


Saturday, November 30 vs. BYU


Best Case Scenario: 10-2. The Aztecs can have a very successful season that will completely come down to the conference games. Last season they were 4-4 in conference play with almost every game decided by less than one possession. If they can bounce back from the shaky end of the 2018 season and find ways to win close games in the fourth quarter then this team could end up in the Mountain West Championship.


What’s Probably Going to Happen: 8-4. Looking at the schedule with a little less optimism, I think there will be a few games that the Aztecs will lose in the fourth quarter next year that will just barely leave them out of the Championship game.
 

SDRay

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Aztecs two-deep football roster takes shape with 2019 opener a week away


Three weeks have elapsed since the San Diego State football team opened fall camp.
Ready or not, it’s time for SDSU to shift into game-week mode in preparation for its Aug. 31 opener against Weber State.
“I believe we’ve gotten quite a bit better on offense,” San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said. “I think (quarterback Ryan) Agnew is throwing it much better. I think he’s throwing it to the right guys. We’re inconsistent catching it. But I think the offense line is better because they don’t have as much to think about (in the spread formation).”
Long isn’t as encouraged on the other side of the ball.
“We’re OK with our first group on defense,” he said. “After our first group, oh, my gosh. It’s unbelievable. We’re putting seven or eight guys out there that have never played, and most of them haven’t been with us except for the past two or three weeks. ... Our second-team defense, you have no idea what you’re going to get from them.”
Long’s biggest concern beyond lack of experienced depth on defense remains the punt return game.
“In the last two days we’ve dropped more punts than I’ve ever seen,” Long said. “And it’s not just one guy dropping them. It’s a whole bunch of guys dropping them. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
The Union-Tribune has come up with a projected two-deep, along with comments on particular areas of interest:
The offense
• Even after Thursday’s practice, Long had still not decided on the backup behind Agnew.
Junior transfer Jordon Brookshire has displayed a running ability that is superior to even that of the mobile Agnew. Brookshire’s passing accuracy — outside of last weekend’s scrimmage — has been the thing holding him back. Redshirt freshman Carson Baker, who some believe reads a defense better than Brookshire, could have the edge because he runs well enough to sidestep trouble and has been (slightly) more accurate with his aerials.
Long said it could be that Agnew gets two-third of the snaps next week while Baker and Brookshire split the others if there is not a clear cut No. 2 QB.
Which one would actually replace Agnew in a game should the need arise could come down to the circumstances of that particular game.
“We have a belief of what each of them can do,” Long said. “The game situation would determine which guy went in. ... If you’re ahead and trying to run the clock and you’re run zone-read plays, it’s awful good to have a quarterback in there who can carry it if they start taking the zone play away. And then if you have to throw it, it’s which guy is most accurate, not the guy with the strongest arm.”
• The backup running back behind senior Juwan Washington also has not been identified, partially due to minor injuries that have delayed the determination.
“There is no backup running back yet,” Long said. “It’s by committee.”
So pencil in junior Chase Jasmin at No. 2, after all he was second to Washington in carries (138) and yards (592) last season.
That’s substantially more work than sophomores Chance Bell (40-189), Jordan Byrd (23-137) and Kaegun Williams (11-40) received last year.
That doesn’t mean one of the others won’t make more impact in the season’s opening weeks.
Jasmin is still bothered by a high ankle sprain and Williams also turned an ankle this week.
• The stock of redshirt freshman wide receiver Jesse Matthews jumped more than anyone in fall camp. After spring ball, he was fourth on the depth chart at one of the receiver spots. He has played his way into the starting mix now. Matthews is a walk-on from Christian High who was the team’s offensive scout player of the year last season.
• While only six receivers are listed in the two-deep, expect eight receivers — junior Isiah Macklin and sophomore BJ Busbee are the others — to play against Weber State. The situation will be very fluid, with playing time going to anyone who stands out in the first couple games.
• Starters on the line haven’t changed from the spring, going from tackle to tackle with Kyle Spalding, Daishawn Dixon, Keith Ismael, Williams Dunkle and Jacob Capra. Backup support will come from Zach Thomas at either tackle spot, Dominic Gudino at center or guard and Jacob Jimenez at guard.
Left tackle
Kyle Spalding, 6-6, 300, Jr.
Zach Thomas, 6-5, 300, Jr.
Left guard
Daishawn Dixon, 6-5, 330, Sr.
Chris Martinez, 6-4, 305, So.
Center
Keith Ismael, 6-3, 310, Jr.
Dominic Gudino, 6-3, 300, Jr.
Right guard
William Dunkle, 6-5, 350, Fr.
Jacob Jimenez, 6-5, 300, Sr.
Right tackle
Jacob Capra, 6-5, 315, Jr.
Desmond Bessent, 6-7, 310, Fr.
Wide receiver
Elijah Kothe, 6-4, 205, So.
Kobe Smith, 6-2, 190, So.
Quarterback
Ryan Agnew, 6-0, 200, Sr.
Carson Baker, 6-3, 190, Fr. OR
Jordon Brookshire, 6-2, 215, Jr.
Running back
Juwan Washington, 5-7, 190, Sr.
Chase Jasmin, 5-11, 195, Jr.
Tight end
Parker Houston, 6-3, 250, Sr.
Daniel Bellinger, 6-6, 220, So.
Wide receiver
Jesse Matthews, 6-0, 180, Fr.
Dominic Benson, 6-2, 200, Jr.
Wide receiver
Isaiah Richardson, 6-1, 190, So.
Ethan Dedeaux, 5-9, 185, So.
SDSU linebacker Kyahva Tezino celebrates a sack last season against Sacramento State.

SDSU linebacker Kyahva Tezino celebrates a sack last season against Sacramento State.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)
The defense
• SDSU graduated all its starters up front. Redshirt freshman Cameron Thomas has emerged as a starter at nose tackle, with senior Myles Cheatum and sophomore Keshawn Banks on the ends. Behind them are several basically untested players. Newcomer Jonah Tavai, a junior college transfer, has been impressed.
• The linebacker crew, which is led by returning all-Mountain West middle linebacker Kyahva Tezino, will be one of the team’s strengths. Freshman Michael Shawcroft has been the Class of 2019 standout and is pushing to be Tezino’s backup.
• The starting secondary looks solid with cornerbacks Luq Barcoo and Darren Hall and safeties Dwayne Johnson, Tariq Thompson and Kyree Woods, who got the starting nod since Tayler Hawkins missed a week under concussion protocol and was just cleared on Thursday.
True freshman Kyron White had worked himself into a backup safety spot before suffering a knee injury this week in practice. Long said he is having surgery Friday to repair the meniscus and is expected to be sidelined 2-3 weeks.
That moves true freshman Patrick McMorris into the mix as a backup.
Note that if Johnson were to get injured at the Aztec spot, either Woods or Tariq Thompson would move into his position and a backup would fill in for them.
Defensive end
Myles Cheatum, 6-2, 265, Sr.
Jalil Lecky, 6-5, 240, Jr.
Defensive tackle
Cameron Thomas, 6-5, 260, Fr.
Jonah Tavai, 6-0, 315, Jr.
Defensive end
Keshawn Banks, 6-4, 270, So.
Connor Mitchell, 6-5, 260, So.
Linebacker
Caden McDonald, 6-3, 230, Sr.
Kaelin Himphill, 6-2, 225, Jr.
Middle linebacker
Kyavha Tezino, 6-0, 235, Sr.
Troy Cassidy, 6-3, 230, Sr. OR
Michael Shawcroft, 6-2, 225, Fr.
Linebacker
Andrew Aleki, 6-3, 225, Jr.
Seyddrick Lakalaka, 6-1, 230, So.
Cornerback
Luq Barcoo, 6-1, 175, Sr.
Eric Wilson, 6-0, 185, Jr.
Safety
Kyree Woods, 6-0, 190, Sr.
Tayler Hawkins, 6-1, 205, Jr.
Safety (Aztec)
Dwayne Johnson, 6-2, 215, Jr.
Patrick McMorris, 6-0, 180, Fr.
Safety
Tariq Thompson, 6-0, 200, Jr.
Trenton Thompson 6-2, 200, Jr.
Cornerback
Darren Hall, 6-0, 180, So.
Nolen Harris, 6-0, 185, Jr.
Aztecs kicker Matt Araiza (2) makes an extra point following a touchdown by CHance Bell.

San Diego State redshirt freshman Matt Araiza is assuming the kicking duties for the Aztecs this season.
(Chadd Cady)
Special teams
• Redshirt freshman Matt Araiza was anointed starting kicker the moment John Baron II exhausted his eligibility, although the Aztecs needed to identify a backup at the position.
After allowing virtually anyone who had an inkling to audition — including the 6-foot, 315-pound Tavai — they settled on sophomore Lasse Engel. a walk-on DB from Stuttgart, Germany, whose soccer background may have made the difference.
• The way things have gone, the punt return duties could end up in the hands of which ever player looks best in warmups before the game against Weber State.
Sophomores Ethan Dedeaux and Jordan Byrd profile best there, but only if they can secure the ball.
If there are any problems at all, it wouldn’t be surprising to see no one back for the Aztecs in certain situations — at least until they get things figured out.
Place-kicker
Matt Araiza, 6-2, 195, Fr.
Lasse Engel, 5-10, 180, So.
Punter
Brandon Heicklen, 6-0, 190, Sr.
Matt Araiza, 6-2, 195, Fr.
Holder
Brandon Heicklen, 6-0, 190, Sr.
Neil Boudreau, 6-3, 210, Jr.
Long snapper
Turner Bernard, 6-1, 225, Jr.
Parker Houston, 6-3, 250, Sr.
Short snapper
Parker Houston, 6-3, 250, Sr.
Turner Bernard, 6-1, 225, Jr.
Kick returners
Juwan Washington, 5-7, 190, Sr.
& Jordan Byrd, 5-9, 170, So.
Kaegun Williams, 5-9, 190, So.
& Chance Bell, 5-10, 185, So.
Punt returner
Ethan Dedeaux, 5-9, 185, So.
Jordan Byrd, 5-9, 170, So.
 

SDRay

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Aztecs football notebook: Long advises to take Weber State seriously


If there is any inclination among San Diego State players to take season-opening opponent Weber State lightly because it is an FCS program, all the Aztecs have to do is reference last year’s game against Sacramento State.
The Hornets led SDSU by a point through three quarters before the Aztecs rallied for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 28-14 win.
“That was a very difficult situation,” SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. “We were lucky to win the game.”
And, Long said, “Weber State is a much better football team than the Sac State team that played here last year.”
SDSU is a 7 1/2-point favorite against Weber State in Saturday’s game at SDCCU Stadium.
The Aztecs are 7-1 against FCS opponents during the Rocky Long era, winning by an average of 24 points in the victories.
The lone loss was a 40-19 home defeat to Eastern Illinois in the 2013 season opener.
“That’s as bad a performance as I’ve ever been around,” Long said after a loss that included five turnovers, one blocked punt and one punt returned for a touchdown.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo may also have had something to do with it.
SDSU tight end Parker Houston and defensive end Myles Cheatum said all the right things in Tuesday’s press conference.
“We don’t see them as FCS,” Houston said. “They’re just another college football team. They have dudes like we have dudes. They all want to win their championship. We want to win our championship.”
Said Cheatum: “I think you have to give everyone the same level of respect, no matter where they come from. They all show up to play the same way.”
Long suggested that the circumstances of a game — like last year against Sacramento State — stick with coaches much longer than players.
“They get over things quickly,” he said. “All they remember is they won.”
So the coach is here to remind them about things.
“You always show them on film how good the opponent is,” Long said. “You never know if you get through to this age group or not. We’ll find out on game day where they understand that or not. ...
“It’s the same deal as when we play the Power 5 teams. Are they overlooking us? They better not. Are we overlooking them because they’re the FCS and not the FBS? We better not, or we’re going to get beat.”
Rocky on season ticket sales
Long was asked for his thoughts on season ticket sales after it was reported that sales have dropped 15 percent from last season — from 13,648 to 11,658.
“It might just be that the stadium’s too dang old,” he said. “I’m serious. As soon as the new stadium is being built, you watch what happens. They’ll sell season tickets then.”
His logic being that if fans don’t buy season tickets to the 35,000-seat stadium, “they’re not getting in” with the ease they do now in a stadium that seats twice as many fans.
“Right now, you can show up five minutes before the game and get the best seat in the house,” Long said. “So why would you buy a season ticket? I wouldn’t even buy a season ticket. ...
“I think the number of season tickets we’ve sold around here in the last five or six years is unbelievable with the stadium situation. ... Whatever you all think, that is great, great fan support.”
Chapman returns to roots
Former SDSU quarterback Christian Chapman has returned to the sidelines of his high school alma mater, coaching the quarterbacks at Carlsbad High.
“I’m really close with my high school coach (Thadd McNeal),” Chapman said. “I talked with him for a little bit and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come give back to the program and help these kids out. It’s the least I can do for everything it brought me in my life. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it.”
The Lancers opened season Friday night with a 42-14 win over L.A. Hart.
Chapman is also interning with a Carlsbad financial firm, although he’s still leaving the door open to continue playing if an opportunity should arise.
Depth chart vs. Weber State
Notable on SDSU’s official depth chart released for the Weber State game:
• Redshirt freshman Carson Baker (Helix High) is listed as the backup quarterback behind starter Ryan Agnew. Junior transfer Jordon Brookshire is listed third.
• No backup at running back was named behind starter Juwan Washington, with junior Chase Jasmin and sophomores Chance Bell, Kaegun Williams and Jordan Byrd all expected to get a chance.
“Whoever has the hot hand will be the guy that gets the extra reps behind Juwan,” Long said.
• Redshirt freshman Jesse Matthews (Christian High) has earned a starting role at wide receiver, along with sophomores Elijah Kothe and Ethan Dedeaux. Sophomores Kobe Smith, Isaiah Richardson and BJ Busbee are listed as backups.
• True freshman linebacker Michael Shawcroft (Helix High) is listed as the backup to Kyahva Tezino at middle linebacker.
Injury update
• Sophomore quarterback Mark Salazar is practicing again, returning from a right knee sprain.
• Junior offensive lineman Zach Thomas has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury, although he was able to jog during Tuesday’s practice.
Roster add
Kicker Kyle Continente, a transfer from Ventura College, has joined the team.
 

Harryo the K

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35,000 capacity? That's just about what the Chuggers are drawing in their first two years at The Ram Head.

Deano might be thinking....sounds good...it's new.....and I can save $65 million a year.
 

SDRay

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5 Things to Watch: Weber State at Aztecs


San Diego State and Weber State first met on a football field 53 years ago in Ogden, Utah.
The Wildcats dominated the Aztecs early, building a 20-0 first-half lead before SDSU rallied for a 38-34 victory.
A newspaper account called it “one of the greatest football victories in Aztec history.”
It also represents a pivotal moment in football history.
“At halftime, we just threw the whole game plan out,” said Don Horn, SDSU’s quarterback during the 1965-66 seasons. “We decided to just start throwing the ball. We had to do something.
“We went to what today you’d call the spread formation.”
What’s old is new again.
The Aztecs have switched to the spread offense that will be unveiled in Saturday’s 2019 season opener against Weber State (6 p.m., no TV, streaming on Facebook Live).
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SDSU players have been working on the new offense for the past six months. The 1966 Aztecs?
“We did it on the fly,” Horn said by phone Friday from his home in Colorado.
Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.
The Aztecs were in trouble because their offense was sputtering and Weber State had a bruising running back named Lee White who was running all over them.
Horn said SDSU defenders Jimmy Hight and Jeff Staggs told him after the game “they felt that just riding (White) trying to tackle him they gained over 100 yards.”
At halftime, Aztecs defensive coordinator John Madden took his players to one side of the locker room.
“He was screaming at the defense, ‘You gotta stop those guys,’ ” Horn said.
Aztecs head coach Don Coryell took the offense to another area, but not before closing the windows.
“He was afraid they were listening to what we were going to say at halftime,” Horn said. “He thought they had spies out there for us and all that stuff.
“He took us all in the corner where no one could hear and said, ‘Forget the game plan. This is what we’re going to do.’ ”
Coryell started scheming furiously, diagramming formations with four and five receivers. The first flight of Air Coryell?
“Yeah, pretty much,” Horn said. “That’s second half was Air Coryell, I can tell you that.”
Don Horn.cropped.jpg

Don Horn quarterbacked San Diego State to one of its greatest comeback victories in 1966 at Weber State. Horn became the first SDSU quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards in a season that year.
(SDSU Athletics)
The Aztecs came out in the third quarter and started flooding the field with receivers, confounding a Weber State defense that had been in control.
“Probably six or eight times,” Horn said, “I’m in the huddle drawing out routes in the grass and the dirt. The old sandlot stuff. That was something. ...
“I think we even ran a few plays out of the shotgun, too, just to give me a little more time to look downfield. We’d put three guys to one side and two to the other and just let them play.”
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Horn threw four touchdown passes in the second half — two to wide receiver Craig Scoggins and two to running back Don Shy. Wide receiver Haven Moses also created problems for the Wildcats.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Horn passed for 346 yards and five touchdowns that night. By season’s end, Horn would become the first SDSU quarterback to pass for more than 2,000 yards in a season while leading the Aztecs to an 11-0 record.
Horn was drafted in the first round by the Green Bay Packers after the season, beginning an eight-year NFL career that included one season with the Chargers.
Horn still follows the program and certainly will be keeping tabs on Saturday’s game.
SDSU head coach Rocky Long has emphasized the Aztecs still will be a run-first team.
So fans shouldn’t expect to see quarterback Ryan Agnew throw for 300 yards against the Wildcats.
Horn was told the Aztecs have gone 52 games without a 300-yard passer. In fact, Quinn Kaehler’s 326-yard effort against Air Force in 2014 is the program’s only 300-yard performance in seven seasons (93 games).
What’s it been like to see SDSU become a running team?
“It breaks my heart,” Horn said.
How much the pass is back in the Aztecs attack remains the most intriguing storyline in a season that promises to be full of them over the next three months.
Here are five things to watch against the Wildcats:
1. Spreading things out
Long believes it will be two or three weeks before the offense is running at “game speed.”
He realizes this, however: “We know we’ve got a pretty good quarterback, a pretty good offensive line and pretty good running backs.”
“I don’t know if any receivers proved they’re any good yet.
Junior Ethan Dedeaux, sophomore Elijah Kothe and redshirt freshman Jesse Matthews earned starting spots, although sophomores Kobe Smith, Isaiah Richardson and BJ Busbee should get plenty of snaps as well.
Progress in the passing game will be measured more by catching contested passes and converting in crucial situations than piling up a bunch of yards.
2. Questions on the D-line
Long brought in former SDSU head coach Brady Hoke to coach up a defensive line short — very short — on experience.
“My biggest concern on the whole team is the defensive line,” Long said.
Senior defensive end Myles Cheatum is the only lineman on the two-deep who has ever started a game, although sophomore defensive ends Keshawn Banks (193 snaps) and Connor Mitchell (229 snaps) have limited experience from last season.
Redshirt freshman Cam Thomas debuts as a starter at nose tackle. Junior Jalil Lecky and redshirt freshman Sam Hines are among the reserves who have earned playing time in practice but are unknown quantities.
“Every kid handles (their debut) differently,” Long said. “Some of the inexperienced guys will faint. They won’t do anything right. They won’t play hard. They won’t be tough. And then some other young guys will be playing like they’ve been playing their whole life at that level.
How do you get those struggling through it?
“You have to put them out there and get embarrassed,” Long said. “There ain’t no way for them to get over it, except to play. So you have to bite your tongue and let them play, even though you’re pulling your hair out on the sidelines.”
3. Araiza takes over
Redshirt freshman kicker Matt Araiza gets his first opportunity to show what he can do as three-year starter John Baron II’s replacement.
Araiza has an even stronger leg than Baron, who had a career-best 54-yarder last season.
The big question: Can Araiza approach the level of accuracy Baron (.833 field-goal percentage) maintained?
4. Battle of the running backs
SDSU senior tailback Juwan Washington was leading the nation in rushing three weeks into the 2018 season before a fractured clavicle sidelined him for nearly half the year.
Washington, who was aiming to be SDSU’s third straight 2,000-yard running back, finished with 999 yards.
He gets a fresh start this year.
Weber State counters with sophomore running back Josh Davis, who was the FCS Freshman of the Year last season after carrying 250 times for 1,362 yards (5.4 ypc) and nine touchdowns.
A secondary storyline for SDSU will be which backup — Chase Jasmin, Chance Bell or Kaegun Williams — steps up to be Washington’s understudy.
5. Those pesky punts
SDSU’s struggles in the punt return game have been well documented in recent weeks and months.
As recently as this week, Long lamented punts being dropped in practice.
SDSU averaged just five yards per punt return last season, so lengthy run backs are not the expectation.
“Just catch the damn ball,” Long has said.
Sophomore Jordan Byrd is expected to get the first crack at it.
 

Gill Man

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We are only favored by 7.5.

Sad.
We won 6-0....couldn't cover the spread lolz. That musta been a real defensive battle. Either that or some real sloppy offense on both sides. Didn't see it. Very strange score considering the powerhouse run attacks we've had the last 2 years with nationally recongnized RB's.