The San Diego State Aztecs are predicted to win the Mountain West Conference yet again this year.
The 2017 season kicks off for the Aztecs this Saturday at 5:30 pm at Jack Murphy Field. The Aztecs host the UC Davis Aggies.
The Aztecs are coming off of seven straight winning seasons and two straight bowl game victories. The team has also posted back-to-back 11-3 campaigns. It is surely a great time to be an SDSU football fan, and the upcoming season will be an exciting one.
Let’s take a look at the Aztecs week one game. UC Davis is a Division 1 FCS team that finished with an overall record of 3-8 last season. UC Davis hired new head coach, Dan Hawkins, in the offseason. Hawkins previously was the head coach of Boise State from 2000 to 2005, and then Colorado from 2006-2010. Hawkins has plenty of experience, and could easily turn the 3-8 Aggies around to a winning season. Hawkins has roots to UC Davis, having attended the school and played on the football team for two seasons (1981-82).
The Aggies are mostly a passing dominant offense, which is highlighted by wide receiver Keelan Doss, who had nearly 1,000 yards receiving last year. Their defense is definitely a weakness, especially against a much bigger Aztec football team. The Aggies have also yet to name their starting quarterback for the opener.
Rashaad Penny should put up some impressive numbers against the FCS school, which allowed about 200 rushing yards per game last season. If the game is a blowout at the start of the second half, Penny could see limited play, with back-up running back Juwan Washington getting the bulk of the carries. Washington is a breakout candidate for the Aztecs in 2017. He was the 3rd string RB last year, but has moved up a spot in the depth chart due to Pumphrey’s outstanding college football career coming to an end. Washington could eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing mark, as Penny did last season as the number two running back.
The Aztecs starting quarterback will be returning starter, Christian Chapman. He threw for 1,994 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. Chapman looked comfortable managing games and avoided costly mistakes most of the time. Chapman should look even better this year with more experience.
The keys to winning the opener are simply don’t turn the ball over, and knock off the off-season rust to not come out flat. The Aztecs are a faster, stronger, and bigger team than the Aggies. Rocky Long definitely has his team ready to play.
The Aztecs’ season opener is expected to draw 50,000 fans, give or take, per SDSU’s executive associate athletic director of external relations Steve Schnall.
The Aztecs’ are San Diego’s primary football team now, and it would be something special to surpass the Chargers’ total attendance for two preseason games combined in just the opener alone.
Tight end David Wells has been recovering from a foot injury all summer. It is unknown if he will be able to play in the season opener. Wells is a big part of the Aztecs offense, with blocking and receiving. The big tight end caught four touchdowns in 2016. Head coach Rocky Long expressed his hopefulness that Wells will be able to play.
Starting nose tackle Sergio Phillips is likely to play in the opener as he has been recovering from a concussion.
In other news, former Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano, who was a graduate transfer to the Aztecs after graduating Rutgers University in the off-season, requested his release. Laviano was expected to be the backup to Christian Chapman this season, but fell to number three on the depth chart behind sophomore Ryan Agnew. Laviano is leaving SDSU to pursue a lacrosse scholarship.
After the season opener on Saturday, the Aztecs will travel to Arizona to play Arizona State next Saturday, September 9, at 8pm.
The Aztecs need to start the year off with a strong win, and gain some confidence heading in to the rest of the season.
The Aztecs’ 2017 season is almost here. Get out there and support them. One City, One Team.