Rose Bowl – Los Angeles, CA
On Saturday afternoon, the San Diego State Aztecs continued their recent dominance of the Pac-12 conference by defeating Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins handily. In a game where 492 total passing yards were gained on only 66 passes overall, big-play ability factored in heavily, and SDSU quarterback Ryan Agnew’s 9.5 yards per attempt got the job done over UCLA field general Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s 5.7 YPA.
The difference in this game was three field goals, courtesy of Matt Araiza’s left foot. Araiza extended his career-long to 43 yards, going 3-4 on the day and raising his season total to 5-6 on field goals.
However, Araiza was not the only impressive aspect of the SDSU kicking game on the day, as punter Brandon Heicklen put three of his five punts inside 20 yards, helping SDSU win the field position battle, an aspect of the game that comes into play when a team starts to rely on their placekicker.
Head Coach Rocky Long showed satisfaction in his team’s performance, stating in his post-game press conference, “We should play every Saturday at 1:30 in the afternoon… It’s too bad TV tells us we have to play at 7:00 and 8:00 all the time.”
Kyahva Tezino is an absolute monster. In our season preview, we discussed Tezino’s ranking as the number 18 inside linebacker in the upcoming NFL draft class. Against UCLA, he backed up the hype. Tezino was everywhere, racking up nine total tackles, seven of them solo, with a sack and a tackle for loss and a half. Not to mention what the numbers don’t show, Tezino’s affinity for stopping plays in big situations. In the clutch, Tezino helped shut down multiple 3rd and 4th down conversions that would have kept the game in the balance instead of safely in State’s hands. Tezino ensured that did not happen.
Second, the offense came to play. There are two possibilities for why this is, either Rocky Long did not show all of his cards against Weber State last Saturday night or Ryan Agnew needed some time to adjust to the new offense. The latter is plausible, but the former is certainly feasible. Long has never been one for transparency. He does not let his freshmen talk to media, and he gives off a secretive energy. He’s also certainly no slouch when it comes to signal calling, so it is very possible UCLA was not expecting the shots SDSU took further down the field on Saturday.
Finally, this defense has solidified themselves as nothing to be messed with. Of course, we have yet to see how they fare against a larger challenge like Fresno State and Boise State, but shutting out a Top 10 FCS team and holding a Power 5 school to 14 points certainly offers promise for the road ahead, a road paved with Kyahva Tezino and Tariq Thompson, two of the most dangerous men in college football.
Impact Player of the Game
Slinging bombs all game long, with 15+ 10-or-more yard pass, plays throughout the game, Ryan Agnew showed he has the stuff to take this team all the way this season. He is the Impact Player of the Game in conjunction with his partner-in-crime, wide receiver Kobe Smith, who had seven receptions for 131 yards, making him Agnew’s prime target for the game and making himself a sure target for the rest of the season.
San Diego State rises to 2-0 on the season and next week will travel to New Mexico State to take on the Aggies on Saturday, September 14th at 5:00 PM PST.