SDCCU Stadium – San Diego, California
In a game where your offense puts up zero points, averages 3.3 yards per play, and punts nine times, how do you pull out a win? You turn to your defense.
Behind the efforts of senior Field Warrior Tariq Thompson, the San Diego State Aztecs won their season opener against Weber State of the Football Championship Series (FCS) in ugly fashion. The traditional philosophy, “a win is a win,” doesn’t seem to apply here, as the Aztec faithful become worried at the thought of Week 2 opponent, UCLA.
However, the Aztecs are officially 1-0 to start the season, and SDSU fans can take pride in at least that much.
Three Spots for Improvement
First and foremost, the Aztecs need to up their passing attack. While quarterback Ryan Agnew’s 16-30 day resulted in a passer rating of 83.6, he put up a miserable 108 yards against an FCS defense. A number nine-ranked FCS defense, but an FCS defense nonetheless. A passing game on par with what was on display at SDCCU Stadium on Saturday night will not cut it against a PAC-12 defense, no matter if that defense is in a down year or not.
Now giving Agnew the benefit of the doubt, there were plenty of dropped passes and throws receivers could have made a play on, a result of a young receiving corps. This is focal point number two. This group of young receivers has bundles of talent, one can see it in their route running and their ability to get their hands on almost any ball, but they must focus on finishing those well-run routes and securing those seemingly out-of-reach balls they are miraculously getting to. The standout of the receiving group against Weber was Jesse Matthews, being targeted only four times and catching three of those four passes. At that level of efficiency, even with a small sample size, one has to assume Rocky Long will incorporate the redshirt freshman into more of the gameplan, and Agnew will look his way more often.
Third, Long’s gameplan needs to stay run dominant. In our SDSU season preview, one of the offensive stars named was Juwan Washington. At 55 yards on 22 carries, Washington did not have a terrible game but was outperformed by sophomore Jordan Byrd. On only five carries, Byrd posted a total rushing number of 55 yards. Akin to Matthews, this is a small sample size, but a promising one all the same. If Juwan Washington comes slow out of the gates in Los Angeles, there is a backup on the San Diego State sideline that coach Rocky Long can be quick to trust.
Impact Player of the Game
Tonight’s Impact Player of the Game goes to previously mentioned field warrior Tariq Thompson, who ended today’s game with five tackles, three pass breakups, and one interception, the interception and one of his pass breakups coming late in the 4th quarter within the Aztecs 50-yard line. The numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, as Thompson flew around the field the entire night, giving the Weber State offense nightmares every time they touched the ball.
The San Diego State Aztecs (1-0) play at UCLA (0-1) next Saturday, September 7th.