On Saturday, October 21, the San Diego State Aztecs will host the Fresno State Bulldogs.
This will be the first game for the Aztecs after the Boise State debacle in which the Aztecs saw their undefeated season come to an end.
However, the season is not over and there’s still time for SDSU to right the ship.
In this piece we will focus on what SDSU must do in order to get back in the win column.
Aztecs on Defense
Stop the run
This has been a problem for most of the season. The issue finally caught up to SDSU last week. For weeks it seemed that opposing running backs were getting five or six yards a carry, and last week Boise State completely controlled the line of scrimmage. When a team can’t stop the run, then it has to deal with play-action passing, which really makes it nearly impossible to stop an offense. Look for the Aztecs to get back to basics this week. Start with stopping the run and getting Fresno State in 3rd and long situations. In doing that, SDSU can force the Bulldogs into making mistakes.
Bring the heat
SDSU has been average so far on defense in the 2017 season, However, in the last couple of games I’ve seen opposing QB’s getting too comfortable in the pocket, and that needs to change. I think it would be a good idea for the Aztecs to start getting more creative with their pressure packages. If Fresno State QB Marcus McMaryion gets time to set his feet, he can be a really accurate quarterback. I think it would be smart for Coach Long to dial up a couple of blitzes early on in the game to get momentum on the Aztecs’ side.
Aztecs on Offense
Start converting on 3rd down
So far this season, SDSU has been horrible when it comes to moving the chains on 3rd down. They are currently converting at a 39% rate, and that simply isn’t good enough. I think it falls on QB Christian Chapman to make better decisions and dissect the defense a little bit better. If the Aztecs’ offense isn’t able to give their defense a breather on Saturday, it could be a tough game.
Next man up
Throughout the week, coach Rocky Long has repeatedly said that he’s not sure how many of his starting offensive linemen would suit up Saturday night. Obviously this is not an excuse. At this point, SDSU has enough talent and depth to overcome injuries. In my opinion, injuries are a part of the game and provide opportunity for other players to show their value. The fact that the starting O-Line might not play will not be used as an excuse.
This one won’t be an easy game for the Aztecs. Fresno State is really good on defense. So far in conference play, they’re only allowing a little more than 10 points per game. It’s obvious that they’re doing something right. I look for this one to be a dog fight and it could come down to whoever has the ball last. In the end, I think SDSU bounces back and wins it 23-17.