Here are your Week 1 grades from Mr. Garrison, as the San Diego State Aztecs come from behind in a win over the New Mexico State Aggies.
Jordon Brookshire‘s start against New Mexico State did little to quiet the rumbling of the Aztec faithful, who was unsure if he is the quarterback to lead the team in 2021. He threw for only 76 yards with no TDs and an INT. The INT lowered his grade down a level. He also ran for a score.
Running Back: B
Greg Bell ran for a career-high 161 yards. Jordan Byrd added 48 more. Both scored a touchdown. They did not earn an ‘A’ because Bell fumbled in the first half at the NMSU 10 yard line. The two backs sets were dynamite for the Aztecs. Two of the three offensive touchdowns came from this look.
Wide Receiver: F
Brookshire did not perform up to expectations, but he also did not have much help from his Wideouts. Of his 13 incompletions, the receivers had a chance to catch six of them. A 12-19 day looks far better than 6-19. The ongoing debate has been is SDSU’s poor passing is due to the WR’s or the QB’s. Saturday, the blame falls more on the wideouts.
Tight Ends: C+
The Tight Ends were not involved much in the passing game, but they were instrumental in blocking during the run game. SDSU is fortunate to have two highly skilled players who are willing extensions of the offensive line in Daniel Bellinger and Jay Rudolph. For the Aztecs to be the best versions of themselves, however, they need more from the duo in the passing game.
Offensive Line: C+
The Aztecs’ magic number is 200. They are 48-2 the last 50 times. They have rushed
for at least 200 yards. The OL deserves credit for opening up the holes for the run game. However, they had several costly penalties that prevented the offense from getting going early.
Defensive Line: A
The DL was fantastic Saturday. They got significant contributions from most of their rotation. Cameron Thomas paced the group with 3.5 tackles for loss. Jalil Lecky and Keshawn Banks forced three turnovers. The DL also took away NMSU’s inside run game, which allowed the coaches to adjust their game plan to provide help outside.
Michael Shawcroft intercepted a pass with a club on his hand, Segun Olubi forced two fumbles, Caden McDonald had 1.5 sacks, and Andrew Aleki returned an INT for a TD. It was a terrific day for the group. NMSU forced the LB’s to play from sideline to sideline, and the unit responded.
Defensive Backs: B
The stats say NMSU gained 326 yards in the air, but in reality, their bubble screen game took the place of their rushing attack on Saturday, inflating the final numbers. NMSU attacked SDSU’s young corners, and Trenton Thompson had some trouble in coverage. This grade would be a ‘C‘ except Tayler Hawkins raised the unit’s score one mark due to his incredible Int and Patrick McMorris’ terrific play.
Special Teams: A-
Matt Araiza had a banner game. He had nine punts on the night. 6 were 50+ yards, and 4 were inside of the 20. Araiza averaged 56.8 yards a punt, while the coverage unit only gave up 5 yards a return. The unit’s grade dropped because the punt team had a turnover. A-
During the third quarter and one minute into the fourth, the Aztecs lived up to their potential, outscoring the Aggies 28-0. For the rest of the game, the team played sloppily. Poor play in Game One plagued many teams in college football. Coaches who found ways to help their players come out sharp were the exception. SDSU’s staff was not among them, and they receive a low grade as a result.