Report Card: SDSU vs UNLV
Following this past Saturday’s game, Brady Hoke said he would be partaking of a celebratory PB & J sandwich before turning his attention to this week’s game against Utah State.
Players and coaches must quickly turn the page to the next game; fans get to savor it a little longer.
To put a bow on last week, a few of the EVT Aztecs writers put together a report card of the Aztecs convincing win over the Rebels.
Quarterback: C –
Coming into the season, the biggest question mark on the team was at the Quarterback position. After one week, it remains the top question. Former Helix QB, Carson Baker, threw for a pedestrian 137 yards while completing less than 50% of his passes. Baker’s grade would be lower except for a few bright spots. He did not turn over the football, the offense scored 34 points, and he threw for a couple of red-zone scores (only one counted). – Paul
Running Back: A
SDSU looks like they are continuing their proud tradition of elite college running backs. From Marshall Faulk, Ronnie Hillman, Donnel Pumphrey, and Rashad Penny. Greg Bell has a great chance to add his name to this great list. – Evan
Wide Receiver: C
No matter what the refs or the box score says, SDSU’s receivers caught two TD’s passes last week. Jesse Matthew’s TD at the end of the second quarter was somehow taken away by replay. Ethan Dedeaux opened the scoring with a TD reception of his own. It was encouraging to see Red Zone catches by wide receivers. In 2019, SDSU only scored 19 TDs on 44 attempts – well below the national average – this was due primarily to teams daring the Aztecs to throw, which too often they failed to do. If the Aztecs are to improve in this area, they will need a repeat of what we saw on Saturday. -Paul
Tight End: C
Named to the Mackey Award Watch list and the preseason teams by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele Magazine, SDSU TE Daniel Bellinger, will need better performances going forward to live up to these lofty expectations. He recorded only one reception and dropped a sure touchdown pass. On the other hand, second-string TE Nolan Gavin – replacing the FB in SDSU’s offense – was terrific blocking for a running game that averaged 6.2 yards per rush. – Paul
Staff Grades: Bobby: Dominic: Evan: Paul: A+
On Saturday, San Diego State rushed for 287 yards. Carson Baker was sacked only once. It is cliché, but winning does begin upfront. In 2018, Former Head Coach, Rocky Long, predicted the 2020 Offensive Line would be one of the best on the West Coast. The stellar play from an offensive line group, which has underperformed the lofty expectations set for it in the past, is hopefully a sign the OL is set to live up to its potential and prove their former coach prophetic. – Paul
Defensive Line: B+
As with the offensive line, the success of the defense starts with the play of their lineman. In a positive sign for the Aztecs, it was not their stars, Keshawn Banks (5 tackles) and Cameron Thomas (½ a sack), who stood along the defensive front. #98 Connor Mitchell added a sack, as did Junior Jonah Tavai. If SDSU continues to get such high production from all of the players in its rotation, this could be another special year defensively for the Aztecs. – Paul
Caden McDonald was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week, but there were contributions among all of the linebackers. Sophomore Michael Shawcroft added four tackles and recovered a fumble late in the game. Seyddrick Lakaklaka had five tackles, including three tackles in the UNLV backfield, and senior Andrew Aleki chipped in with four tackles. The motto of the defense is “11 hats to the ball.” The LB’s certainly followed this mantra in this game. – Paul
An anonymous cornerback is a successful one. There is not much to say about Darren Hall, Deon Branch, or even Cedarious Barfield’s first start, and that is a good thing. The Aztecs secondary held UNLV to 106 passing yards. The key was the strong play of the CBs on the screens to the WRs. UNLV Junior Wide Receiver, Tyleek Collins, had three receptions for -5 yards. That is not a typo. He had negative yards because he was met by an SDSU defender when he caught the ball. – Paul
Safety: Paul: A –
Aztec Safety, Dwayne Johnson, led the team with 10 tackles. Warrior safety, Tariq Thompson, was second with 9. Normally, safeties being the leading tacklers is a bad sign, but not on Saturday. In years past, Rocky Long built the defense to funnel the plays to his best playmakers, with the success of the defense hinging on these players. Early indications are Coach Mattix has chosen Johnson and Thompson for this role. They responded with a combined 15 solo tackles! – Paul
Special Teams: (as a whole) C+
How could a unit responsible for the worst play of the night – Jordan Byrd’s dropped punt – earn such a high grade? The rest of the Special teams were … well, special. Trenton Thompson blocked a punt, Matt Araiza made a pair of field goals, and averaged nearly 50 yards a punt. There was a costly holding penalty that negated a good return by Byrd, who responded nicely after the fumble to average a respectable 6.8 yards a return. – Paul
Hoke knows how to coach SDSU football. He is back to make SDSU once again a team to pay attention to – Evan
Staff Grades: Bobby: Dominic: Paul: F
Jesse Matthews has already proven his resilience. A former walk-on who outworked decorated recruits – some with famous bloodlines – Matthews earned the starting WR job last year as a freshman. He will need every bit of the courage he has shown to get over what took place on Saturday.
Matthews made a reception on a pass that might be the best catch he will ever make. Falling to the ground with the defender yanking his face mask the opposite direction, Matthews, somehow, got his hands under the ball and made the reception. The line judge standing a few feet away can be forgiven for missing the face mask because he got the call on the field correct: TOUCHDOWN. Inconceivably, the replay official took the score away. What angle did they have, which showed the opposite of what was plain to everyone watching the game? Mountain West officials have not provided it – Paul
My earliest sport’s memory involve tailgating at the Murph, running down the circular exit ramps, and seeing the Padres, Chargers and Aztecs play. As a second generation Aztec, I am passionate about all things SDSU. Other interests include raising my four children, being a great husband and teaching high school.