San Diego State aims for 2-0 start as they travel to play Utah State

Credit: SDSU Athletics

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The San Diego State Aztecs look to bring their season record to 2-0 against Utah State on Saturday.

The Aztecs (1-0) are coming off a dominant 34-6 win over UNLV. Their 3-3-5 defense completely shut down the Rebels’ offense, holding them to only 186 total yards while containing star running back Charles Williams better than most teams can. 

The Aztecs’ were able to put up 34 points despite an uninspiring performance from quarterback Carson Baker, who completed only 12 of his 25 passes for 137 yards. The running game won the game for San Diego State, as they rushed for 287 yards on 46 attempts, good for 6.2 yards per rush. 

Native San Diegan Greg Bell rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown, while Kaegun Williams gained 84 yards on the ground. If the Aztecs can keep their backfield committee rushing game going, they should be able to attack an Aggies defense that allowed 171 rush yards against Boise State last week. 

Utah State (0-1) fell to Boise State last week 42-13. Their defense got shredded by the Broncos, allowing 268 pass yards and three touchdowns in the air to Hank Bachmeier. Boise State was able to run all over them as well. 

Utah State failed to get its run game working at all. They averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Jaylen Warren, their starting running back, managed just 89 yards in 23 total attempts.

The Aggie defense did not force any turnovers, and if Carson Baker can play “game manager” and not turn the ball over, the Aztecs should be able to leave Logan with a win. 

The San Diego State defense kept the UNLV quarterbacks in check throughout last week’s game, allowing only 106 passing yards. Utah State quarterback and Utah transfer Jason Shelley had an underwhelming season opener last week, completing 14 of his 27 passes for only 92 yards and an interception. 

Aztecs’ head coach Brady Hoke will hope the 3-3-5 defense can limit Shelley’s dual-threat skills and prevent big plays in the secondary. If they can shut down the running game, just like Boise State did to Utah State, the Aggies will be forced to go to the passing game. Shelley’s 16.2 QBR from the last game will need to improve if the Aggies offense wants to factor into this game. 

If the Aztecs defense shuts down the running game, making Shelley uncomfortable and causing him to panic, they will do well. Shelley does have seven career interceptions, which tops his six total touchdowns. The two defenses will be the largest factors in the game.

Year by year, San Diego State comes out with a strong rushing attack and a stingy defense. In this odd 2020 season, it seems like, even after one game, the Aztecs will have the same strengths that this program has maintained for years. 

Last season, the Aggies went 7-6 (6-2 Mountain West) and defeated the Aztecs for the first time since 1967. San Diego State will look to avoid the upset as they play in Logan this time. 

Tomorrow night’s Halloween game will kick off at 6:30 PT and be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

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