In the television broadcast of SDSU’s 34-6 steamrolling of UNLV on CBS Sports Network, Commentators Aaron Taylor and Carter Blackburn were in disbelief about the UNLV’s inability to block SDSU junior linebacker Caden McDonald.
It turns out, Taylor and Blackburn were not the only people to take notice.
On Monday, McDonald was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week. McDonald set career highs in several categories. Coming into the game, McDonald’s high for tackles was five, tackles for loss was two, and sacks was two.
Congrats to Caden McDonald for being named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week! McDonald had career highs of eight tackles, three TFL and 2.5 sacks in SDSU’s 34-6 win over UNLV. #Win22 https://t.co/e5WHAubiSK pic.twitter.com/BiUKePK5Pw
— San Diego State Football (@AztecFB) October 26, 2020
Against UNLV, he recorded eight tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three tackles for loss. McDonald, a preseason third-team All-Mountain West by Phil Steele Magazine, graduated from North West High School in Justin, Texas.
In high school, McDonald set a school record and won a state championship in the discus. He is a two-time member of the All-Mountain West Academic Fall Team.
His play on Saturday is a terrific sign for the Aztec going forward. Before the season, if the Aztec’s Dark Side Defense had a weakness, it was believed to be at linebacker.
A Week 8 #CFB Top Performance
LB Caden McDonald – SDSU
• 8 Tackles
• 3 Tackles for Loss
• 2.5 Sacks pic.twitter.com/da8WtDAnb8
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) October 26, 2020
On passing downs, in SDSU’s 3-3-5 defense, one linebacker typically joins three down linemen rushing the quarterback.
Last season, that job often belonged to team captain Kyahva Tezino. In addition to the intangibles Tezino brought to the game, replacing his pass-rushing ability was a question mark heading into the season. On Saturday, McDonald showed he is poised to fulfill this role.
McDonald’s emergence gives offensive coordinators another playmaker to game plan for, potentially, opening the game for SDSU’s other stars.
The Aztecs defense, which ranked 2nd nationally last season, giving up only 12.7 points per game, looks ready to continue its dominating ways. Amazingly, SDSU’s defense has now gone 34 quarters without allowing two scoring drives in any one quarter. For perspective, in Alabama’s 48-17 throttling of Tennessee, the Vols scored twice – a touchdown and field goal – in the second quarter.
San Diego State will put their streak on the line Saturday as they travel to Logan, Utah to play Utah State.
Utah State is coming off a 42-13 loss in their opening week. Game time is set for 6:30 pm PST.
The Aztecs opened as a 7-point favorite.