Saturday night is the time, and under the lights at Mackay Stadium is the place for a crucial conference tilt between the Wolf Pack and the Aztecs of San Diego State.
Here to inject some humor into the proceedings, however, is avid SDSU fan and blogger AztecsKillingHim, the man behind the blog of the same name which boasts “Mountain West quality commentary, Big East quality toilet humor.”
1. After a pair of frustrating losses to San Jose State and Fresno State, the Aztecs appear to have bounced back strong in the last couple of weeks (albeit against Hawai’i and Colorado State at home). Is this the case, or is anxiety still high among Aztec fans?
Anxiety is always high among Aztec fans, and now is no different. I think exclusively beating terrible teams is wearing thin with our fanbase. A few weeks ago, I tried to figure out the last time SDSU actually beat a decent team that wasn’t a service academy. Rocky Long hasn’t done it yet. Brady Hoke — for all his hype — didn’t, either. Chuck Long didn’t even bother to beat the terrible teams. I think you have to go back to 2005, when Tom Craft beat a kinda OK Utah team in Salt Lake City. Hell, I’m not even sure if that one counts. So this is a big game for us. I think a lot of Aztecs fans see Nevada as a litmus test of whether this program is actually improving to the point where it can beat someone with a pulse. And we aren’t optimistic about it.
2. In spite of the loss of Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State has run the ball even more this year, often with great success (225.9 yards per game this year). What necessitated this change in philosophy?
I don’t think it’s so much a change in philosophy so much as having a new dimension to the offense. Running backs Adam Muema and Walter Kazee have surprisingly picked up Hillman’s slack, but the increase you see is a result of the new quarterback. Last year, quarterback Ryan Lindley was a bazooka-armed drop-back passer who was about as mobile as the Moai of Rapa Nui. This year, we have Ryan Katz, who is pretty danged dangerous when he takes off.
3. While the Aztec offense starts with their running game, quarterback Ryan Katz has been having a good season in his own right (1,328 passing yards and 13 touchdowns against 4 interceptions) on just 22.7 pass attempts per game. Even for a run-first team, why isn’t Katz getting more opportunities to pass?
Some of it has to do with the strong running game, and some of it has to do with shaky pass protection. Like I said, Katz tucks it under quite a bit, and only some of that is by design. He does a fair amount of running for his life, too.
4. San Diego State and Nevada are both giving up a lot of passing yards. While Nevada can attribute their struggles to a young, inexperienced line with an inconsistent pass rush, where have the Aztecs’ problems stemmed from?
It’s a totally different situation. The Aztecs can attribute their struggles to a young, inexperienced line with an inconsistent pass rush. Wait … did I say different? I meant exactly the same.
5. The Aztec run defense has been statistically good (116 yards allowed per game and 50 tackles for loss), but aside from Army’s triple option, they haven’t played against any really productive rushing teams. Is this a unit capable of having success against the pistol?
Well, Robbie Rouse at Fresno State isn’t too bad, but your point stands. I’m really not sure if SDSU can stand up to a stellar running team. All of the Aztecs’ opponents have been too busy gouging us for 400 yards through the air to mount much of a ground game.
6. Thanks in part to their resurrection under Brady Hoke and two recent bowl appearances, the Aztecs are headed to the Big East in football next year. Considering the Wolf Pack have played in seven straight bowl games and are poised for an eighth this year, should we just assume their invitation got lost in the mail or…what, exactly?
Psst, come here for a sec. Lean in close and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I wasn’t supposed to say anything but … Conference expansion has absolutely nothing to do with success on the field. Well, maybe not nothing but it’s definitely, like, 16th or 17th on the list. This nonsense is about maximizing television contracts with well-known brands and big, shiny media markets and crap like that. Boise State has national name recognition, so their invite was a no-brainer. When Boise demanded a partner, the Big East chose access to 3 million television sets over a program that actually has a claim to national relevance like Nevada. Do I feel a little guilty about that? A little, I guess. We didn’t really do much of anything to deserve the step-up in profile — we’re well aware of this, believe me. Whew … felt good to get that off my chest. Don’t tell anyone I told you that, OK?
Also, predict the score of this week’s game, if you’d like.
Nevada 45, Aztecs 31. I’ll believe we have a defense when I see it.