“Aztecs Football–Not What It Was”
It was disappointing, though I knew if would be a tough game at Nevada.
It turned out to be a bad loss..damaging SDSU’s possible bowl hopes, and definitely ending its hopes to be in the Mountain West championship game.
The record stands at (3-2) and there seem to be problems, lots of places, on the SDSU football roster.
The two losses, to San Jose State and then to Nevada show glaring deficiencies, both on players and coaches on Montezuma Mesa.
On Saturday the Wolfpack’s coach Jay Norvell, outcoached Brady Hoke and the Nevada defense took away alot of things from the play-calls made by SDSUs’ Jeff Hecklinski.
And the overall player production has been staggering in the two losses this season.
The Aztecs stayed in there and slugged with Nevada in a back and forth first half. SDSU kept QB-Carson Strong out of the end zone, forcing UNR to settle for field goals.
Tariq Thompson and Kaden McDonald may have had the finest games of their careers.
SDSU hit a couple of big plays to Jesse Matthews, but the non-use of the tight ends and the other WRs is on the coaching staff.
Granted they gave up 50-and-59 yard completions for Wolfpack’s star receiver Romeo Doubs, but State forced UNR into alot of 3rd down situations and negated home run plays. The Pack had 1-TD on 5-trips into the red zone. But the 3-point field goals add up when the other guy stops scoring.
On offense,Georgia Tech transfer Lucas Johnson came out throwing, moving the ball and keeping SDSU in the game, but injuries took away the power of RB-Greg Bell, and a hamstring cramp impacted Johnson in the second half.
But Norvell made adjustments and Hoke suffered in the second half.
To get the blitz pressure off his QB, Nevada kept a running back Toa Tuala in to pass block, negating the blitz and allowing Strong to hit passes for big yardage gains in the 2nd half.
And Nevada started blitzing the running lanes in the 2nd half, taking away the ability of SDSU to do what it does best, play power ball.
And much like the bad loss to San Jose State, an Aztecs offensive line fell apart in the second half. They did not handle the pass rush, they never got the gap rush blocked, never got to the second level to spring running backs, and could not protect Johnson and then Carson Baker in the second half.
And who could have thought San Diego State would go 5-straight 3-and-out series in the second half on offense, and would finish the half with 32-snaps for a net of 42-yards.
At one point the Wolfpack had a (41-28) snap advantage, playing at altitude. It foretold problems ahead.
The punt return issues continued, twice failing to field punts that bounced by Matthews and put SDSU is horrid field position in the 2nd half. Starting inside your own 10 with struggling quarterbacks is not a formula to win games.
Compounding it all were penalties, a bunch of them..a roughing the QB on 3rd down…a bad facemask flag and a costly pass interference, all on the same TD drive by UNR.
There’s alot of work to be done. Johnson’s ability to throw consistently is an issue. The regression of Baker, unable to cope with pocket pressure, is stunning. The mystery of what’s happened to the offensive line needs to be addressed.
And all this with the schedule showing 3-road games in the final 4-weeks of the season…knowing full-well unbeaten BYU is out there to be played the final week of the season.
Losing badly to San Jose State a couple of weeks ago, a Spartans team that had 1-winning season in 13-years, was stunning. Losing to Nevda, which is still unbeaten, isn’t all that upsetting, but what is happening within the program, with players and units going in the wrong direction, has to be recognized.
I thought the Aztecs would go (7-0) in the conference leading into the BYU finale. This team might not even finish with a .500 mark unless Hoke and his staff stop the breakdowns.
SDSU is the only team in town. They want to be viwed as a replacement for the NFL team that left town. That being the case, they will be evaluated, complimented and critiqued, eventhough these are college kids, the NFL paid pros.
Aztecs football, not what it used to be, not what we have come to expect.