San Diego State football…it started badly and ended worse.
When the best part of opening day was walking into a shiny new stadium, watching the players come down the Aztecs Warrior Walk, see the explosive fans in the Show’s End Zone seats and now the players reacted, it was pretty impressive.
And that was the extent of the highlights of opening day at Snapdragon Stadium.
It was played in oppressive mid-day heat of 100-degrees at kickoff, an all time record.
The first snap from scrimmage was an unorthodox 5-wide receiver set that led to new quarterback Braxton Burmeister taking a 7-yard sack putting them in second and long. It was like that all afternoon.
When Arizona went to the locker room with a (38-20) one sided win, it was an exclamation point loss for SDSU and an alarming notification of how much work they have to do.
They lost the game, its quarterback got hurt and pulled with a bruised shoulder, the defense was on the field all afternoon long.
Jaylen McLaura, a transfer from Washington State, spent the day torching SDSU’s talented secondary, throwing for 299-yards and 4TDs. His wide receiver Jacob Cowling, a transfer from UTEP, ran routes all day, finishing (8R-152Y-3TD).
State’s reputation is built arund its defense, the one that was gashed for 453-yards and this was to an Arizona team that was (1-23) the last two years.
It was awful on the field, and awful in the stands.
There had to be 10,000 no shows, even with the crowd being announced at just over 34,000. By halftime both upper decks were empty and the once full student section, the Show in the End Zone, bailed either sunburned or drunk or both. The smattering of fans left booed at the end
How hard was it for Burmeister? 1-sack, 6-pressures, 10-QB hits. The right side of his offensive line, both redshirt freshman, could not hold up against stunts, twists and bull rushes. When they added a blocking tight end to that side of the line, Burmeister then started to take hits coming off the left side.
Brady Hoke lamented bad tackling, ‘worst I have seen around here’ but Arizona’s massive offensive line just crushed the pass rushers.
The secondary is still running around trying to find Cowling on his pass routes..
There was a punishing blocked punt that led to another score.
And even if the defense found its second wind in the second half, with two takeaways and a blocked punt for a TD, they were MIA for much of the 60-minutes torch job in the oppressive heat.
Hoke stood in there and answered the questions, unlike the horrors of last Monday’s press conference, when he got up and walked out in the aftrermath of questions about the rape incident last fall, His closing comment ‘we all share the blame in this loss’ was right on.
‘I don’t like seeing my quarterback take all these hits’ referenced the battering Burmeister took.
‘The young right tackles have gotten better’, but there’s no option because Josh Simmons is the best of the young horses and has to play and learn. ‘It’s the hardest position for a young player to play’ said his his head coach.
Expressing unhappiness at what he saw, ‘our defense should travel-it always has’. And head admitted just one game in ‘we are not what we have been’.
It only counts as one game, one ugly loss, but the fact it was to a horrible Pac 10-program makes you worry how much work needs to be done at SDSU.
The game was probably a ‘1-off’. A 1-pm start in torrid 100-degree heat. This venue will will look-feel-maybe sound better when we play night games. But you wonder if the fans will be chased away by the really high ticket prices set by SDSU.
Hoke coached Michigan in a game at the Rose Bowl with UCLA where the onfield temperatures reached 114. His team did not have cramp problems, just got crushed.
EMS people say 35-people were transported to hospitals with heat related issues.
How fans stayed in their seats was amazing, considering how fierce the sun was. A warm breeze in the upper level of the stadium may have made it somewhat tolerable earlier. Lots of fans went underneath to hang in the shade in bars and walkways.
It was something to see-hear the ‘Show’ in the end zone deliver their favorite chant ‘I believe-we will win’. It was classy to see the players go to that End Zone and kneel in a team prayer before the start of the game.
The anthem and flyover was neat.
The fans booed President delLa Torre, when introduced in pregame, the fallout from her stance on the rape investigation.
The press box, stuffed into an end zone, not at mid field, was too small and without air conditioning or fans. But then again, that was an odd day game in the blistering heat. Won’t be like the rest of the year, though the sightlines are tough when the ball goes down the other end of the field.
What a crap week for Hoke, the reputation of the football program and the university sullied by the Matt Araiza investigation, then his QB gets hurt, and his team plays really poorly.
Lots of season left, but lots of work to be done.
Rotting for fall weather to get here sooner than later. Waiting for night games with Idaho State and Toledo to give the stadium a different look-feel.
Like I said, when the pregame ceremony was the best part of opening day, you know it was a lousy loss.
Better days ahead for State, but there is lots of work to do.