It was hard to believe what I was seeing, and I am an Ohio Bobcat alum.
I watched my Alma Mater destroy the team I have come to love and respect, Rocky Long’s San Diego State Aztecs.
Ohio beat SDSU at their own game. Ran the football down their throat. Outmuscled them. Punched them in the mouth on defense.
I knew Ohio would be tough to stop, with a Midwest personality power run game. I geared Ohio would hit some big pass plays against a young SDSU secondary, and they did that too.
What I found hard to understand was how a Rocky Long-led program, could fall on such hard times.
It has not been the same Aztecs team since Long engineered a tremendous mid season upset win at Boise State.
It’s not the same Long type team, with the discipline problems on and off the field, that cost him his left tackle and left guard, and an injury to his right tackle ended his season too.
The matchups early on were fun to watch.
Bobcats coach Frank Solich,who has done as much good in Athens, as Long has done on Montezuma Mesa, schooled his quarterback Nathan Rourke in how to handle State’s 3-3-5 defense.
Rourke, a Canadian import, stood at the line of scrimmage, reset blockers, called audibles, see up the run game, and killed State with a play action option run for a TD, and a flea flicker TD bomb.
Ohio steamrolled the SDSU defense with running back AJ Ouellette, powered his way for well over 164-yards rushing and 33-yards in catches, and stayed inside to block the blitz time and time again.
For State, they couldn’t run early. Fred Truvillion fumbled twice. When the game was important, SDSU’s quarterbacks had completed only 9-passes before garbage time. It just wasn’t what we’ve seen over the years up on the hill. Juwan Washington ran for a rugged 140-yards, most in the second half.
What at one point looked like another typical really good Aztecs season, ends with 5-losses in the final 6-games they played. That hasn’t happened wince the Chuck Long days, and that was pretty bad.
Long promises an off season evaluation of how and why this happened.
Coaching turnover, the losses of Bobby Hauck and Danny Gonzalez as coordinators hurt. The injuries upfront changed team chemistry. The discipline issues with key players had never part of this landscape.
Long will also need to evaluate Xs and Os. Running downhill how and playing cement tough defense are calling cards of SDSU football. But somehow, Long has to find a way to recruit some game-breaking wide receivers. The downfield passing game has to be part of SDSU future.
At a school that had such a great passing tradition, from the Dennis Shaw era, to Dan McGwire, David Lowrey, Kevin O’Connell, Ryan Lindley, and all those great receivers, SDSU has to find more still players. When was the last time they had an all conference wide receiver?
It ended with an interception on the final play of the game, but it was a struggle for all 60-minutes.
The scoreboard read (27-0) Ohio.
This isn’t about what happened on a rainy night in Texas. It’s what happened over the second half of what became a lost season. Slouch outreached Rockyball. Rourke outplayed the opposing QBs. Ouellette out pounded Washington. The Cats defense was tougher than State’s.
My Green & White won.
The Red & Black come home with a lot of questions to be answered.
Disappointing bowl loss. Even more, a disappointing season.