ASU-SDSU Game Preview

What is the importance of having one game under your belt versus no games? We are sure to find out the answer this week when The San Diego State Aztecs who lost their season opener at home to Arizona 23-10, will travel to Tempe to meet the Arizona State Sun Devils in their season debut.

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The Aztecs looked very disoriented in their loss to the Wildcats, and blowing a 10-0 first quarter lead at home should have some adverse mental affects. How will they rebound against the Devils? Here's a breakdown by position, along with key stats from their game last week:

Quarterback Lon Sheriff: Had less than stellar year throwing for 6 TD's and 11 INT's in ten games last season. In the Arizona he left his six shooter at home, and was 15-30 for 138 yards with no TD's or INT's and many overthrown passes. He did get the hook in that game, and could again be replaced by Adam Hall who transferred from Texas and may have more of an upside. To Sheriff's defense, the O-line did a poor job protecting him, and if the Aztecs intend to go after ASU's young corners their O-line and QB will have to have a 180-degree turn.

Running backs and wide receivers: Larry Ned is the feature back, and probably the most dangerous offensive player for the Aztecs. He played in only six games last year, and his team suffered because of that. Ned scored the lone touchdown for his team against Arizona, but the offensive line woes hurt him too as he rushed for only 43 yards on 21 carries. Ned did have a costly fumble, which led to an Arizona touchdown, so his confidence may be shaken a bit. If the Sun Devils can stop NED, they could literally shut down the Aztecs offense. Starting wide receivers Derrick Lewis and J.R. Tolver didn't make Sheriff look any better. Each had only three catches for 32 and 39 yards respectively. A lot is expected from true freshman Jeff Webb, who only had 2 catches for 12 yards, but is loaded with potential. The Arizona defense did stifle them, and it will be interesting to see how they will do when attacking ASU's young corners who will be on an island quite often in the 4-2-5 scheme the Devils employ.

Defensive line and linebackers: SDSU did sack Arizona's quarterback Johnson three times, and did a decent job defending the run (limiting the Wildcats to 55 yards, but Arizona's Farmer had 90 yards rushing on 21 attempts). The front seven for the Aztecs is probably the strongest unit overall on the team, but they will have their hands full with a ASU and its veteran offensive line and their punishing fullback Mike Karney.

Cronerbacks: To their credit didn't give up buckets of yards (only 176). Furthermore, Arizona only had one passing play to go more than 20 yards. Against ASU they will be heavily tested by the arial attack of coach Koetter, which will be a steeper challenge than Arizona's passing attack.

Special teams: If ASU's team is truly leaps and bounds better than last year, then we should see them greatly exploit the Aztecs, who's special teams are a glaring weakness. This unit committed several flounders against Arizona, and is arguably the biggest contributor for losing last week. Case in point – the SDSU punter dropped a snap that led to a safety, and this unit committed a defensive delay of game on an Arizona field-goal attempt which helped the Wildcats keep their drive alive, and led to an Arizona touchdown. If the match on Saturday becomes a close one, and is left up to special teams to decide the outcome, ASU's special teams should previal.

No out of conference home game against a conceivably weaker opponent, is a given win (remember New Mexico St?). Nevertheless, the Sun Devils are playing an Aztecs team, who's confidence is shaken, while fans and alumni are chanting the familiar tunes of "same old sorry Aztecs". ASU head coach Dirk Koetter would love nothing more than a win in his debut as head coach at home, and he won't let his players think that can merely show up on Saturday night and win. San Diego State is wounded animal right now, which ASU may have to fork its opponent repeatedly and methodically in to prevail and kick off the Koetter era on the right foot.

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