Talking About SDSU

Total Blue Sports caught up with Cougar defenders to get their thoughts on what they expect to see from the Aztecs on the road this Saturday. The Cougars will be playing for the BYU football program's 500th win and hope to improve on their 5-1 record.

There have been some changes at San Diego State, and some of those are familiar to the Cougars both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Offensively, the Aztecs run a traditional west coast-style offense. It's an offensive set similar to what was seen in Provo under LaVell Edwards long ago and to what is seen now under Robert Anae.

"It's a very traditional style of running game," said Matt Bauman. "They run a lot of power, two-back sets. They don't run the ride and spread that you see from Utah or Utah State. They don't have much of that. They run a set that we practice against here in our own offense, so we're really excited to face that style of offense because we've faced it so much. We've faced it against Oklahoma and against Colorado State as well as our own offense, so we're ready."

"Yeah, it's what we see here at BYU," said Scott Johnson. "It's a thing where you know it's coming but you can't stop it. It comes down to having talent and being able to execute. If you are able to read the extra keys and be a little bit closer, then your talent level looks that much better when you face a team that runs similar aspects as your team does, for example the split of the backs. If you can read the guards pulling before the play happens, the linebackers can align themselves better according to what they see in order to be a half-second quicker. Somebody has to win out, and there are different things that can happen that allow that even though two teams run and practice against a similar style of offense."

The SDSU offense uses a variety of players in different ways much like BYU does. In fact, SDSU will even bring in a tight end, much like BYU has done with Vic So'oto, Braden Brown and Kaneakua Friel, to lead block for the running backs.

"They got some great talent and use different running backs with different strengths," said Bauman. "They use [Walter Kazee] quite a bit and [Matthew Kawulok], who is kind of their utility guy. I know he's a tight end too but they'll line him up in the backfield and use him as a blocker for the running backs. They like to rotate their backs in and out a lot and give a lot of the guys the ball."

Other backs figuring to receive some playing time are halfbacks Anthony Miller (6 feet, 220 pounds) and Brandon Sullivan (5 feet 10 inches, 215 pounds), and fullback Willie Walters (6 feet 2 inches, 225 pounds).

"The split of the backs is a thing they cater too," said Johnson. "There are a number of runs they can do out of that formation. The one thing you'll see is a number of backs they use and how they're split and how deep they are. That usually gives you some idea on what type of a play they are going to run from those formations and the type of backs that are in."

On the edges San Diego State has some tall receivers. One is 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound senior DeMarco Sampson. Behind Sampson is 6-foot-4-inch, 225-pound senior D.J. Sheilds, who will rotate on occasion.

"Their wide receivers are tall athletes, kind of like at UNLV," Bauman said. "They have some good receivers from what we've seen on film, so we'll have to respect that. They can spread you out and use their size to create problems for the secondary."

One receiver that can really create problems for BYU is 6-foot, 180-pound junior Vincent Brown, who continues to move up the SDSU reception charts. Brown is also reaching a level where he could become the nation's leader in receiving yards, and has posted four 100-yard receiving games this season. He also has a touchdown in all five games this season as well. Brown will be the biggest receiving threat to the Cougar secondary.

"From what we've seen on film they try and throw it downfield," said Bauman. "I don't know if that's their primary strength. I feel their strength is in their run game, and that's what they want to try and establish because it's their strength. They're definitely a run-first team and that's what they want to do. If the run doesn't work then they will turn to the pass a little bit."

San Diego State is currently developing two young quarterbacks within their program, but sophomore Ryan Lindley will start against the Cougar defenders this Saturday. As a freshman, Lindley started in 10 games and completed 242-of-427 passes for 2,653 yards and 16 touchdowns. He finished the season 24th nationally in passing average.

"The quarterback is pretty good, but he's obviously not as good as, say, [Sam] Bradford or their quarterback [Kevin] O'Connell that they had a few years ago," said Bauman. "I don't know if he's quite as good as him because he's still developing and a bit younger, but he is a good athlete and has a lot of potential."

There is some youth at the offensive line position for San Diego State, though they do return some experience as well. That includes center Trask Iosefa.

"Their line is kind of young," said Cougar nose guard Russell Tialavea. "Their center is pretty good and I think he is returning. I think he's Polynesian and remember him from last year. I think he's from Hawaii. I know they have a couple of Polynesians on their offensive line. I think one plays at the right guard spot and he's pretty big and the other plays at left tackle and he's also pretty big.

"They do have some experience but they also have some new guys," Tialavea continued. "The key for us will be our consistency in stopping the run, so we have to make sure we play well up front."

The buzz around the Cougar defenders is that stopping the run will come first, as they believe the Aztecs will come out wanting to establish their running game.

Total Blue Sports Top Stories