On Saturday evening (6:00 P.M., TV PPV), the San Diego State Aztecs (2-0) take on the #25 Missouri Tigers (2-0) at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO. San Diego State comes in with a high-powered, balanced offense that is currently ranked sixth nationally. The Aztecs returned nine starters on offense from a year ago, including junior QB Ryan Lindley 6'4" 220.
It is early in the season, but the drastic improvement in the Aztec football program is evident under second-year head coach Brady Hoke. Through Saturday, San Diego State ranks among the top 25 nationally in six major statistical categories [total offense (6th), scoring defense (14th), passing offense (14th), scoring offense (16th), total defense (20th) and rushing offense (21st)].
San Diego State plays a diverse, pro-style offense, and utilizes a three-man front on defense. Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about the challenge of facing the Aztecs.
"They're really good! This is a remarkably different team than a year ago," said Coach Pinkel. "The quarterback is a junior that I think is really, really outstanding! (They have) three receivers that could play in our league in a minute. Their freshman running back was conference player of the week. Defensively, they're playing a thirty defense that presents a lot of problems, because they can blitz so many different people at different times................. This is a really good football team."
Through San Diego State's first two games, Lindley has completed 54% of his pass attempts for 622 yards (311 yds./game) and 3 TDs. He hasn't thrown an interception this season, nor has he been sacked. In addition to averaging over 9 yards per pass attempt, the Aztecs are also averaging over 6 yards per rushing attempt (231 yds./game).
Lindley's top targets are seniors DeMarco Sampson 6'2" 205 (11 receptions for 252 yards and 2 TDs) and Vincent Brown 6'0" 195 (10 receptions for 138 yards), and sophomore Dominique Sandifer 6'0" 190 (4 receptions for 49 yards).
"They're very athletic," said Coach Pinkel, describing SDSU's top receivers. "They run well. They all are very similar size. Sampson's a little bit taller than the other two. The two seniors, you can see the experience level that they have when they run routes, the detail of how they do it. They all have big play potential. They're very, very impressive."
True freshman Ronnie Hillman 5'10" 185 (5.8 yds./carry, 107.5 yds./game) is the Aztecs leading ground gainer. After scoring four second-half TDs against New Mexico State last Saturday, Hillman was named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Senior Davon Brown 5'9" 190 (7.7 yds./carry, 57.5 yds./game) is listed as the starter, giving SDSU a productive pair of backs.
Junior LB Miles Burris 6'3" 235 ( 12 tackles, 1.5 TFLs) and junior DT Jerome Long 6'5" 280 (10 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack) lead a San Diego State defense that returned eight starters from a year ago, although not all of their returning starters are currently starting. Coach Pinkel cited the great job that Coach Hoke and his staff have done in recruiting.
San Diego State's base defense is a 3-3-5. They walk LBs and safeties up to the line of scrimmage, disguising their blitz packages, and bring different combinations of guys in different situations. They've been pretty stingy against both the pass and the run. In the earlier games, the Aztec's have played quite a number of people, but I'm not sure how deep they'll be when going up against a Big 12 team.
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
MIZZOU________________ SAN DIEGO STATE
408.50 [52nd]___ Total Offense____ 547.00 [6th]
145.50 [75th]___Rushing Offense__ 231.00 [21st)
5____________TDs Rushing___________ 8
263.00 [31st]___Passing Offense__ 316.00 [14th]
138.07 [53rd]__ Passing Efficiency__ 144.28 [40th]
3____________TDs Passing____________ 3
36.50 [30th]____Scoring Offense____ 44.00 [16th]
263.00 [25th]___ Total Defense___ 249.50 [20th]
132.50 [63rd]__ Rushing Defense___ 96.50 [29th]
0_________ TDs Allowed Rushing_________ 1
130.50 [20th]___Passing Defense__ 153.00 [31st]
86.20 [13th]___ Pass Effic. Defense__ 102.14 [30th]
2_________ TDs Allowed Passing_________ 2
9.50 [12th]_____Scoring Defense___ 10.50 [14th]
+3.00 [2nd]___ Turnover Margin_ +0.50 [T-40th]
3 / 3________ Fumbles/Lost________ 1 / 1
0_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 0
6_________ Interceptions Gained_________ 0
19.83 [84th]___Kickoff Return Avg.__ 21.20 [66th]
6.83 [72nd]___ Punt Return Avg.____7.43 [68th]
40.00 [32nd]___ Net Punting Avg.___ 43.20 [12th]
2.50 [T-28th]______Sacks By____ 2.00 [T-42nd]
1.00 [28th]_____ Sacks Allowed_____0.00 [T-1st]
29:37 [68th]___ Avg. Time of Poss.___ 30:09 [54th]
46.4% [39th]___3rd Down Conv.___51.7% [21st]
n/a__________4th Down Conv.___ 0.0% [84th]