San Diego State vs. Army
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: KOGO, 95.7 FM & AM 600
Line: SDSU by 6.5
Facts and History
-San Diego State (0-1, 0-0 MWC) welcomes Army (0-0) to Qualcomm Stadium for their home opener. The stadium is home of the San Diego Chargers and it holds 54,000.
-SDSU is 32-10-1 in home opening games during the Division I era. They have won three straight with their last loss coming to Cal Poly in 2008.
-The two programs have played once in their history as SDSU defeated Army in West Point (NY) this past season 23-20 on a 4th quarter field goal.
-The Aztecs are 15-19 all-time against service academies, 4-0 since 2010.
-Army is ranked 52nd and San Diego State 71st in the Sagarin Ratings.
When San Diego State Has The Ball
Aztecs will be looking to improve off a 12-point performance against Washington. In that game they turned the ball over three times (two led to touchdowns), four sacks and heavy pressure on quarterback Ryan Katz. With Army 10th in the nation this past season for time of possession, Katz and company will need to be efficient with their time on the field. We could see a heavy load from the three-headed monster — Walter Kazee, Adam Muema and Chase Price — as Army struggled against the run last season (100th in the nation).
Extra reps for the offensive line and a less aggressive team in Army with blitz packages should give Katz more time to throw. Colin Lockett, Gavin Escobar, Ezell Ruffin and Brice Butler could reap the benefits if offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig feels confident and wants to be aggressive with the offense. A balanced attack, good game from the offensive line and limiting the turnovers will help SDSU move the ball a lot in this one.
Edge: San Diego State
When Army Has The Ball
The 3-3-5 defense of SDSU will have to make the tough transition from the pass heavy Washington offense to Army's triple option attack led by fourth-year starting quarterback Trent Steelman. It won't be easy as Army led the nation in rushing (346.50 yards/per game) this past season. The offense only averaged 50 yards passing a game and 97 attempts all season long. Junior running back Raymond Maples returns as well coming off 1,000 yard season.
Yes, the Aztecs hold recent success against the service academies including a win over Army last season, but it doesn't mean they have been successful again the triple option offense.
"It's impossible," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. "…I don't think you can stop it. On a chalkboard you cannot stop a triple option. It's the only offense in the world on the chalkboard you cannot stop."
Army will be looking to stay on the field, limiting the possessions. Aztecs need to get the Black Knights off the field early giving the offense extra touches and the defense more rest.
The special teams carousel continues for the Aztecs as freshman Seamus McMorrow will not only begin to kickoff but will take over the punting duties for Joel Alesi. Chance Marden gets his shot this weekend kicking field goals, well, if Long decides to try one. While Army's special teams doesn't seem to be any better of a situation as their graduated kicker from last season only attempted six field goals in 2011, making three of them. The Black Knights do bring back their punter Chris Boldt who had a solid campaign in ‘11. There is just too much uncertainty from both sides.
The difference in this game could be the excitement of the home opener for Aztecs as well as SDSU having a game under their belt. With no major upcoming home opponents this one should be the loudest crowd of the year and the excitement level will be felt. It's also not easy for schools to travel cross-country. As for having a game under their belt, coach Long said "There are some things that happen in every game, substitution problems, communication between the sidelines and the huddle, or however you get that in from the press box to the sidelines, and that usually gets worked out the first week." While Army will still be adjusting to the first game jitters.
Edge: San Diego State
Aztecs will be prepared for the triple option attack. I do think the Black Knights will be able to move the ball on offense but SDSU will get timely stops on their side of the field. Expect the Aztecs offensive line to create holes for Kazee and Muema, and protect Katz giving his receivers more time to get open. Aztecs win this one.
San Diego State 31 Army 21
Game Day Breakdown: Army at SDSU
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