Aztecs D looks to rebound against Spartans

San Diego State (2-1, 0-0 MWC) had their worst defensive performance of the season last Saturday against North Dakota when they gave up 489 yards of total offense and 41 points. San Jose State now comes to town, how will the Aztecs bounce back from their last outing?

San Diego State (2-1, 0-0 MWC) had their worst defensive performance of the season last Saturday against North Dakota when they gave up 489 yards of total offense and 41 points.

"We lost some confidence because going into the game I thought we were very confident," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. "So we lost some confidence. It's been told to our players, hopefully that means to our players that we've got to go back and we've got to get a whole lot better fundamentally at what we're doing."

The Aztecs did win the game 49-41 but the defensive unit doesn't look as strong as they were once perceived a few weeks ago.

"A lot of defensive guys are disappointed in the lack of our execution on our half," SDSU cornerback Josh Wade said.

"We just didn't make enough plays on third and fourth down to get them off the field. They found a way to keep drives alive. It was disappointing for the defensive backs especially. We talk amongst ourselves, and we know we have to get a lot better for this week because it's going to be another challenge come this Saturday."

SDSU will now welcome San Jose State (2-1, 0-0 WAC) to Qualcomm Stadium this Saturday. The Spartans are coming in extremely confident after defeating Colorado State 40-20.

"San Jose State, after watching a lot of film, they're really good," Long said. "You can look at their scores over the last three weeks and just tell that they're really good. I know that it's been a little while since we've played them, but the last two times San Jose State has played us, they've won in very impressive fashion."

SJSU has a balanced offensive unit, averaging 323 passing yards and 142 rushing yards per game.

"They're explosive," Long said. "They threw for 400 something yards last week against Colorado State. Quarterback (David Fales) is fifth or sixth in the country or something like that for percentage of completions. He's got three good receivers he throws to. They've got a couple pretty good running backs. They're good."

The largest concern heading into this game for SDSU could be the lack of pressure they have created against opposing quarterbacks.

"Hopefully we can get a pass rush with four guys," Long explained. "It's a fundamental issue, it's not a scheme issue. You can only scheme people so much, and after a while, if you play good football teams, you've got to be able to -- in order to play decent pass defense, you've got to be able to rush four guys and get some decent heat on the quarterback."

To be able to get pressure SDSU will have to get past an SJSU offensive line that has only given up 6 sacks this season.

"San Jose is not as big (as North Dakota's offensive line), but they're more athletic," Long explained. "We're not going to be engulfed as bad as we were against North Dakota."

"But until we get a decent pass rush with four guys, our pass defense is very suspect."

The numbers don't lie either.

Aztecs defense gave up 434 passing yards including 4 touchdowns to North Dakota, an FCS team in the Big Sky conference. UND quarterback Marcus Hendrickson dropped back more than 60 times and was only sacked 4 times.

If the Aztecs are not able to get pressure on SJSU QB David Fales with a four-man pass rush, they will be forced to bring the blitz putting their secondary in man-to-man coverage.

"The trouble with man coverage is if one guy makes one false step, instead of a 10-yard catch, it's an 80-yard catch," Long explained.

"If you can't get a pass rush with four guys, you've got to take some chances and blitz them, and then you're really taking some chances of giving up big plays."

"It does put a little bit more pressure on us, being able to stay in coverage a little bit more," SDSU cornerback Leon McFadden said. "Our secondary is experienced, so we are able to handle that task."

During the shootout with the Fighting Sioux, SDSU had the benefit of facing a one-dimensional offense. The Spartans on the other hand are able to pound the rock.

"San Jose has got a much better running game (than North Dakota)," Long said. "They've got two better running backs and they run a lot of pro set and they have more success running power plays and zone plays and all that."

Aztec fans will have a good idea early on, how the SDSU defense will fare in the game.

Will the D be able to bring consistent pressure with only four guys?

If not, SDSU could be in for another high scoring affair.


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