From Chance to Automatic

Senior kicker Chance Marden earned Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week. Who would have thought that a few weeks ago? Not Marden...

It was earlier this season when San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said he would no longer punt or kick field goals on 4th down when crossing onto the opponents side of the field.

The 4th down strategy lasted for a game.

It didn't seem like a bad idea after kicker Chance Marden went for a combined 0-for-3 on field goals in the second and third games of the season.

But Long stuck with the game plan and the senior.

Since then Marden has connected on his last seven field goal attempts.

"He's kicked the ball really well," Long said. "And I'm sure in his case the confidence factor is a big deal. It' really is a big deal for kickers."

The second year head coach thinks Marden has become much more comfortable due to reps, this is his first time he has played football since high school.

"Obviously, you saw it the other night," Long explained. "He made three of them. One with 3 seconds left on the clock to put it into overtime. That's a pretty confident kicker. Our kickers have improved more than anybody else on our team."

What has been the biggest change since the beginning of the season?

"Just getting used to the routine," Marden explained. "Just going out there every day, doing the same things, knowing how to manage the game properly and knowing that I should take a couple of kicks into the net and not over kick throughout the game. Stay mentally in it. So it's just a learning process, and it's going well now."

It's going so well that the soccer player turned placekicker earned Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week.

Who would of thought that a few weeks ago?

Not Marden.

"I wouldn't say conference special teams player," Marden said. "Definitely just having a chance to help my team was the most important thing. Giving them the opportunity to win is my job as a kicker, and to come through like that on this stage is an amazing feeling."

Moving on up

Senior wide out Dominque Sandifer rose to the top of the depth chart at the "Z" receiver spot after 5 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown against Nevada.

"He caught several passes," Long said. "A couple of them were difficult catches and the run he made on a bubble screen that scored a touchdown was a great play. Either that or it was a terrible tackle by their safety depending on which team you're rooting for."

But just like any position on SDSU, it's a weekly competition for the starting role.

Sandifer currently is second in receptions (17) for the Aztecs.

All-around program

The San Diego State athletic department as a whole is hitting on all cylinders. The men's basketball team was recently preseason ranked #20 in the nation, the women's soccer team just won a conference championship and is ranked 6th in the nation and the list goes on.

"What you have is a great organization from the top down," Long said. "You have experienced, quality coaches that have done a good job recruiting and then they can put their players in a position where they can perform. And if they're good enough, they perform well and win some games."

Aztecs are just not a basketball program but a well-rounded athletic program.

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