Upset City, Progress Made, Position Battles

San Diego State football capped off spring camp with their annual spring game, as Red (second team) upset Black (first team) 13-10. Progress has been made, setting the Aztecs up well for fall camp and next season. Position battles remain heated at the No. 2 running back spot, cornerbacks, tight end and along the offensive line...

San Diego State football held their annual spring game on Saturday afternoon, as Red (second team) upset Black (first team) 13-10.

"I'm not surprised at all when you turn the ball over," SDSU head coach Rocky Long said when asked if he was surprised Red won. "We had the same problem with the bowl game. If you're ahead, have control and turn the ball over by fumbling or throwing an interception there's a real good chance of you losing the game. That's what happened today."

That's exactly how the backups won, on the defensive side of the ball, forcing an interception by starting quarterback Adam Dingwell and recovering two fumbles.

"First team offense turned the ball over three or four times and the second offense only turned it over once," Long said. "That's the biggest thing. If you're in a tight game of any kid, the biggest thing is the turnovers."

Dingwell was just 7-of-13 passing on the day for 90 yards with no touchdowns. His Black squad got out early with an opening drive score that was capped off by a trick play.

New offensive coordinator Bob Toledo had one up his sleeve where Dingwell threw a lateral to left tackle and former tight end Bryce Quigley, who galloped in for the 13-yard rushing touchdown.

"He (Toledo) just wanted to show the fans we'll have a trick play in every week," Long said. "A lot of them work too. I actually think that was a forward pass and that makes it illegal but they didn't call it that way. It has to be a lateral."

JuCo walk-on quarterback Quinn Kaehler, who was backing up Dingwell, led Black's next possession down the field for a methodical drive. It resulted in a 49-yard field goal by Wes Feer, 10-0.

Kaehler finished the game completing all seven-pass attempts for 55 yards.

"He completes passes and that's our job as a quarterback," Dingwell said of Kaehler. "He comes out here and competes just like everyone of us. If he's going to make us better then we are glad to have him."

Dingwell later led the last drive of the half for a 40-yard field goal attempt by Feer, which was blocked by Jon Sanchez.

Black up 10-0 at intermission.

The second half started with another Derek Largent sack. He had three sacks on and has also gained 10 pounds this offseason.

"We have gotten used to each other after playing a whole season together," Largent, explained how the defense has progressed. "We know each others weaknesses, strengths so we can work off that together to get a good pass rush. We have a long way to go where we want to be."

Long agreed with Largent to an extent.

"Well some of the time when it was Largent making the play it was a four-man rush so that means we are better," Long said. "A lot of those were blitzes and we always try to get man free on a blitz."

Two players on Red's defense would ultimately decide the game: Mahbu Keels and TJ Hickman.

"Mahbu (Keels) made a couple nice plays late," Long said. "TJ (Hickman) had a chance to be player of the game but missed a couple sacks. He made a couple nice plays too."

Keels was part of creating three turnovers himself: huge hit on tight end Mike Miller forcing a fumble, recovering a Chase Price fumble and intercepting Dingwell, returning it to the opponents 15-yard line in the final minutes as Black was trying to close the game out.

Price, playing for both squads, would later rush up the left side for the 13-yard game-winning touchdown.

13-10. Red wins.

Position Battles

No. 2 Running Back

Star running back Adam Muema was missing in action on this day so the opportunity in the form of carries was there for the taking.

Price was leading rusher on the day with 12 carries for 60 yards plus the score, but he also fumbled twice, losing one to the opposition.

"I don't think anyone has established themselves as the second best running back," Long described. "If you noticed are starting running back didn't play today that was by designed. That's because we have great faith in Adam (Muema) and we are trying to let one of the others prove they should be the second running back. I don't think anyone did that today."

Dwayne Garrett and De'Saan Hardwick were the next two leaders, combining for just nine carries and 14 yards. Hardwick lost a fumble late in the game.

"I think they are all good running backs," Dingwell said. "All have a ton of potential. They can be as good as they want to be. Every time they step in the building they come to work. I have the utmost confidence in all those guys."


Damontae Kazee and Pierre Romain with the first team.

"I'll have to watch film but up until today we thought he was second best, maybe the best, corner out there," Long said of Kazee. "That's all up in air. We have J.J. Whittaker, who will be back, and King Holder who will be back."

Whittaker has been dealing with a shoulder injury that he's ben dealing with for about a week or two.

"They let him practice but don't let him do any of the collision stuff," Long explained. "He gets to do everything that is not tackling."

Offensive Line

Coach Long previously stated that three offensive linemen cemented their starting spots.

Not anymore.

"I think there's a lot of competition going on but I think we are comfortable with Japeth Gordon, comfortable with Bryce Quigley and I think the other three spots are up in the air," Long said.

Those three spots are Zack Dilley at center who will have to earn that starting gig as well as the right guard and right tackle positions.

To be continued.

Tight Ends

Stats don't tell everything, especially when talking about the tight end position.

The group only combined for four catches for 28 yards in the scrimmage but coaches shouldn't have an idea who played well until they examine the film.

"Everyone got to play," Long explained. "Guys got to play a lot more than a normally would so everyone has a chance to play or not play. How they played today will make us look at them differently come fall camp, good and bad."

Robert Craighead, who converted back to tight end during spring camp, had pair of catches for 22 yards. He also steamrolled some defensive back tackles.

"He's come a long way from day one in spring," Dingwell said of Craighead. "He's had a very good spring. I think he's going to be a heck of a player."

Finishing Notes

-Walk-on slot receiver Tim Vizzi had team-highs in receptions (5) and receiving yards (51) today.

"Vizzi comes out here, works hard everyday which I love, along with everybody else," Dingwell said. "He was open today so I was trying to throw him ball."

-Coach Long pointed to the linebacker core to having the most depth.

"We have more quality linebackers than any other position," Long said. "I think we have two deep for sure, maybe two and a half deep."

-No decision has been made on the four suspended players (K/P Seamus McMorrow, WR Larry Clark, DB Darrius Guillory and RB Brandon Wright). Long described the timetable for the decision as, "who knows."

-How much of the new offense did Toledo implement on Saturday?

"I think we got quite a bit in," Toledo explained. "What I tried to do is expose them to a lot of things, even though, we didn't do them well so we can draw from it in the fall. I'm pleased with what we did. Few things we didn't do that I would have liked to do but didn't have time to do it. We'll build on what he did right now."

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