San Diego State 101: Time To Put Up

THE WARM-UPS are over. Returning all key personnel from a team that has won 11 of their last 15 games, San Diego State is for real. The Aztecs have a juggernaut offense and a veteran defense. They believe all pieces are in place for conference title run and more. But…

But, wunderkind coach Brady Hoke has left San Diego for the greener pastures of Michigan, (SDSU's next opponent by the way and something that could be a factor). How much of the Aztec's success came from the coaching remains to be seen. The Aztecs are anxious to prove their worth, but could they get caught looking ahead?

Cougars (2-0) vs Aztecs (2-0)
3:30 pm Pacific Time

Qualcomm Stadium (71,400)

The Mountain, (available in all nine Mountain West Conference markets on a variety of providers. Outside of those nine markets, available nationally only on DirecTV [CHANNEL 616......with the HD broadcast slated for CHANNEL 616-a]. As always, an angry Lance contributed to the broadcast information.)

The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

SDSU by 7

WSU won in Seattle in 2007 45-17.

Washington State Leads 1-0.

See below


Players to Know
Ryan Lindley, QB: The senior has started all four seasons at SDSU and holds most the school records. Big framed and big armed, he's a contender for the Davey O'Brien award.
Ronnie Hillman, RB: Although only a sophomore, Hillman is already the considered the best back the Aztecs have had since Marshall Faulk. He blazed away to 1,532 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman and is on an early pace to surpass those numbers this year.

Anytime you return a four year starting quarterback and the league's leading rusher, the offense is going to be potent. The offensive line returns four starters from last year as well, but the receivers are very green. The Aztecs are implementing their third different offense in three seasons. OC Andy Ludwig is pretty familiar to the Cougs from his past stints at Oregon State and Cal. SDSU will run a pro-style offense anchored around Hillman. Lindley's poise and experience will be key as teams are certain to key on the run.

The Ludwig offense is all about efficiency. Get them in third-and-long and things fall apart. Containing Hillman is huge, but the Cougs can't over extend themselves. Lindley will happily pick them apart with quick passes if the Cougs crowd the line of scrimmage. The promising Cougar secondary needs to take a big step forward on Saturday. They will be asked to lend a hand in run support and hold their own in single coverage.


Players to Know
Miles Burris, OLB: Outside linebacker in the Will Derting-mold. A hard-nosed free lancer who is always around the ball and quick to blitz when opportunities present themselves. Lead the conference with 9.5 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss last season..
Leon McFadden, CB: A converted receiver who has earned a reputation as a shut-down corner. The Aztecs utilize his speed on special teams too.

With Rocky Long still in place, little changes from last year on SDSU's defense. The Aztecs run a base 3-3-5 and have a ton of experience up front. The secondary is the biggest question mark but McFadden is rock solid.

The three man front disguises a defense which will quickly storm the line of scrimmage. The Cougs have to attack the secondary but Lobbestael will need to make his reads quickly against a shifting secondary full of defenders. Having faced consecutive triple-option offenses in Army and Cal Poly, the Coug receivers need to be a rude awakening for the Aztec defenders.

The Aztecs are solid at both kicking positions. Punter Brian Stahovich led the Mountain West in punting average and big legged kicker Abel Perez converted 17-22 attempts last season.

  • The Cougs aren't alone -- this is SDSU's first big test, as well. They are anxious to prove their sudden rise to success last season wasn't just a result of Brady Hoke's coaching and Al Borges offensive genius.

  • Hoke and Borges were quick to cash in on their instant success, leaving SDSU for Michigan. The reunion with at Michigan next week is understandably on everyone's mind and the Cougs may be able to take advantage of that. By the time the first quarter ends, it should be apparent whether it's a factor or not.

  • Assuming it's a close game entering the fourth quarter, SDSU is undersized up front on the defensive line, but quick. And their linebackers and secondary hit will hit and hit hard. But if WSU can lean on them for three quarters and use their size against the Aztec d-line, the fourth quarter running lanes should be there.

    Cougs 38, Aztecs 33

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