Webster's dictionary defines the word like this: n. a member of the Nahuatl people who established an empire in Mexico that was overthrown by Cortes in 1519 . So, basically, it is a term of endearment.
DARREN YOU TO STOP HIM
When you see a picture of Aztec QB Darren Mougey, you can see why there is a buzz around him. The kid has a physique that people dream about. He has all the natural tools to be a superstar. But, the funny thing, he was a back-up coming into the season, and the coaches were trying to find a position to use his abilities. OK, the tools. In the offseason, he works with the same trainer that Donovan McNabb uses. One of our message board posters had a picture of the two working out (who looks more like the athlete?). Mougey is said to have run a 4.5 forty-yard dash. He is able to do 19 reps on the 225 bench press test, and can throw a football 60 yards FLAT-footed (without a run). So, he has talents. When returning starter Kevin O'Connell went down to injury last week, in came Darren to try and save the day (the Aztecs trailed UTEP 27-3 at the time). In, basically, one and a half quarters of football, this kid threw for 178 yards and ran for another 41 (13 carries). Oh, by the way, he scored two touchdowns…both running (1, 14). He brings to mind the name Matt Jones - QB at Arkansas turned first-round draft pick wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Badger fans can now be happy that the team saw a preview (running only) during the BGSU game in Freddie Barnes.
HAMILTON EATS GROUND CHUCK
Honestly, when I think of San Diego State football, I think of quick pace, run-n-gun football. But, times have changed. As I stated in my predictions column a few weeks ago, new head coach Chuck Long is a traditionalist. He wants to use the team to help the talent - not the other way around. The Aztecs return the best running back prospect on campus since a guy named Marshall Faulk played there. Lynell Hamilton became only the second freshman RB in the history of the program to top 200 yards in a game. The shifty runner may have topped Faulk's long-standing freshman rushing record had it not been for an ankle injury that kept him from playing in the final two games. He totaled 1,087 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Hamilton also caught 26 balls, so he is a dual threat. UTEP held him from running wild in the first game (20 carries - 40 yards), but he had six receptions for 64 yards. We have already talked about the ability of Mougey. Jonathon Casillas, Joe Stellmacher, Mark Zalewski, and DeAndre Levy are going to be busy.
AZTECS GET DEFENSIVE
In their first game of the season, the Aztecs gave up 273 yards of total offense and forced five turnovers. They held UTEP QB Jordan Palmer, Cincinnati Bengal QB Carson Palmer's little brother, to just 208 yards passing. For some people, that is a great game. Not for a guy who threw for 3500 yards in 2005. San Diego State runs a mixture of 4-3, 3-4, 4-4, and 5-2. Being a traditional guy, you can expect to see the 3-4 or 4-3 sets blended in the most. Much like Wisconsin, the Aztecs only had to replace three starters on the defensive side of the all. The "Dark-Side D" as they are referred to will play up to seven defensive backs on a rotation. Key players to watch: SS- 31 Reggie Grigsby, CB - 9 Terrell Maze, MLB - 51 Joe Martin, and DT - 91 Oman Nwansi. They were ranked by many publications as the best returning defense in the Mountain West.
HIGH PORCH PICNIC
When Coach Bielema and Coach Long meet at the 50, it will mark yet another branch being grown from the Hayden Fry coaching tree. The two head men worked together at their alma mater (Iowa) during the mid-late 1990's on Coach Fry's staff. Both are very traditional coaches that will do things the right way and not get fancy. Bielema is 2-0 in his career as a head coach, while Long lost his only game at the helm of the Aztecs. They will exchange a hand shake, respect, a smile, and a nod to Coaches Fry and Alvarez in the luxury box. After that, they are not going to exchange any thing but playing football.
BADGERING THE OPPONENT
The BGSU Falcons sort of had their way, at times, against the Wisconsin defense. Unfortunately, they are going to see a similar style of running on Saturday. Even more unfortunate: this kid can throw the ball, too. Look for a lot of 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 formations from Defensive Coordinator Hank Hankwitz to try and offset the running ability of Mougey and Hamilton. It will also alleviate the pressure that Hamilton places on you to cover him out of the backfield. The more speed and space you can cover, the less damage an offense can force against you. Wisconsin is not a team that will give up the big play very often. So, if Coach Long wants to beat them, he better be patient and willing to take what the other team gives him. Or, as Coach Fry might say, "you have to scratch where it itches."
Wisconsin is giving up 273.5 yards per game, which is 37th in the NCAA and fourth in the Big Ten. The passing defense ranks 13th nationally while allowing opponents just 124 yards per game.
SOME STATISTICS THAT MIGHT BE A LITTLE OFFENSIVE
Through the first two games of the season, Wisconsin is ranked 10th in the Big Ten in total offense, and 78th in the NCAA. If you were to tell me that before the season, I would have guessed the team might be 1-1. San Diego State is 33rd in total offense, just ahead of Big Ten school Iowa. The Aztec defense is number 20 in the land, giving up just the 243 yards in one game against UTEP. Both team rank in the upper half in scoring offense, with the Badgers also doing well in the scoring defense category (24th).
Individually, RB PJ Hill ranks 15th in the nation with his per game rushing average of 115.5. He is the third ranked freshman in the same category. You might remember the number one guy: Freddie Barnes. Wisconsin's punting average of 44.0 is ranked ninth. Both teams are top 30 in the kickoff coverage category.
THE FINAL WORDS: I LIKE IKE
I think my original score prediction on this one might be a bit low. I just do not see the Aztecs putting up only 17 points, If BGSU can get 14, I see SDSU getting 21. But, I see the Badgers dropping another 35'er. The defense will bend and bend, but not break. Mougey will start out a bit nervous, but will play a good ball game. Stocco will get some protection. PJ Hill gets the hat trick of 100's. This week's pick to click: Isaac Anderson. He has been moving up the depth chart with unselfish play on and off the field. Ike deserves a score and the Badgers move back into the top 25 where they will stay…at least one week. BADGERS 35, SDSU 21
Now that is a High Porch Picnic we can all enjoy.