San Diego State Recap: Aztecs slay Wildcats, 38-14

San Diego State Recap: Aztecs slay Wildcats, 38-14

San Diego State

San Diego State Recap: Aztecs slay Wildcats, 38-14

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San Diego State Recap: Aztecs slay Wildcats, 38-14


The winning formula is easy: run, defend, turn ball over


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The Aztecs were too hot in the desert

Entering Saturday’s game in Tucson, the Aztecs were facing an Arizona team trying to turn a corner on in their program. Despite losing to BYU, the Arizona Wildcats were encouraged and feeling good, and maybe a little hopeful to face a Mountain West team picked 4th in the West division.

The Aztecs knew they had the pieces to fill out a dominant performance against a Pac-12 opponent: run the ball, play staunch defense, turn the ball over. Saturday’s game was a little vintage Aztec football, not like a Brady Hoke 2009 vintage, but more like a good cellared 2017 Rocky Long vintage.

On the opening San Diego State possession, Greg Bell broke off an explosive 55-yard run to the house and within 2 minutes of game starting, the team from the Mountain West dictated the terms of the game.

San Diego State ran for 162 in the first half with an average of 6.2 yards per rush, and ended the game with 271 rushing yards. The Aztec offensive line was way more physical and handling their blocking assignments. By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Arizona defensive line looked gassed and wanted to return to the bench.

With the run game pushing through the opposing defensive line, Jordon Brookshire refuted all online criticism of his play with statline of 10-for-18 for 183 yards with 2 touchdowns, 1 rush TD. Tight end Daniel Bellinger was the key to getting Brookshire’s groove back catching 3 receptions for 113 yards and 1 touchdown. His accuracy improved and was able to make the plays necessary to keep the defense from overcommitting to the run game.

Aztecs’ defense and special teams showed up. The team held the Wildcats to under 49 rushing yards and 228 total yards, and with Caden McDonald receiving high praise from the Pac-12 Network broadcast team, the senior wrecked through the Arizona offensive line recording 3 tackles and 1 sack. The defense stalled any Wildcat drives with 6 three-and-outs in the first half alone with 10 total in the game and committed an amazing block of Arizona’s punt on their 2nd possession of the game.

Aztecs went into the half up 35-7 with no true response from the men from Tucson and it was clear that Jedd Fisch’s offense was not climbing out of a 5 score deficit hole deep into the 3rd quarter. Starting Wildcat QB Gunner Cruz couldn’t find the open routes under Hoke’s 3-3-5 defense and went 10-for-19 passing for 70 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Without his 43-yard touchdown pass, Cruz’s passes didn’t go longer than 10 yards. He was feeling pressure in his face from Caden McDonald and company recording 3 sacks before getting pulled in favor of sophomore Will Plummer with 5 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

Jedd Fisch is supposed to be the offensive-minded quarterback guru, but it’s pretty clear that they still have a long way to compete in the Pac-12. The Wildcats were ill-equipped to handle the intensity of San Diego State and gone was any momentum carried over against the BYU Cougars. San Diego State had more to prove in the desert. Maybe because some of these Aztecs weren’t offered by any Pac-12 teams, and with a chip on the shoulder like that, there’s no question why SDSU has been 5-2 against Pac-12 programs.

San Diego State played up to its potential this week and almost mistake-free football until the second half hit with some unnecessary defensive penalties extending drives for Arizona. The offense only scored 3-points in the second half and were fortunate that the Wildcats were incapable of clawing back. Brady Hoke went on cruise control for the rest of the game.

Looking towards next week, the Utah Utes goes to Carson with a loss in their Holy War rivalry game with future Big-12 member BYU. If the gritty little Aztecs pull another upset of a Pac-12 team, the Pac-12 South runs through Carson.

*This story was updated to reflect some Aztec players were offered by Pac-12 programs.

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