New Mexico vs. San Diego State: Keys to a Lobos Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
Lobos looking for a league win
Danny Gonzales & Rocky Long versus San Diego State in a homecoming of sorts!
WEEK 6: New Mexico Lobos (2-3, 0-1 Mountain West) vs. #25 San Diego State Aztecs (4-0, 0-0 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, October 9 — 9:00 p.m. EST / 6:00 p.m. PST
WHERE: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA (27,000)
TV: Fox Sports 1
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS1, by following this link.
RADIO: 77KOB 96.3 101.5 KGB / XTRA 1360
SERIES RECORD: This will be the 43rd matchup between these two schools. San Diego State leads, 27-15; SDSU has won 7 straight games.
LAST WEEK: San Diego State was on a bye week, while New Mexico lost against Air Force 38-10.
ODDS: San Diego State -19.5
New Mexico Lobos (2-3, 0-1) visit the San Diego State Aztecs (4-0, 0-0). SDSU is coming off a bye while New Mexico lost to Air Force 28-10 last week. This game will air live on FS1 at 9:00 p.m. EST.
Well, if there is one game on the Lobo schedule that has lots of emotional dynamics to it, it’s this game between the New Mexico Lobos and San Diego State Aztecs this Saturday.
It will feature the homecoming of former head Aztec coach Rocky Long and Danny Gonzales, who served as Defensive Coordinator before leaving to ASU to coach with Herm Edwards.
It’s always a bit awkward when close friends who coached together now battle on the gridiron against each other and know each other’s defensive schemes and families off the field as well.
Danny Gonzales and Rocky played football at New Mexico and spent time coaching at UNM before coming to coach the Aztecs, which makes their return emotional, as it were.
A good percentage of players on the Aztec roster were recruited by both Long and Gonzales, which adds to the game’s emotion.
Two players that stand out are running back Jordan Byrd and defensive end Keshawn Banks, both from Albuquerque and were recruited by Gonzales when he was a coach at SDSU.
The Aztecs are 4-0 on the season and ranked No. 25 in the latest AP Poll, and are heavy favorites in this matchup.
Danny Gonzales served on staff from 2011-2017 and his final years as the Aztec’s defensive Coordinator.
Gonzales’ defensive Coordinator Rocky Long is even more familiar with the Aztecs. Long was the defensive Coordinator from 2009-10 before replacing Brady Hoke and serving as head coach from 2011-2019. Long then retired
Rocky Long was not retired very long (no pun intended) before Gonzales encouraged him to come back on staff as the Lobos defensive Coordinator.
Hoke, who was back on staff as the defensive line coach, was promoted to the head coaching job of the Aztecs.
The Lobos offense averages just 16.9 points per game and 300.6 yards per game, 188.2 passing and 112.4 rushing the ball.
This Rocky Long 3-3-5 defense is allowing 26.8 points per game, 349.2 yards total, 206 passing, and 143.2 rushing yards per game.
This number is a bit misleading as the Lobo offense has struggled to stay on the field and scoring points, so the defense is logging some heavy playing minutes and, like all defenses, eventually get worn out.
After four games, the SDSU offense averages 37.0 points per game and 372.8 yards per game, 118.0 through the air, and 254.8 on the ground. Defensively, the Aztecs are allowing 19.0 points and 289.8 yards, 243.8 passing, and 46.0 rushing yards per game.
The Aztecs, coming off their only bye week of the season, will attempt to reach 5-0 for just their second time in the last 46 seasons.
Head Aztec Grady Coach Hoke and coach Long were on each other’s coaching staffs said: “I don’t like playing against friends. I never have,” answered coach Hoke when asked his thoughts on facing New Mexico this week.” It’s not fun for wives, especially on how friendly you are with that person.”
Three Keys to a Lobo’s Victory
1. Protect Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson is a proven QB with lots of experience and has 927 passing yards for an average of 185.4 yards per game, leading the Lobos, completing 58.5% of his passes. Seven touchdown passes with just three interceptions this year. 41 rushing yards with 13.2 yards per game.
That being said, he has been pressured in many games, and this has not allowed him to get the ball to some very good receivers, so expect the Aztecs to bring the pressure, which in turn he needs to be a threat to run to pick up some chunk yards.
Lobos have most of theirs back as receivers Elijah Queen, Keyonta Lanier, and Zarak Scruggs, Jr. are all back after missing the last two weeks.
Jr QB Trae Hall, a quarterback on the Lobos roster, was used as a receiver last week and scored a touchdown on a 21-yard catch lining up as a slot receiver.
One huge playmaker for the Lobos is Mannie Logan Green, and this young man can flat out be a difference-maker for Offensive Coordinator Derek Warehime’s offense.
He was hurt at Air force and was questionable for this game, but man every time he has a kickoff return for the Lobos, he makes a big play and averages 33.2 yards per kickoff return.
The Lobo offense at some point needs to have big games as they have scored just 23 points in the last three weeks, and you get the feeling that they are so due for that game that they blow it up.
Bobby Cole has carried the ball 54 times for a team-high 211 yards (42.2 per game and Aaron Dumas has rushed for 207 yards (41.4 per game) on 46 carries.
Reciever Luke Wysong’s 173 receiving yards (34.6 yards per game) lead the team. He has 16 receptions.
Emmanuel Logan-Green has put up a 155-yard season (31 receiving yards per game) with one touchdown, reeling in 14 passes.
Andrew Erickson’s eight grabs have netted him 100 yards (20 ypg) and one touchdown as well.
2. Rocky Long 3-3-5 Defense must have a great game
The Aztecs rank 23rd in the country in scoring offense at 36 points per game and the 32nd in scoring defense, which screams how balanced they are.
So the Lobo defense must play solid to contain the big plays that the Aztec offense will throw at them.
Senior defensive end Joey Noble (#98). A team captain has collected nine and a half tackles for loss, four of which are quarterback sacks this season. He recorded a career-high 18 tackles against Air Force.
He has a knack for making plays at the perfect time for this Lobo Defense and has super quick feet, and often gets in the backfield when he pinches.
Wolf Safety Jerrick Reed II was named 2021 MWC All conference this year and leads the Lobos with 42 tackles through five games and has broken up four passes and has on interception, so he needs to lead the Lobos.
So both of these Senior must help lead the other Lobo defensive players to contain this high potent offense of the Aztecs that can flat out score points.
The Lobos will also be looking to get back to recording a takeaway, as the Lobos didn’t get one against Air Force, ending a streak of 10 straight games with a takeaway.
One interesting note is Aztecs put up 36.8 points per game, 10.0 more than the Lobos surrender per matchup (26.8)
The Lobos have put roughly the same amount of points on the board per game (16.8) as the Aztecs have allowed (19) so this will be something to watch.
3. Special teams play
The special team’s play must be solid with the Lobos for them to compete against this very good Aztec team.
It’s pretty wild how not many people pay much attention to kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts, and punt returns until the game is on the line.
The Lobos must play smart football and have solid play in the special team’s part of this game to flip the field and change the momentum of this game.
Kickers George Steinkamp, Andrew Shelley and punters Aaron Rodriguez must have solid games to help the Lobos from preventing the big returns from Jordyn Byrd for the Aztecs.
Special teams Coordinator Jamie Christian has to get his special teams to play smart football this Saturday for the Lobos.
College football is such a game of momentum, and when it’s on your side, it’s sweet as a team, not so much if it’s not when playing on the road.
If there was one game on the schedule that you would think a team would be very prepared for under the Danny Gonzales era and Rocky Long for apparent reasons, it’s this game.
Coaches get their players ready for big games, but ultimately the players have to step up and make plays on the field so that time will tell the story on this game, but it should be a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
I made the pick of Air Force getting beat by UNM, and we saw how that turned out and so I need to see the offensive line flat out dominate an opponent in or
I think this game can be close because of the emotional ties and both staff knowing each other tendencies as well.
Still, I believe this Aztec team will be too much in the second half for the Lobos, especially the return of running back Greg Bell and Quarterback Jordan Brookshire after a week off.
They are simply a much more balanced team than the Lobos, and balanced teams win games; this is why they are undefeated in ranked now.
Pull the upset and prove me wrong, Lobos, and what a turnaround your season could have, but it’s up to the Lobos to step up in this opportunity game for them.
Should the Lobos come away with a victory, I will be the first to congratulate you on a job well done
San Diego State 35 UNM 21