San Diego State Championship Week: Press Conference Recap
Recapping the Aztec press conference for the upcoming Championship game
The San Diego State Aztecs face the Utah State Aggies in the Mountain West Championship game this Saturday, December 4, 2021. Head Coach Brady Hoke, linebacker Caden McDonald, and running back Chance Bell talk about the challenge and exciting opportunity ahead in their upcoming contest.
Coach Brady Hoke
In his weekly press conference, Hoke was very proud of how his team overcame their first-half struggles against Boise State and turned it around to complete the game. When it comes to the halftime adjustments, Kurt Mattix and Jeff Hecklinski do a great job making the necessary moves to get the team on the right track. Over the season am always reminding the Aztecs who they are, and what they are playing for. He is singled out how Jordon Brookshire positively handled the quarterback switch and managed their offense to victory.
Coach Hoke knows that part of being a coach is to tell your players that if the opportunity comes, be ready. Jordon Brookshire was benched earlier this season in favor of Lucas Johnson, but bringing in the senior from Santa Rosa into the game against Boise State gave a spark to the offense. Brookshire hit wide receiver, Jesse Matthews, for a touchdown that brought the Aztecs back to life and got the defense fired up. The connection Matthews has with quarterbacks Brookshire and Lucas Johnson boils down to his attitude as a great teammate. Hoke noted that he is not the fastest or strongest, but he is a football player.
According to Hoke, Brookshire has maintained the same work ethic and decisiveness going into the game. No quarterback has been named the starter for the game, and Lucas Johnson did not practice Monday and will take it day by day until kickoff.
Defensively, he offered praise for his nose tackle Jonah Tavai who comes from a football family with a brother playing for Hawaii and another brother playing for the New England Patriots. Coach Hoke was able to meet his mother in Hawaii and give the acknowledgment in person a few weeks prior.
For another week in a row, Hoke reiterated that Matt Araiza is the MVP and he has never been a part of any team that had a punter as MVP. Araiza’s consistency has the coaching staff expecting perfection on kickoffs, punts, and field goals every time. Hoke admires Araiza’s mentality especially because the standout punter/placekicker Matt never complains, even when on missed opportunities.
Looking forward to the Championship game, the SDSU coach applauded how the team has stuck together after getting beat by Fresno State and according to him, this San Diego State squad is one of the better teams he’s been around that have rallied together after a loss.
On what lies ahead against the Utah State Aggies, Brady Hoke complimented Blake Anderson’s team as a whole, saying “he has a heck of a football team…They are athletic upfront and big on both sides of the ball.” As for the opposing QB, Logan Bonner has been accurate, great at extending plays, but is not worried take a hit. The San Diego State coach said that these are ingredients that make it hard for an opposing football team to succeed.
When it comes to scouting and getting reviewing the tape, Hoke called former coach Rocky Long to get a gauge of how to play their best football come Saturday.
For Saturday’s conference championship game, the Aztecs know if they win it would be their 22nd conference championship. They’ve been without a championship since the 2016 season and the current roster wants to leave a legacy. Only three players from that season are still here Trenton Thompson, Zach Thomas, and Taylor Hawkins. The Aztecs have been carrying the mantra of “Win 22” for the last five years and they have a good shot at it.
The Aztecs head coach remarked that the team has to get to the finish line and this is a special team because of how this team has reacted and gone through tough situations like How they’ve handled travel away from San Diego.
After seeing a stadium empty in 2020, seeing red jerseys in Carson this season and especially against Boise State has been more fun for the team, but his coaching staff has consistently prepared the team mentally to play in their temporary home with or without Aztecs fans.
However, for this final game at Carson Hoke offered a fiery pitch to Aztec fans, noting that he knows and sees how his players sacrifice and how important it is for them to win a championship game at home in front of their fans. They need the Aztec nation to make that trip to Carson for the players.
Since the basketball team is going to Michigan on Saturday, he was asked if he bonded with former basketball head coach Steve Fisher over the firings from Big Blue. Uncomfortable with the question, Hoke said they have not talked about it ever and they both are where they want to be.
Hoke offered his vocal support of the retired coach that there’s not a doubt in his mind that coach Steve Fisher got the short end of the stick in Michigan and that there is a lot of national love for Fisher.
Also asked If there’s any special interest with Brian Dutcher going home to face off against Juwan Howard’s Wolverines, “Let’s go Aztecs.”
Brady Hoke was asked about how his most important critic, mom evaluated his season. We found out that Hoke’s mother does not like the close games because it keeps her up and she was very happy with the east-coast friendly kickoff last week and looks forward to Saturday’s 3 pm ET kickoff.
Linebacker Caden McDonald is tired of saying “Win 22”. He believes that it is overdue that they win their 22nd championship and finally get it done.
For the Texas-born linebacker, he’s been cool and polite during his media time because he’s always has a switch to turn on when he’s between in the white lines. When it steps on the field he is locked in. One of the things that lighten his mood on gameday is when the offense is tearing up opponents and it makes his job on defense easier.
When he sees the front three get after the quarterback and make him feel uncomfortable, it helps the whole defense. At the front is Jonah Tavai, McDonald’s roommate, seeing him succeed gets him excited as he’s with him every hour of the day.
For Saturday’s game, despite seeing opponents throw over the top and watching his defensive backs give up big plays, he maintains his tremendous faith in the defensive coaching staff and the defensive backs. He actually loves playing high-powered offense and is excited to take on the challenge.
If things look bleak for the offense and they see Matt Araiza ready to punt, he looks forward to getting back on the field. McDonald claims Araiiza is a defensive player and does a phenomenal job flipping the field and having opponents start down inside the 20.
The senior running back credited his teammates, coaching staff, multiple assistants, advisors and it took the entirety of them to achieve in 2021 and that it’s been a great ride.
Bell noted that their resiliency through the season and especially against Boise State that they’ve embodied the program and they are warriors. They have rallied and continue to stay together and fight when it’s tough.
On what it means to win a championship on Saturday and that there was a word to describe his feeling to win. Noted that this is what they worked really hard for. They are blessed to be in this position and want to accomplish their win 22 the goal for the last 5 years.