Who has the edge? SDSU Edition
LARAMIE -- People like to say that the game of football is
not played on paper.
They are right — but it’s still fun to look.
Today, we will breakdown the offenses of the San Diego State
Aztecs (4-1, 1-1) and Wyoming Cowboys (4-1, 1-0). The two squads will meet
Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at SDCCU Stadium in sunny San Diego.
So, who has the edge on offense?
Let’s break it down real quick.
Coming off easily his most efficient passing performance of the season, Sean Chambers will look to carry that momentum into the Cowboys’ first conference road game Saturday night. The redshirt freshman did complete just 5-of-12 passes, but two of those went for touchdowns to tight ends, Josh Harshman and Jackson Marcotte. Chambers finished the night with 124 yards passing. Where Chambers really hurt UNLV was with his legs, carrying the ball 12 times for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Chambers has accounted for nine total touchdowns through five games and has eclipsed 380 rushing yards to lead the Pokes in that category. Run lanes might not be as wide against the Aztecs, and UW head coach Craig Bohl said the team needs to be more balanced this week. We will all have to wait and see if that actually plays out.
Ryan Agnew completed 16-of-20 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns last Saturday night in Ft. Collins, helping to wreck the Rams homecoming with a decisive 24-10 win. That is an 80 percent completion rate and Agnew’s second three-touchdown game of his career. The senior from Texas has not been the most consistent passer in the world, but he doesn’t turn the ball over. He has just two interceptions this season to go along with seven touchdown passes. Rushing the ball is not Agnew’s strength. That is an understatement. In five games this season, he has carried the ball 34 times for minus-2 yards. Tally in the sacks – 11 of them – and you have a pure pocket passer, a lot like the Cowboys faced in Tulsa. If Agnew has time, he can pick a defense apart. He shouldn’t have much time Saturday night.
Titus Swen earned his first career start against the Rebels. The true freshman didn’t disappoint. For the first time in his young tenure in Laramie, Swen eclipsed the century mark, gashing UNLV to the tune of 136 yards on just 14 carries. Swen busted a game-high run of 59 yards and found the end zone from 44 yards out. For those of you keeping tally at home, that’s a robust 9.7 yards per carry. In a limited role, Xazavian Valladay carried the ball 13 times for 58 yards. He also scored a pair of touchdowns in the 53-17 rout. And it didn’t stop there for Cowboy rushers. Brett Brenton, a walk-on from Casper, even got in the mix, securing a career-high 82 yards on seven rushes. It’s no secret by now – Wyoming is a running team. Heck, the first 17 plays of the UNLV game were on the ground. It might not be that easy when the Cowboys line up across from the No. 2 rush defense in the nation Saturday night.
San Diego State is known for its legendary running backs – Marshall Faulk, Donnel Pumphrey, Larry Ned, Rashaad Penny, Ronnie Hillman and plenty more. This season, Chance Bell, Jordan Byrd and Juwan Washington have shared the load. Those three have combined for 599 yards on 164 carries. That’s less than four yards per tote. This trio isn’t exactly breaking big runs either. The longest this season is 23 yards from Byrd. They have scored just three total touchdowns, too. Not very Aztec-like start to the season on the ground.
WIDE RECEIVERS/ TIGHT ENDS:
Let’s start with the good news. As you read above, Harshman and Marcotte both caught touchdowns for the Cowboys in the win over the visiting Rebels. The bad news, Austin Conway caught the three other passes thrown by Chambers. Once again, Wyoming’s receivers were non-existent in the passing game. Is that all their fault? Of course not. Chambers missed on seven throws. But one would think that this group – Ayden Eberhardt, Gunner Gentry, Dontae Crow, Raghib Ismail, Wyatt Wieland and John Okwoli – will have to find a way to make plays if the Pokes hope to escape San Diego with a victory. Solid tight-end play will help, too. Hell, they are all due.
Kobe Smith is really good. How good? He has snagged 25 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore (yes, he really wears No. 92) has been the Aztecs’ biggest deep threat this season, but he’s not their only outside threat. Jesse Matthews is also having a nice season, hauling in 15 passes for 151 yards. Twelve Aztecs have caught passes from Agnew through five games. Tight ends have accounted for eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Bohl is fully aware of what they are capable of in a Rocky Long offense. If Tyler Hall can shut down, or at least keep Smith contained, the Cowboys will eliminate a major part of SDSU’s offense. Saying it and doing it are two very different things.
ADVANTAGE: San Diego State
How about some good news across the board? If you are looking for that, you are in the right place. Wyoming’s offensive line, which has been dominant at times this season, is fully healthy for the first time in three weeks. That bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for this group. Logan Harris and Alonzo Velazquez both exited the game in Tulsa with injuries. Injuries UW thought could have possibly been the season-ending type. Nope. They are all back. The depth chart goes like this from left to right: Rudy Stofer, Eric Abojei, Keegan Cryder, Harris and Velazquez. Frank Crum and Patrick Arnold, who filled in against UNLV, could both see time Saturday night, too. Offensive line coach Bart Miller calls that a “good problem to have.”
This hasn’t exactly been a bright spot for the Aztecs so far this season. The front five has allowed 11 sacks and running backs aren’t ripping off big runs like we have become accustomed to when watching San Diego State, especially a Long-coached team. With an average of 3.0 yards per carry as a team, SDSU is missing a major element in their offense. Left guard Daishawn Dixon is the anchor of this unit, while the Aztecs also return center Keith Ismael and utility man, Dominic Gudino. The Cowboys feature an aggressive front four that loves getting to the quarterback. This will be a big task for the Aztecs offensive line Saturday night.