2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The San Diego State Offense
The passing game has to at least be efficient and effective. The Aztecs – as always – will live on a strong running game and a fantastic defense, but for an attack that doesn’t put up big numbers, keeping the chains moving is a must.
That’s where the passing game comes in.
The receivers might not be there, but the quarterback is. Senior Ryan Agnew has been around long enough to know what he’s doing, and again, he doesn’t have to be amazing. All he has to do is hit 60% of his passes – he completed 51.6% last season – limit the picks, and hit the third down throws.
The Aztecs were ninth in the Mountain West converting on 35% of their third down tries after converting on 45% in 2017. Get back to above 40%, and they’re in the conference title chase.
Biggest Key To The San Diego State Defense
Force a whole lot more mistakes and turnovers. The Aztecs were amazing at taking the ball away for a long time, coming up with 26 turnovers in 2014, 34 in 2015, and 29 in 2016. Doing that allowed the machine to work.
The offense didn’t have to take many chances, and when it did, the defense would usually be there to clean up the mess. Even so, it was alarming when the D generated just 29 takeaways in 2017.
Last year? Just 15 with just one recovered fumble in the first nine games and with just one takeaway or none eight times.
There’s a bit of adjusting to do on the line, and some other parts have to be reworked, but this will be another very, very good group. There’s no reason not to push for well past the 20 takeaway mark.
Key Player To A Successful Season
PK Matt Araiza, RFr.
Coming up with a No. 1 wide receiver is a must – the pressure is on sophomore Ethan Dedeaux to be great – and a few new starting defensive linemen need to be fantastic. Those things should work themselves out without too much of an issue – they always do with this program.
But for a team that’s still not going to be an offensive juggernaut, and considering the problems coming up with touchdowns after getting into the red zone – scoring them just 50% of the time – the kicking game had better be a big bowl of terrific.
John Baron was an all-star who hit 17-of-22 field goals and all of his extra points. He had the leg to bang out five field goals from beyond 50 yards, and he turned out to be the difference in wins over Eastern Michigan, Boise State and San Jose State.
Ariaza can blast away and could end up making some noise at punter before his career is done. A good athlete, he’s not your typical kicker, but San Diego State needs him to be close to as good as the last guy.
Key Game To The San Diego State Season
Fresno State, Nov. 16
The schedule isn’t bad, but that didn’t seem to matter to last year’s team as it tripped over its own shoelaces down the stretch. Assuming the Aztecs are back to form, the season might just come down to the date with the Bulldogs.
The rest of the West division is fine, and there are plenty of dangerous games. However, after getting a week off, SDSU hosts Nevada and Fresno State in back-to-back weeks.
Fresno State won the last two meetings, and it went on to play in the last two Mountain West titles. As it turned out, the last six winners in this game have gone on to play for the conference championship.
– San Diego State Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 San Diego State Fun Stats
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 62 – San Diego State 29
– Penalties: San Diego State 92 for 803 yards – Opponents 58 for 543 yards
– Red Zone TDs: Opponents 25-of-38 (66%) – San Diego State 18-of-36 (50%)