San Diego State gets to face for the first time this year a team that does not run the triple-option offense, so expect the Aztecs to perform somewhat better against the spread passing attack of Washington State. For those unaware, Washington State is without all-league quarterback Jeff Tuell who broke his clavicle in their season opener. However, their backup up Marshall Lobbestael has filled in admirably and light up the UNLV defense last week with 361 yards and five touchdowns while not even playing the full game.
The Aztec secondary is better than UNLV's, but while saying that the Aztec secondary is not elite or even great. This year it is hard to tell how good they are since the first two games came against run first times, but digging deeper the Aztecs were right in the middle of the 2010 in pass defense by allowing 205 yards per game. The way to describe the Aztec defense is that they give up big plays but do not give up points or yards when teams are approaching the red zone.
Washington State is putting up huge numbers but so far they have played two bad teams in UNLV and Idaho State so it is hard to tell if their offense is great or just taking advantage of their opponents. Marquess Wilson is the number one wide receiver for Washington State and one of the best in the Pac-12 and so far on the season has 193 yards and two scores, and will be a priority for San Diego Stat to slow down.
The overwhelming opinion that Washington State will go as far as Lobbestael will take them. He is a fifth-year senior so he knows the system well, and has played off-and-on in his tenure at Wazzu. If Lobbestael has an early pick or can not get their offense going then they will be in trouble.
The Washington State line has also played a key roll in Lobbestael's early season success. He has only been sacked once in two games, but he has also rarely been pressured at all. If San Diego State can get some pressure on Lobbestael we will see what type of player he is. Getting pressure on the quarterback will be a key for the Aztecs to get the victory on Saturday.
As for San Diego State they have the quarterback in Ryan Lindley and the running back in Ronnie Hillman, but the receivers are the big question mark. Last week there were three passes that were just flat out dropped that would have been touchdowns for San Diego State. They need to make those catches, but also look for their tight ends to step up and have a big game. Well, because they need someone to be able to.
The good news is that Hillman legitimately has not faced a defense with our speed this year
Damn, it feels good to type that.
While that statement is true it does not mean that Ronnie Hillman will be shutdown in the running game. Hillman is one of the best running backs in the country, and does not quite get the recognition he deserves for the numbers he put up. Coug Center is aware that Hillman is one of the best backs they see all year and only Oregon's LaMichael James would be hands down better than Hillman and is a back that Washington State will see. One of the keys to Washington State winning is to have their linebackers wrap up and make sure to tackle Hillman.
My prediction is that San Diego State will win by more than the seven point spread that the Aztecs are favored at the moment, and upwards of a 14 point win. Also, Saturday night the Aztecs are having SkyShow which is a firework show which will ensure that Qualcomm will have a crowd of somewhere just above 50,000 or more and that will actually give the Aztecs a rare home field advantage for once.