The San Diego State Aztecs (6-5, 4-3 Mountain West) played their most complete game of the season in their 30-14 manhandling of a very good Air Force team. The win keeps the Aztecs' hopes alive to win the MW West division. In order to do so, they need to defeat San Jose State at home and have Fresno State lose to Hawaii this week. The win did secure bowl eligibility for the Aztecs. It is the fifth consecutive season that San Diego State is bowl eligible. Their chances of being selected for a bowl game are very good, however, they improve greatly if they defeat San Jose State on Saturday afternoon.
Senior quarterback Quinn Kaehler had another solid outing, completing 17 of 30 pass attempts for 326 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Kaehler found sophomore fullback (and sometimes tight end) Adam Roberts on a 14-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring on the opening drive. The very next drive, he threw an interception in the end zone. He recovered and finished with a strong game overall making no more mistakes. He had good defensive reads and showed decent velocity on his often criticized arm speed. His accuracy was fair as he found the right targets that made nice plays on occasionally imperfect throws. Kaehler has shown that he is a smart quarterback with better than average skills.
Running Backs: A-
Sophomore Donnel Pumphrey, one of the nation's leading rushers, had yet another strong game for the Aztecs, carrying the ball a career-high 27 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. He seemed to gain momentum as the game progressed, ultimately taking advantage of a tiring Air Force defensive line. Junior Chase Price, one of the toughest running backs in the league, had 11 touches for 47 yards and continues to be a great compliment to Pumphrey.
Wide Receivers: A
Eight different receivers caught balls in the game with senior receiver Ezell Ruffin leading the way with seven catches for 127 yards. Ruffin bailed out Kaehler several times in this game with unbelievable highlight reel catches. He has consistently shown he is an excellent route runner with great hands and the ability to make acrobatic catches.
Offensive Line: A
The offensive line played a very strong game from beginning to end. Senior Terry Poole led the way with aggressive blocking and solid pass protection. Poole continues to show that he has the ability to play at the next level. The offensive line as a unit only allowed one sack on the day.
Defensive Line: A-
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound junior transfer from USC Christian Heyward played another solid game along with senior Sam Meredith and junior Jon Sanchez. The defensive line played well in stopping the highly touted Air Force running game. No sacks were recorded but there was consistent pressure on the Falcon's quarterback Kale Pearson all day, limiting his ability to run an effective triple option or get into a good passing rhythm.
The linebackers had a great day overall. Sophomore Calvin Munson continues to be the headline story this season. Against the Falcons he had 10 tackles, one forced fumble and an interceotion that he ran back 56 yards for a touchdown. Seniors Josh Gavert, Cody Galea and Derek Largent also had big days for the Aztecs defensively.
Aside from one long touchdown pass play that was nearly intercepted by sophomore Damontae Kazee, the secondary played a great shutdown game. Kazee and senior J.J. Whittaker led the way with their aggressive play.
Special Teams: B+
Junior Donny Hageman had connected on field goals of 20, 36, and 21 yards and just missed on his fourth attempt from 26 yards out. He has made 80 percent of his field goal tries this season.
Stars of the game:
Wide receiver Ezell Ruffin, linebacker Calvin Munson and kicker Donny Hageman earn my offensive, defensive and special teams stars of the game, respectively.