You can all exhale now, the Aztecs survived and are now 5-0 after beating North Illinois 34 - 28 at The Union. Here are the grades from the night.
The final line on the night for Chapman was 10-19 for 136 yards, a pair of TD’s and most importantly no interceptions. It cannot be under stated how important no interceptions is to the success of SDSU’s offense, not turning the ball over at all is a sign that Chapman is evolving past being just a game manager.
Running Backs (A)
Rashaad Penny suffered one of the worst cheap shots caught on camera when a NIU player gouged his eyes early in the game, so he would be given a pass if he had an off night, but he still ran for 115 yards and caught a touchdown pass. The numbers may not be flashy ‘Heisman hype esque' but he picked up every last yard that the Aztecs needed for a win. Nick Bawden deserves a lot of credit at the Fullback spot for being physically punishing all night long and helping open up lanes for the backs.
Wide Receivers (A-)
Quest Truxton, Chaz Collins and Collin Andrews all caught balls from Chapman. It’s looking like this receiver group just will never get a massive 40 pass night to really put their talents on display but they continue to make the most of what they are given and help give the running game some breathing room. Plus it needs to be acknowledged that they are doing a quality job of blocking for the running backs.
Tight Ends (B)
This time it was Kahale Warring with the clutch touchdown catch. David Wells only caught one ball for 23 yards. They didn't light up the scoreboard like they have in previous weeks but these two continue to be a great safety net for Chapman.
Offensive Line (B+)
The offense struggled to get in a rhythm early in the game but adjustments were made and things started to move efficiently as the game went on. Chapman only got sacked once which is a huge sign of success for a young line. True Freshman Dominic Gudino got his first significant playing time of the year and lived up to the hype. All in all this young group continues to grow into a high caliber line.
Defensive Line (C+)
There was a moment where they were going to score an A but Noble Hall got an unnecessary roughness penalty after the play to give NIU a fresh set of down and give them momentum late in the game. The Pressure was lacking all night long, overall a very average night.
Ronley Lakalaka and company are a group of mean dudes. They were in the mix all night making pressure happen and setting up the secondary for some interceptions. There were some moments of feast or famine where NIU was able to break out some big plays but on the big plays were there when the Aztec’s needed them.
Defensive Backs (A-)
Kameron Kelly and Tariq Thompson continue to absolute ball hawks. Thompson returned one 86 yards for a score and Kelly helped but the game on ice when he picked off NIU late in the 4th quarter. The turnovers continue outweigh any blown coverage or missed assignments.
Special Teams (Pass ++)
This was huge night from wire to wire for the special teams. Juwan Washington started the game off with a 96 yard kickoff return for a score. John Baron was a perfect 2 for 2 infield goals on the night. Brandon Heicklen was busy punting all night and played a huge role in the field position game. A stellar performance across the board by all of the special teams groups.