Things somehow managed to go from bad to worse for the Aztecs on Saturday as they were handed their second straight loss of the season, 27 - 3 to the Fresno State Bulldogs to lose possession of the Old Oil Can. Please don't burn your jerseys, and don't give up on the team because there is still time down the stretch to fix the season. That being said we need to have a serious coming to terms conversation about how much easier that is said than done given the state of affairs atop the Mesa. Here are grades and opinions on each of the position groups for loss number two on the season for SDSU.
Under 100 passing yards is a bad outing and Chapman getting pulled late in the fourth quarter was the right move. The only thing they didn't was throw a score for Fresno, it was an all around and night. This is maybe the most concerning performance for the future outlook, if teams are able to game plan and shut down the run game then it will fall to the passing game keep the offense moving. The next few weeks should see a big increase in short passing.
Running Backs (F)
Fumbles in the red zone are a cardinal sin. No rushing touchdowns and 11 rushing attempts that end up as tackles for loss is also bad. Fresno came with a prefect game plan to disrupt the run and the Aztecs showed no ability to adapt. The running backs have been such the focus of the past few seasons that a game with no rushing touchdowns seems foreign in nature. This needs to be the rock bottom because more performances like this one will mean more losses.
Wide Receivers (C-)
Mikah Holder dropping what could have been a game changing touchdown is a great analogy for the current rut the Aztecs are in, that the Aztec’s simply don't have what it takes right now. In absence of a successful running game the receivers need to a better job of getting open on routes. The deep play action passes looked nice but will be much more successful when teams are not able to double cover Mikah Holder.
Tight Ends (C-)
They bear some of the blame on the collapse in blocking for the run game. They also struggle to get targets from Chapman when the run game isn't working. What looked in early in the season to be a safety net for Chapman to pass too now looks more like a couple of lucky passes.
Offensive Line (F)
Most of the problems on the offensive side of the game stem from a lack of blocking up front. It isn't the original lineup from day 1 of the season, but injuries can’t explain away everything. They failed in both run and pass blocking, there was a complete collapse execution of any sort. Four sacks and 11 tackles for loss is a night that you struggle to find any sort of silver lining. The hope has to be that they young kids like true freshman Dominic Gudino, who got his first start at Center, are fast learners and that there are severe growing pains of a soon to be great line.
Defensive Line (D)
There was never any confusing them with the steel curtain but Fresno made them look not even as tough as steel wool. The Bulldogs averaged over five yards per rush, so well past the defensive front and in to the backers and secondary. They also didn't register a sack for the second straight week. Noble hall just needs to provide a little room for the linebackers to blitz through in order to get a spark for the defense.
Where’s the speed? Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense thrives off of linebackers bring able to bring a variety of blitzes to force pressure and that just hasn’t happened the last two weeks. Both between the tackles and out in the flats the linebackers are simply sluggish. A heavier dosage of blitzing next week may be just what the doctor ordered for the Aztec defense.
Defensive Backs (D)
After leading college football in turnover margin for more than a season, the electric group of backs that provided countless highlight reel moments through the first five weeks has now been silent for two straight weeks. Fresno averaged a concerning 17 yards per completion, the constant threat of the deep ball is hovering over the Aztec’s defense. The lineup has not changed from injuries, so a combo of game planning and a larger sample size has exposed some shortcomings. The next few weeks offer some favorable matchups to get back to their ballhawk roots.
Special Teams (Pass)
John Baron kept it from being a shutout so I guess things could have been worse.