Week 3 has come and gone and in case you missed the mob rushing the field, things went well for the Aztecs. Here are the position grades for the 20 - 17 win over 19th ranked Sanford.
Final line on Christian Chapman reads 21 of 29 completions for 187 yards and one touchdown. Throwing an 8 yard TD to David Wells with 54 seconds left on the clock will be a highlight clip played for quite some time and start to give a little more credibility to the argument that Chapman is not just a game manager. SDSU had more 3rd down conversions throwing than running, the importance of this stat cannot be understated, having a QB who can keep drives going and hold on to the ball is a lethal weapon.
The play action pass was extremely effective on the night and looks like it may become the catalyst in him growing into a dominant passer. This looks like it could become
The negative on the night was his decision making on a pair of sacks in the second half, Chapman was able to elude the initial pressure but tried too hard to make something happen instead of just getting rid of the ball. So there is still room to grow. But all told an awesome night for young man.
RUNNING BACKS: (A)
Rashaad Penny spent his night chopping down some big trees. His final line on the night 32 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown. He also played a huge part in SDSU dominating the time of possession battle and holding on the ball for 41:14 on the night. He ran effectively between the tackles and on the sweeps to the outside, proving his versatility as an all downs back. Penny even motioned out of the backfield and lined up as a receiver on several 3rd downs, it was a busy night for the Aztec star.
Also it can’t be overlooked that for the second week in a row Nick Bawden made a major impact with his blocking, the converted QB looks like an all pro making room for Penny to run through.
WIDE RECEIVERS: (B+)
Mikah Holder had his first major night of the season with 7 catches for 85 yards in the Holder brothers bowl. Really the only catch that needs to be talked about was a 3rd down conversion on the game winning drive where Holder went over the middle without flinching then turned up the field toward contact to get 2 more yards. For the Aztecs to be successful it doesn't need to be a season of huge yardage just big catches like that one.
TIGHT ENDS: (A-)
With 54 seconds left David Wells caught the game winning touchdown, so a pretty solid night. Kahale Warring also came down with a pair of big catches to convert on third downs. Harder to appreciate is how well these two blocked for Rashaad Penny, making it seem like we had extra lineman on most plays. Stanford was as physically large of a defense as the Aztecs will play all season long and the success and the big night these two had should bode well for future production.
OFFENSIVE LINE: (B+)
Remember when we listed this as the biggest question mark for the Aztecs coming in to the season? I think we can put those questions to rest and start nitpicking at smaller details. There were four sacks, a couple of false starts and 12 rushes for loss so its not all sunshine and perfection but Aztec fans need to embrace this new line.
DEFENSIVE LINE: (A-)
Everyone on the defensive side had at least a good night for the Aztecs and that started with Noble Hall and company up front. Stanford ended the night with a sparse 238 yards and only 9 first downs and Keller Chryst was sacked four times. There were two plays late in the game where the line got entirely blocked and Stanford broke off huge plays, so not a perfect night, but still an all around impressive performance.
The pressure on the quarterback was present all night long and the blitzes were effective at stopping Stanford on 3rd down. Giving up 200 total rushing yards is not a great night at work but not unforgivable when it is against he strongest opponent on your schedule all season. They showed a physicality that should go a long way to helping the argument for SDSU being the top Group of Five school in the nation.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: (A)
Trey Lomax and Kameron Kelly had headline nights, including a pair of INT’s for Kelly. This group held a PAC-12 offense to only 64 passing yards on the night and broke up several key passes on 3rd down to force punts. The coverage was tight and didn't allow for any deep balls like we saw late in the game at Arizona State, so already we can see improvement early in the season. The secondary deserves a great deal of credit for its tackling and limiting yards after catch.
SPECIAL TEAMS: (PASS)
John Barron made a big pair of field goals on a night where points came at premium. He did miss a 50 yard attempt, but was put out at that distance due to penalties and sacks on the drive.
Brandon Heicklen had five punts on the night and did exactly what he needed to, give the defense some breathing room.
Coaching Staff: (A)
The decision to go for it on 4th down twice and choosing to motion Penny out of the backfield and rely on Chapman throwing multiple times shows a ton of confidence and guts. From the start of the game the Aztecs seemed dialed in and well prepared for what Coach Long had described earlier in the week as “the biggest game in school history”.
This win should put SDSU in the top 25 national rankings and put them in the drivers seat to be playing in a New Year’s 6 bowl game.