Publish date:

24 SAN DIEGO STATE

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

"Think Stanford on offense. What they want to do is bludgeon people; you are going to see a lot of two-tight-end, two-back sets. It's unusual, and teams have a hard time defending it. The passing game [led by sophomore quarterback Christian Chapman] is average at best, but it doesn't need to be great, because the offense is in a lot of third-and-twos. They'll try to control the clock and wear you down, so you have to be ready for a bar fight. The problem is running backs Donnel Pumphrey [a senior] and Rashaad Penny [a junior] are so good that they can take it to the house at any time.

Schematically, they are a little bit unusual on defense too with that 3-3-5. [Coach] Rocky Long has been running a version of it forever. The difference is, they are so physical and they play so fast, I don't know if there is a team in America that pursues the ball better. Scheme counts for something, but what makes them great is the effort, the heart and the passion that they play with. There isn't anyone on their defense that's intimidating, but when the ball's snapped, they fly around like you wouldn't believe. I think San Diego State could be the Houston of this year."

X-FACTOR

For the Aztecs to grow, at least one go-to receiver must emerge. While 6'3", 205-pound junior CHRISTIAN CUMBERLANDER has the size and tools, the likelier candidate is 6-foot, 180-pound junior MIKAH HOLDER, who pulled down 24 passes for 439 yards last year. He's the team's top returning receiver, but he needs to become more reliable.