Jeremy from MWC Connection and I exchanged a few e-mails this week -- here are his questions and my answers, and below are my questions and his answers. Go Tigers!
1. With a manageable schedule (home games against Utah State, Colorado State and UNLV, and a road trip to New Mexico), six wins seems like a distinct possibility for this team. How much would a bid in something like the New Mexico Bowl energize a fanbase that hasn't had much to cheer about recently?
A bowl game would be more then a big deal, because San Diego State has not been to a bowl game since the inception of the Mountain West conference. All of those games you mentioned are all winnable with Utah State being the toughest of the group, but a thing to know about the Aztecs they always seem to lose to a much inferior team each year. Last year they were looking to make a bowl game but gave up I think a 17 point fourth quarter lead to Wyoming and that loss squashed their bowl chances.
2. How close are Brady Hoke and Rocky Long to being able to fully execute Long's 3-3-5 defense? It sometimes takes a while to make that shift in personnel, and SDSU still appears maybe a bit light up front.
It is hard to tell how close they are because their first two opponents this year were some bad teams in Nicholls State and New Mexico State. This game will be a measuring stick for how good the defense will be. Rocky Long is a great defensive coach; just look at the mess New Mexico is in now without him, when Long was in New Mexico the team was always competitive and never was blown out. In the New Mexico State game they did give up 21 points to a bad team, and Saturday the team will be really tested. I don't think they are there because last year they gave up a lot of points, but there should be some improvement in year two.
3. What is the main source for Ryan Lindley's low completion rate? Is it that SDSU runs a lot of deeper, lower-percentage routes? Does he just throw the ball away at the first sign of trouble? They have been pretty bad in the redzone this year, especially with the pass, which tells me they might not have much of a short passing game at all. Is this the case?
The low percentage rate has been due to that they like to throw a lot due to trailing to a lot games, plus Lindley likes to force balls at times. I think the offensive line is part of the reason for LIndleys low completion rate, because under former coach Chuck Long the offense was a spread offense with a leaner offensive line. A lot of those same players are starting now and last year they had trouble holding off defenders for too long, and they had to learn to pass block with Brady Hoke's offense. The lack of being efficient in the redzone is due to the lack of running game, and that there is less space for Vincent Brown to get open, because he is more of a deep threat. Expect this year for them to be much better with WR DeMarco Sampson who has stepped up his game and is capable of getting open without using a deep route, plus they may have one of the best true freshman running backs in the nation in Ronnie Hillman who had 150 yards and four scores, yes it was against New Mexico State but the lack of running game has been the anchor that has kept the Aztec offense from doing anything in the redzone.
4. What has held SDSU back as a program? They are in a fertile recruiting area, they have big names in their history (Don Coryell, Marshall Faulk, etc.), and they are in a strong enough conference to at least make some occasional big noise. Why hasn't this happened, especially recently? Are the facilities that far below par? Does San Diego weather just mellow you out too much to be good at football (kidding)?
Really? Who knows, because there are a ton of talented players with Reggie Bush and Alex Smith most recently coming in their backyard with both going elsewhere, and especially with Smith going to Utah. I think it has to be lazy recruiting, because even with UCLA and USC dominating the area in recruiting there are enough athletes to go around. Just look at TCU and Houston they get the left overs from Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M; those schools have fielded good programs in the past. Not having an on campus stadium is a real killer, because Qualcomm is usually half empty due to other things to do, it is not close to campus, and there has been no reason to go to the games since the team has been so bad.
On campus facilities are nothing great from what I have heard, and the players are just lazy. There is a guy I know who played at Utah and his brother is currently at San Diego State, and during his freshman year which was with Chuck Long there was no discipline and the players laughed off getting smoked by good teams. Plus, the weight room was barely an upgrade over his high schools. Attitude has a lot to do with their down fall, but I might be foolish to think this, but I feel San Diego State is on the right track and will be able to make some noise in the next few years.