The next two weeks, Ohio State football will play two teams that can turn up the tempo. Through the sport’s opening weekend, San Diego State and Cal lead the nation in the number of offensive plays run with 99.
That didn’t help either team score a “W.” In fact, the Aztecs lost at home to an FCS school in Eastern Illinois by a final score of 40-19.
It was so rough, Coach Rocky Long made players unavailable for interviews, saying he should be the one to answer for the team giving up the game’s final 21 points.
The biggest question for the Aztecs is the play at corner. Eastern Illinois took advantage of San Diego State’s inexperience at the position, and scored on touchdown passes of 37 and 62 yards, Another potential long gain was only negated by a turnover. All told EIU had 361 yards through the air.
SDSU also utilizes hybrid safeties, and their middle safety is 5’10” senior Nat Berhe. You’ll see him line up anywhere from the line of scrimmage to linebacker to safety. The team calls it their “Aztec” position.
Linebacker Jake Fely won San Diego State’s Defensive Player of the Year award for last season, and the Ohio State game will mark his 28th straight start.
On offense, SDSU was one of the top 25 teams in the nation a year ago in rushing, and new offensive coordinator Bob Toledo said he would continue to make the run a big part of his pro-style plan. However, they had to replace the entire right side of their line, and starting guard Nico Siragusa was pulled during their loss Saturday. Plus, tailback Adam Muema hurt his ankle in the contest and couldn’t return.
As a result of all that, and the fact that they were attempting to rally in the fourth quarter, they took to the air and set a school record with 64 pass attempts. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, quarterback Adam Dingwell only completed 27 of those passes, was picked four times and sacked four times.
Now there is reason to believe Dingwell can play better than that. After all, Brady Hoke recruited the 6’4″ signal caller out of Texas. Dingwell took over the team under difficult circumstances last year, stepping in for injured Ryan Katz October 20th and leading a comeback against Nevada. He then finished the season out going 5-1. His position coach is former Cleveland Brown Brian Sipe, for what that’s worth.
Dingwell’s top target is Colin Lockett, who has already played in ten games where he’s led the Aztecs in catches.
San Diego State gave up a punt return for a score against Eastern Illinois and had another punt blocked, but have shown they can be effective on special teams. Punter Joel Alesi especially proved that he can be a weapon. He averaged nearly 50 yards on his 5 punts, had 3 of those punts downed within the 20-yard line and 2 downed within the 10.