Big letdown at ‘The Big House’
September 24, 2011
The Wolverines pounced on SDSU right from the start and cruised to a 28-7 victory. Denard Robinson was clearly the best player on the field as he dominated the game with 200 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns to go with his 93 yards through the air.
The Aztecs shot themselves in the foot time after time and those mistakes proved costly as they fell behind by 21 points in the first half and ended up suffering their first loss of the season.
No quarterback is ever comfortable in the face of a pass rush and it was never more clear for SDSU than against Michigan.
The Wolverine defensive front four dominated the line of scrimmage and caused havoc to the Aztec offense.
SDSU senior quarterback Ryan Lindley struggled against the constant pressure. Lindley, who wasn’t in sync with his receivers most of the game, was 23 of 48 passing for 253 yards.
Lower than 50 percent completion percentage is not ideal for any quarterback. He can thank the Michigan defensive line for some of that.
“Whenever a quarterback doesn’t throw it very well a lot of it has to do with pressure,” Aztec head coach Rocky Long said after the game. “It seemed like he was under pressure quite a bit from the sidelines today.”
The offensive line struggled in general, as they were called for one false start and two holding penalties. The running game also wasn’t the same as it had been during the first three games.
Robinson was 8 of 17 passing for 93 yards and two interceptions. The problem is he was still the most dominating player on either team.
It was apparent early on SDSU was going to have its hands full with the dual-threat quarterback from Deerfield, Fla. He ran for 80 yards on the first two Michigan drives of the game.
Robinson finished the first half with 139 yards rushing and three touchdowns and ended the game with 200 yards rushing. Long blamed himself for the fast start Robinson got off to.
“That’s my fault,” Long said. “We are a very aggressive defense and we were too aggressive in the first half.”
Long said the defense backed off some in the second half, when Robinson didn’t enjoy the same amount of success as he did in the opening half.
No matter what his second half numbers were, Robinson seemed to come out on top of what was billed as “a showcase of athletes” by Aztecs’ sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman.
Hillman pumped out another 100-yard game but his two fumbles will probably be what fans remember most of Hillman when they think back to this game.
The sophomore is still a great player and one of the best running backs in the country but was just outperformed by a special player on Saturday.
At the weekly press conference on Tuesday, Rocky Long said he was going to change his signals for the Michigan game because coach Hoke knew what they were.
In the first half, the Aztecs came out with pictures of Hoke and other former SDSU assistant coaches, placed them on boards and used them to give defensive signals.
The defense was “embarrassing” in the first, according to Rocky Long, and then switched back to the regular signals in the second half.
“That might have been part of the problem in the first half,” Long said. “We tried to use pictures instead of signals and obviously we played much better on defense in the second half, so maybe that was part of the problem.”
Long said the coaching staff chose what pictures were attributed to the signals based off the personality of the former coaches.
Larry Parker came up with another solid game last week. Parker, who was named Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week last week, had four tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. This is coming off a week where he had two interceptions.
Parker and the defense in general have a nose for the ball, as they forced four turnovers against Michigan.
The loss snaps a five-game winning streak for the Aztecs and is the first loss since last November against Utah.
Things will slow down for the Aztecs next week but the games won’t be easier once they return back to action. SDSU will take on TCU on Oct. 8, then head to Air Force five days later to take on the Falcons.