The San Diego State football team started off the season 0-1 after a controversial loss to the University of Washington in Seattle last Saturday night. The Aztecs will look to rebound as they start a three-game homestand against Army, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium. Here are five storylines for Aztec fans to watch for against Army.
Can the Aztecs stop senior quarterback Trent Steelman and Army’s rushing attack?
Steelman is back for his fourth season as Army’s starting quarterback. The Aztecs have experience against Steelman and the option offense, after defeating the Black Knights last season 23-20 on a late field goal.
Steelman, meanwhile, ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
SDSU’s defense only allowed 106 yards rushing against the Huskies last week, which is good news. The bad news is that Army led the nation in rushing in 2011, averaging 346.5 yards per game.
Because Army’s offense is run- heavy, if the Aztecs can stop the ground attack, SDSU should come out of Qualcomm Stadium with the win.
Can SDSU stop Army on fourth down?
SDSU football head coach Rocky Long knows the Black Knights like to go for it on fourth down.
“In their minds, they only have to average two and a half yards per play because they will go for it every single time it’s fourth-down-and- one,” Long said. “I shouldn’t say every single on; 90 percent of the time they are going for it on fourth-and-one, and fourth-and-two.”
The Black Knights converted 3-of-5 fourth-down possessions last season, which allowed Army to get 25 first downs in the game. Washington did not attempt a fourth down against the Aztecs last week, so we’ll have to wait and see how SDSU handles the pressure.
Will the Aztecs be able to control the ball?
Against the Huskies, the Aztecs narrowly lost the possession battle 31:03 to 28:57. Against the Black Knights last season, SDSU lost the possession battle 42:11 to 17:49. That is a big difference.
In order to give the offense a chance to score points, the SDSU defense will have to keep its penalty yardage down and win the turnover battle. The Aztecs forced three turnovers against Army last season, the main reason SDSU was victorious.
Look for the Aztecs to make the most of their opportunities on offense.
Will SDSU finally use its field goal kickers?
Long has a plan. Actually, to be more specific, he has a chart.
Against the Huskies, Long chose not to kick extra points after touchdowns or go for a short field goal in the fourth quarter, which would have made it a six-point game.
Why? Because it was not part of the game plan.
“That’s the plan we had going into the game,” Long said. “That’s the way we thought we had the best chance to win the game, and you never apologize for trying to win. We didn’t win, not because of those decisions; we lost the game because Washington played better than we did.”
Junior Wes Feer and freshman Seamus McMorrow continue to battle for the starting placekicker job.
Can SDSU get off to a fast start for once?
It’s been a problem for the Aztecs dating back to last season. SDSU has been notorious for getting off to slow starts and that didn’t change against the Huskies. After one quarter, SDSU trailed 14-0 against Washington.
“You know, that trend started last year and we are definitely trying to stop that trend so we don’t start off slow this year,” sophomore linebacker Jake Fely said. “We definitely need to work on that. Even though we started this game like that, we are going to try to work on it this year so we eliminate that.” Look for the Aztecs to get an early lead in this game.