2015 In Sports
2015 In Sports

Preview of the San Diego State Game
Gordy Larson
3 Sep 2012
    Last year, I sat in Michie Stadium and watched Army snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against SDSU, when, late in the 4th quarter, with SDSU leading 23-20, Trent Steelman was injured on a drive deep into SDSU territory, and his replacement Max Jenkins came in to throw two incomplete passes and get sacked once to end what had potential to be the winning drive.  It was one of our woulda, coulda, shoulda losses of the 2011 season.  Statistically, we outperformed SDSU with 25 first downs to their 16, and 446 total yards to 292 for SDSU, but we fumbled the ball 8 times turning it over 3 of those times. We also had more penalties than SDSU 4 penalties for 40 yards compared to SDSU's 3 penalties for 10 yards.  Steelman was 2 for 4 passing, and Jenkins went 0-3.  Army had home advantage, but our lack of experience showed up in the disparity in penalties and turnovers.
    Fast forward to 2012, and the situation appears reversed.  We are playing the game in their house, but we bring the experienced team to the fray, and SDSU is having problems with turnovers.  SDSU lost their star running back Hillman to the NFL and their good senior QB Lindley to graduation along with most of their offensive line.  They replaced their QB with an experienced transfer from Oregon State, Ryan Katz, who is playing his 4th year as a graduate student at SDSU this year.  They also have two very good returning receivers in Colin Lockett and TE Gavin Escobar, plus another WR transfer from USC, Brice Butler; so they have the skills players for a good passing attack.  They have a running back named Kazee who is decent, but it's tough to replace a guy as good as Hillman.
    In their opening 12-21 loss this weekend against Washington this weekend, Katz passed for 128 yards and SDSU had 199 yards rushing, neither stat being particularly impressive.  SDSU also had three turnovers, one of which was converted to an early TD by UW.
    On the defensive side of the ball, SDSU returned only 5 starters this season, mostly in the defensive backfield, leaving them with a relatively new defensive line and linebacker corps.  SDSU held UW to 328 yards total offense and 2 TDs, but UW is predominantly a passing team; so we can't infer a whole lot from that performance.      
    One of the advantages that Army, Navy, and AFA have is that most teams don't spend much time preparing for the triple option, and that could be the case with SDSU under the circumstances.  SDSU played us last year and they play AFA every year; so they have more experience defending against the TO than most teams we face.  
    Bottom line:  For whatever it's worth, we're ranked either even with or better than SDSU in all the polls.  Rankings are not particularly good indicators of head to head performance, but they do suggest that we will not be totally outgunned.  It's likely to boil down to which team meets expectations.  The game will test Army's pass defense and our ability to win on the road.  I fully expect that we will be able to move the ball on the ground against SDSU as we did last season; so if we can keep from fumbling and our improved defense can take advantage of their inconsistent offense, we should start the season with a W.  I don't pay much attention to betting lines, but I hear the current point spread is SDSU - 6 1/2.  Take the points and bet on Army.