September 22, 2006

Aztecs Face Utah at the “Q”

By John Philip Wyllie

Thus far in this young football season the San Diego State Aztecs have again been victims of their own misguided scheduling practices. And things don’t look to get a whole lot better any time soon. While the Chargers schedule features more cream puffs than a French bakery, the San Diego State Aztecs schedule (at least so far) appears as if it was designed by the Marquis de Sade. It’s an Aztec tradition. No wonder they haven’t won a bowl game since the early days of the Nixon administration.

The Aztec defense gang-tackling against UTEP. File Photo.

Recent seasons have annually cast them as Davids against Goliaths such as Ohio State, Michigan, USC and UCLA. As you might expect, the results have been painfully predictable. The convoluted thinking was that if the Aztecs could beat one of these powerhouses, they could gain some much needed respect. In reality, if the Aztecs could beat one of these teams it would be a miracle of monumental proportions. Upsets like that only happen in Disney movies. What’s wrong with opening with a couple of 98-pound weaklings to get the season off to a winning start? That is what many of the top-ranked teams do.

Each fall you can count on the leaves turning colors in New England and the Aztecs going 0- for whatever against their out-of-league early-season opponents. This year, the opponents were different, but the results were the same. They fell to UTEP, a bowl participant the last several years, in week one and then were shut out 14-0 by Wisconsin, a Big-10 powerhouse in week two. They nearly staged an incredible comeback against the Miners when Darren Mougey replaced the injured Kevin O’Connell at quarterback and led the Aztecs to 24 second-half points. But in the end the Miners prevailed.

Last week, the Aztec defense played heroically in holding the powerful Badgers off the scoreboard until midway through the third period. But you don’t win if you can’t score and the Aztecs never really came close to doing that against the stifling Badgers defense. The Aztec running game for the second week in a row was practically nonexistent and Mougey had a hard time locating his receivers under the relentless Badger pass rush and their smothering secondary.

Two tough out-of-league opponents, two loses, too bad, because the Aztecs do look significantly better under new head coach, Chuck Long even if their current 0-2 record doesn’t indicate it.

Next up is Utah, the Aztecs first Mountain West opponent. The Utes finished 8-4 a year ago and went on to hammer Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl. This season, they are predicted to finish behind only defending Mountain West champion TCU. The high-powered Ute offense has scored 45 and 48 points respectively in its last two outings. Holding an offense like that in check won’t be easy. There will at least be plenty of fireworks. The annual KGB Skyshow is slated to commence immediately following Saturday night’s game. And a family-friendly 5:00 p.m. kickoff should help fill the “Q”.

Their best hope of an early season victory will come in week four when they travel to San Jose State on September 30 for a 3:00p.m. kickoff. That game will be televised locally on Cable 4. For Tickets and information call (619) 983-SDSU

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