By John Philip Wyllie
San Diego State has always struggled on the gridiron against Pac-10 teams and their 45-17 season opening loss to Washington State was no exception. With the Aztec defense clearly overmatched from the outset it was up to the offense to provide their long suffering fans with some hope. With a trip to powerful Arizona State (2-0) next on the schedule (Saturday 7:00 p.m. radio only AM-600) things could get worse for the red and black before they get any better.
The Aztec highlight reel from Saturday’s debacle was a short one. The play of the game (at least from the Aztec standpoint) was without a doubt the first quarter 59-yard touchdown rumble of former Rancho Buena Vista Longhorn, Brandon Bornes.
Under utilized in his first three seasons as an Aztec ball carrier, the powerful 6’1 225 lb. running back may finally get a prolonged opportunity to demonstrate what he can do this season.
Bornes is the ultimate team player. While other ball carriers might have pouted over their lack of touches, Bornes has always found other ways to contribute. Throughout his first three seasons he has been a devastating blocker and a major contributor on special teams. This year, the former high school 300-hurdles state champion should get more of an opportunity to carry the pigskin and use his hurdling ability to leap over would-be tacklers.
“I don’t think I was under utilized in the past, I was just used in a different way,” Bornes said following Tues-day’s practice. “I played a lot of special teams and as a fullback I was blocking a lot more. This year I am just doing a different job. That is how I look at it. Carrying the ball is great, but in the big picture we just want to win games, so if I have to block, I will block.”
Despite the disappointing opener, Bornes is convinced that this team will fare better than its recent Aztec predecessors.
“We have put a lot of work in to prepare during the off-season. We have a good foundation, now we have to build upon that foundation. I know we have more confidence now, you can just see it on the field.”
Bornes received an added to boost to his confidence when he torched the Cougar defense on his previously mentioned 59-yard touchdown run. Humble and unassuming, he was quick to credit the people around him for his success.
“A lot of the credit has to go to our line and to the offensive play calling. I think we caught them off guard with that run on first down because we were passing a lot before that. The line blocked well and hole opened up and I just capitalized on it.”
Like many of his teammates, Bornes is frustrated by the team’s lack of success, but he enjoys playing for second year head coach Chuck Long.
“Coach Long has a positive attitude every day. He is always encouraging people. I just do my part as always. I try to be an example. If the coaches tell me to do something, I just try to do it. I don’t complain. I just step up and try to do what the coaches tell me to do. Everybody has their part and that part may change over the years, but you have to remember, whatever they ask you to do it is for the team and not for yourself.”
The Aztecs make their Qualcomm Stadium debut on Saturday, September 22 at 3:30 p.m. against Portland State. Following the game, fans will enjoy the annual KGB Sky Show.