August 25, 2000


Offense Looks Strong in Final Scrimmage

The San Diego State football team officially broke camp Wednesday morning with its final fall scrimmage. The Aztecs, who open the season at home against Arizona State on Aug. 31st, begin game-week preparations for ASU on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 3 p.m.

The Aztec offense, which got off to a slow start during Saturday's the Family Day scrimmage in Tony Gwynn Stadium, appeared much more composed and confident in Wednesday's workout, completing the drills without a turnover and allowing only one quarterback sack.



Tight end Gary McNeil celebrating a touchdown last season.

Senior quarterback Jack Hawley finished the scrimmage 6-for-11 passing for 71 yards and led the offense on a 10-play, 60-yard touchdown drive on its opening possession. Hawley capped the drive by connecting on an 11-yard pass to junior wide receiver Thomas Howard, who made a leaping catch over junior cornerback Donte Gamble in the corner of the end zone.

"I saw some good things today," said SDSU head coach Ted Tollner. "The first offensive drive was very efficient."

The offense continued to roll on the second drive as sophomore quarterback Lon Sheriff directed the Aztecs into the red zone before coaches reset play at mid field. Sheriff, who finished the workout 9-for-12 passing for 95 yards, later hooked up with sophomore wide receive Daniel Gourdine on a 10-yard scoring strike to close out the scrimmage.

Freshman running back Justin Green, displaying the kind of field vision that made him a San Diego Section all-CIF choice last year at USD High School, led the SDSU ground assault with five carries for 25 yards, including a 14-yard burst midway through the scrimmage. Sophomore Garric Simmons added nine yards on six attempts.

"I thought the running backs did an excellent job today," Tollner said. "They now know that they have to give us some help and they were much more aggressive running the ball down field. I see a definite difference in both of them, because they all of a sudden see themselves as potential contributors. Simmons is hitting the hole quicker, and Justin Green was far better today than he has been."

The Aztec defense, which recorded nine sacks and forced four turnovers on Saturday, was limited to a single sack by sophomore defensive end Ryan Iata in today's action. Dylan Robles, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Rodney Allen, Beau Trickey and Iata all posted tackles for loss, while junior strong Safety Will Demps had the session's only pass break up.

 

Aztecs open season with Arizona State Aug. 31 on ESPN2.

San Diego State's 78th year of football gets underway on Thursday, Aug. 31st, when the Arizona State Sun Devils visit Qualcomm Stadium in a 7:05 p.m. start. The Aztecs play just five home games in 2000 with the second coming on Sept. 9th versus Illinois.

Each of San Diego State's first two games will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Dave Barnett will call the action with Bill Curry providing color for the ASU contest. Also on the telecast will be Michelle Tafoya and Mike Golic. SDSU will be making its fourth appearance on ESPN2. All three of the previous meetings came against Air Force, including last year's 23-22 loss to the Academy. The Aztecs defeated the Falcons in 1996 on ESPN2 (28-23) and lost to Air Force in 1997 (24-18) on The Deuce.

Arizona State and San Diego State are meeting for the eighth time, with the Sun Devils owning a 6-0-1 record against the Aztecs. The teams have not met since Dwight D. Eisenhower roamed the Oval office with the Sun Devils claiming a 66-0 victory on Oct. 26, 1957. The lone bright spot in the series for San Diego State was a 27-27 tie in 1951. San Diego State has not scored in the last three contests.

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