First game jitters. Scorching temperatures. A CBS national television audience. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear from last week’s season and stadium opener – San Diego State did not play well in its 38-20 loss to the University of Arizona. In any phase of the game.
Aztec Head Coach Brady Hoke made that point early in his weekly press conference.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed in how we played, how we coached and losing the football game,” he said. “Our focus this week is obviously to improve, play better at every position, coach better at every position, all three phases. There are things that we need to do better. We have to continue to do that.”
While SDSU’s running game found success throughout the contest piling up 170 yards on the ground, the much-anticipated passing game struggled. Virginia Tech transfer Braxton Burmeister started the game for the Aztecs going 5 for 10 in passing for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. The senior transfer showed the toughness he is known for rushing 10 times for 20 yards while absorbing some punishing hits.
Will Haskell spelled Burmeister and completed 2 of 6 passes for only 11 yards. The 62 yards in total passing offense indicate there is much work to be done to achieve a balanced attack.
And, while some point to the inexperience of the offensive line for the team’s offensive struggles, which started three new players along the front, Hoke quickly placed responsibility on the entire offensive unit.
“There’s a little bit for everybody,” he said. “You know, there’s a little bit from Braxton. He’s got to be a little more patient, and we have to do a better job up front. We have to make sure our routes are detailed, and so I wouldn’t just pick on one group.”
In this week’s Sons of Montezuma Film Room, our resident Coach C incredibly caught on to those exact points from head coach Hoke. The passing game miscues were more than just the O-line’s alone. Check out the single play below to get a greater understanding of how all components of a passing play need to work together to be successful.
For the Aztecs offense to improve, Braxton Burmeister’s health depends on it. The quarterback’s performance this past Saturday revealed two very visible things about this years offense: 1. He is very likely to take off running if he does not see or feel comfortable throwing to a receiver on ANY given play. And 2. SDSU’s OC Jeff Hecklinski has a healthy amount of set running plays just for him.
Even if blocked correctly and perfectly, the availability of Braxton at the QB1 spot all season long has already been proven to not be a reality. The remaining question is can Burmeister and his offense keep him available for the rest of the season.
This week SDSU will look to bounce back as they welcome FCS school Idaho State to Snapdragon. The Bengals opened their season with a 52-21 loss to Mountain West Conference squad UNLV. The Aztecs played Idaho State in 2004 and came away with a convincing 38-21 victory.
This year’s team will look to capitalize on an Idaho State defense that gave up 34.1 points a game last season. Despite sitting out most of the second half last week, Hoke indicated Burmeister looks good to go to be behind center once again this week.
With rain in the forecast for Saturday’s 5 p.m. kickoff, Aztecs fans should not be surprised to see a continued emphasis on the run game. Cam Davis, Chance Bell and Jaylon Armstead all showed flashes from the running back spot against the Wildcats.
The key will likely be, as it often is, the play of the offensive line. Look for this young group to make a statement this week. Coach Hoke remains confident in this group heading into game two.
“We got to play a little better when it comes to being more fundamentally sound in what we’re doing, play with a better pad level, I think that would be something to work on,” he said. “But overall, I think they’ll continue to improve.”
Let’s see what jumps this Aztec team makes from week one to week two and, not to mention, playing in temperatures more suited for football than last week’s record-setting afternoon.
Episode #72: SDSU vs Idaho State Preview w/Greg Woods of the Idaho State Journal.