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2018

San Diego State

College Football

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San Diego State wasn’t bad last year as it finished with a 10-3 record, it just lost to the best teams in the conference. The Aztecs used to hold the Mountain West mantle and for the first time in awhile, aren’t the favorites to win the West division as Fresno State took that spot (barely). The team is still talented, but with fewer returning starters and a difficult conference schedule, could be headed for another secondary finish. Of course, the Aztecs still are expected to be a good team with an over/under of 8.5 wins and +630 odds to win the MWC at 5Dimes Sportsbook (Fresno is +620)

The offense lost its top running back, but last year’s backup Juwan Washington (715 yards, 7 TDs, 5.9 ypc) is expected to come in and be another workhorse even listed at only 5-foot-7. That should be possible with experience along the line in four returning starters. After averaging 5.5 yards per carry last year, that number should be attainable even without Rashaad Penny. The upside in this offense depends on third-year starting quarterback Christian Chapman, who only reached 13 touchdowns last season, completing 60.1% of his passes. He wasn’t asked to do much because of a dominant ground game, but when needed, he didn’t produce, most evident in the 27-3 loss to Fresno State in which he had 77 yards on 20 attempts. Improving on those numbers will require working with new targets as Fred Trevillion (9 receptions) and Tim Wilson (6 rec.) step into bigger roles. Tight end Kahale Warring (18 rec.) could end up being the leading receiver. 

The defense should remain consistent and elite with six starters returning. Rocky Long always tends to have a good group in his 3-3-5 scheme and that should be the case even with Zach Arnett moving into the coordinator spot (from linebackers coach) as Danny Gonzalez moved to Arizona State. Overall, the group has to be more consistent after holding down a team like Stanford early then having trouble against Boise, Fresno and Army later in the year. Tackle Noble Hall and linebacker Ronley Lakalaka are the main playmakers up front, while sophomore safety Tariq Thompson quickly made a name for himself last year with five interceptions. The pass defense surrounded by Thompson with fellow safety Parker Baldwin could be the best in the conference. 

But the biggest question in the opener will be the run defense as it tries to stop Stanford and Bryce Love. It’s unlikely the Aztecs will steal another win, especially on the road against the Cardinal, which will immediately give them more non-conference losses than in 2017. The Mountain West schedule doesn’t provide much room for error, either, as the Aztecs travel to the two best teams in Boise and Fresno, which they lost to at home last year. While every other game should be a win, that doesn’t leave much room for a poor performance when betting over on 8.5 wins. It’ll be hard to improve defensively with a new coordinator and it’s asking a lot of Juwan Washington to match Rashaad Penny’s 2,027 rushing yards. Unless Chapman improves under center, the same flaws will show up for this team when faced against better competition.  

 

2018 San Diego State Aztecs Football Schedule

Aug. 31 at Stanford 

Sept. 8 vs. Sacramento State

Sept. 15 vs. Arizona State

Sept. 22 vs. Eastern Michigan

Oct. 6 at Boise State

Oct. 12 vs. Air Force

Oct. 20 vs. San Jose State

Oct. 27 at Nevada

Nov. 3 at New Mexico

Nov. 10 vs. UNLV

Nov. 17 at Fresno State

Nov. 24 vs. Hawai’i

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