SDSU: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Submitted by Eye of the Tiger on September 24th, 2011 at 3:19 PM

The Good:

1. The Run Offense, especially Denard in the first half.  Fitz and Smith both showed some good moves as well.  It wasn't all good though...we stunk in the 3rd quarter and Hopkins, really, shouldn't be considered a serious option at this point.  

2. The Run Defense.  We stuffed a great running attack today, and the D-Line was fantastic...this is a huge improvement over last year.  

3. The Freshmen.  Morgan, Ryan and Countess all impressed me, Countess more than anyone.  These are real players who are going to be major stars for years to come.

The Bad:

1. The Pass Offense.  Tacopants is still the 12th Man.  While blame for that falls largely on Denard--who is consistently overthrowing our receivers--I also have a problem with the playcalling.  If your QB isn't throwing accurately, why not add more high percentage pass plays?  More screens (including bubble screens), hitches, curls, waggles, checkdowns and drags would be good.  Sure, these aren't plays aren't big yard getters, but what we need right now is more completions for positive yardage.  If we rely on our running game to get us out of every mess, we'll end up with the same problems we had last year against Big 10 defenses.  This is what I hoped to get from Borges, and still hope to get.  But I'm starting to lose confidence that it will happen...

2. The Pass Defense.  While still better than last year, we're just not good covering the middle of the field.  About a dozen times, Lindley had guys open, and either threw a bad pass or had his receivers botch an easy catch.  Unnerving.  

The Ugly:

1. Consistency on Offense.  We still can't play 4 consistent quarters on offense.  This is a problem that goes back to 2009, and has not--apparently--been solved by the new coaching staff.  If we don't find a way to move the ball for an entire game, we're going to have problems in conference play.  




September 24th, 2011 at 3:24 PM ^

yes.. we will lose to a lot of teams in the big ten if denard can't complete any passes, or if borges continues to run denard 3 straight plays every drive...


September 24th, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

I dunno.  If the objective is the run off clock, hand it to the RBs.  I just think Denard being our whole O is just unsustainable.  When we hit the better teams in the B1G, they'll focus completely on Denard (like 2 people spying him), and it will shut down the O unless we can establish an RB and and/or get the passing game working.  Look at last year.  The passing game was much better and our O was still 1 dimensional enough to be stopped by the top D's.  I'm just not seeing the improvement I had hoped to see.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^

I agree, but DG can't be worse at throwing than this. As I said below, right now, Denard is nothing more than a glorified running back. If he doesn't run it, why would we want him out there? He clearly has regressed at throwing the ball, and I don't blame the OC. He is missing Wide open WR and TE and was comically late on that INT. Everyone saw that Int happening before the throw


September 24th, 2011 at 4:24 PM ^

The routes are all different than what he's accustomed to, a high percentage of the passes have been fly's and long stuff into coverage. He's not made for that. He should  be throwing screens, crossing patterns, and short hitches to open up the ground game more for the rb's. IMO of course.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:49 PM ^

He has more than enough arm to hit a deep out. I really think it is mental with him...hopefully it slows down for him, but right now, he is late on his reads. Does this mean we don't throw read plays, or deep seems or outs for that matter. With a running qb, those are the passes he must make to keep the safety off of the LOS, not screens


September 24th, 2011 at 4:45 PM ^

Did you watch Toussaint run the ball? The fact that they keep avoiding at giving toussaint the ball for 20 plus times a game to me is baffling..  

Let this kid be the future, which he will be as a running back, and let that open up our passing game...  With Denard running every play our offense is so predictable it is pathetic...


Whenever Denard does pass the other team knows it every time and denard over throws a pass by 30 yards


September 24th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

Not happy at all?

We jumped out to a 21-0 lead despite many medai talking heads thinking we could actually lose this one.

We did a pretty good job of stopping the nation's second leading rusher.

Our defense played pretty damn well.

Blake Countess was a very pleasant surprise.

Nobody seems to have gotten seriously hurt.

We're undefeated at 4-0 heading into the conference schedule.

Not happy at all?


September 24th, 2011 at 3:47 PM ^

Way too much whining about playcalling for a 28-7 victory against a team we could have possibly lost to. Playcalling isn't going to fix Denard's passing issues. There were many screen-type short passes that Denard was missing too. I don't know what the problem is, but I hope he figures it out ASAP. Good thing we still have time to fix it before some real tough competition shows up...albeit time is running short.


Blue boy johnson

September 24th, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

Don't forget Roh, he was great today. This D makes plays, something that hasn't happened much the last few years.

SDSU would have scored 40 against last years D, and with the field position M's O gave SDSU they probably would have scored 50

Oaktown Wolverine

September 24th, 2011 at 5:08 PM ^

I don't think saying that last years defense would give up 40 points is insulting to the players. It's not their fault GERG did not prepare them well or draw up a good defensive gameplan. As we can see, the new coaching staff has made some major improvements within a short period of time with essantially the same players. As someone else mentioned the freshmen that are stepping out on the field do not look lost but instead well coached.

Oaktown Wolverine

September 24th, 2011 at 5:55 PM ^

The players did not get better 2009 to 2010 with Gerg in charge, so what makes you think they would get better 2010 to 2011 without the coaching change? The schemes didn't work, and the fundementals were not stressed enough. JT Floyd didn't just decide to face the receivers instead of the ball on pass plays because he has 1 extra year of experience, its because the coaches want him to cover that way.


September 24th, 2011 at 6:24 PM ^

First off, JT Floyd was injured most of last year, so you are right, he didn't get much better because he didn't play. And which players are you talking about that didn't get better from 2009 to 2010? Last year we didn't return 10 starters and in 2009 we were starting 3 walk-ons, so I am interested to hear which freshmen and sophomores didn't get better? You realize that currently there are very few players on the defensive 2 deep that were actually around in 2009, right?


September 24th, 2011 at 6:27 PM ^

Why didn't they improve from 2009 to 2010? Because the 5 members of the secondary was composed of freshmen and sophomores.  Only two of them had played any meaningful time before that.  Because the best player on the 2009 defense (Brandon Graham) had graduated and the best player on the 2010 defense (Mike Martin) played most of the year with a high ankle sprain.

There were lots of freshmen and sophomores who got large chunks of playing time.  The beauty of that is that this year they are experienced sophomores and juniors.

The defensive coaching is definitely a drastic improvement over last year.  I don't think there is anybody that thinks the defensive coaching situation from 2010 should have been kept the same.  Whether there was any chance of good defensive coaching under Rodriguez is unknown.  But there are a lot of returning experienced players for the new good coaches to work with.

It's like upgrading from Applebee's to a 5-star restaurant.  The chef (def. coordinator) is much much better but also the ingredients (returning players) are higher quality.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^

Wait, what? You would rather have an ugly offensive day than have solid defensive play?

Obviously that has to be a mistake but I have no idea what you actually meant to say.  I'm guessing "take an ugly day on offense with solid defense over a great offense with bad defense"???


September 24th, 2011 at 3:26 PM ^

I would switch the run D and pass D. While Hillman didn't break the game open, he did get over 100 yards. However, their passing game didn't look very good except for the last two drives with (semi) prevent D.


September 24th, 2011 at 3:46 PM ^

I actually think the D played great today....alot of turnovers, consistently busting the pocket, kept containment (thank god), and had great coverage on the outside. 

If the offense ever managed to be consistent (TOP was even today, but I felt that SDSU always had the ball) and allow the D to rest, I think they would be much much better.

Overall, Mattison is a great coach and their is clear improvement from everyone


September 24th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

We got a consistently good pass rush, and I thought coverage was admirable - not lock down, but admirable.  Mostly quick tackles on screens, and while SDSU helped us out with a few drops, they also made a few circus catches in great coverage.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^

I know why we are running Denard, he gets yards. However, we know his number of carries is not sustainable. If we put him out there to run 21 times and only pass 17 times, why not start running two QBs more to balance out the passing game? We have seen the toll the Big10 takes on Denard, might as well get Devin reps (not garbage time) since he will be needed. I guess the flip side is that we really don't know how well Devin is making his own reads and throws in live action.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:12 PM ^

You keep calling him a glorified RB, which is an incredible insult. The guy just ran for 200 yds against a solid SDSU team and had a subpar day passing, but led his team to a convincing victory on a day the team didn't play very well overall. A win is a win. He will get better. Give him a break


September 24th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

Also, 4th game with a new offensive coordinator.  Give it some time.  Give Borges and Robinson a little more time to get acquainted and the game should slow down for Denard and Borges will become more familiar with his QB's capabilities and limitations. 


September 24th, 2011 at 3:31 PM ^

I actually have a decent amount of confidence that they will get it together.  It's a work in progress, and Al will eventually scheme to set up Denard for success. He just needs some confidence. 

Defensively - wow.  Great effort - nice to see the DL again.  Great game by Jake Ryan. Ryan Van Bergen and Craig Roh. 



Coastal Elite

September 24th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

was how we came out right away firing on all cylinders on both sides of the football. After sluggish starts against Western, ND, and Eastern, I was afraid that the first quarter hangover was becoming a hallmark of Hoke's tenure. It was nice to see a 3-and-out and then a quick 14-0 lead.