The Daily Aztec

SHANNON’S SHOUTOUT: Lindley overshadows a disappointing evening

by Staff

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The highlights will show a 21-yard field goal as time expired. Every article will mention the five turnovers. And of course, people won’t stop talking about Ryan Lindley’s debut performance.

But for me, the story of the San Diego State football team’s 29-27 loss to Cal Poly on Saturday night didn’t take place during the four quarters of football.

It happened immediately after the clock hit 0:00.

As that faithful field goal sealed SDSU’s second loss in three years to the Football Championship Subdivision (formally Division I-AA) Mustangs, every single Aztec hung his head except for one: Lindley.

The redshirt freshman quarterback was the first player to console the field-goal block unit – which consisted mostly of starting defenders – as they walked off the field. He walked up to each one of them, embraced them and apparently told them “they worked their butts off the entire game.”

But it didn’t stop there. As his entire team mindlessly high-fived Cal Poly in a line at midfield, Lindley stayed at the back. He then grabbed the first Mustang that came up, hugged him and moved onto the next.

Lindley may have suffered his first loss as a collegiate, but he proved he knows how to be a winner for his team. There may be six captains for SDSU, but he showed who the one true leader is.

Which is exactly why head coach Chuck Long said after the game that the silver lining in the loss was Lindley. Despite a defeat the Aztecs shouldn’t suffer, the future doesn’t look grim.

That is an easy thing to say after a quarterback goes out and throws for 352 yards and three touchdowns in his first collegiate game. But the numbers don’t impress me.

Take Russell Allen, the hands-down defensive leader of SDSU. The senior linebacker had a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and broke up a pass on a crucial fourth down in the Aztecs’ territory.

That stat line makes Allen look like a difference-maker, just as Lindley’s does. But what the stats don’t show is that Allen whiffed on almost every tackle he was presented with, and when he walked off the field, he was staring straight at his shoes.

Lindley, on the other hand, held his head high. He knows there will be days like this, and he knows there will be better games to come.

And now SDSU knows what it has under center until 2011: a gunslinging quarterback who takes charge and will only get better. Which gives the Aztecs three years to find another leader to shore up their defense.

Either that, or Lindley can line up at safety.

-Eric Shannon is a journalism senior.

-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.

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