Five observations from SDSU football’s scrimmage at annual Fan Fest


Kareem Jones

Sophomore running back Kaegun Williams attempts to break a tackle during the Aztecs' scrimmage at the annual Fan Fest on Saturday at SDCCU Stadium.

by Kyle Betz, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State football hosted its annual Fan Fest on Aug. 18, drawing hundreds of fans to the open scrimmage at SDCCU Stadium.

The scrimmage was similar to a real game: four 15-minute quarters and offense versus defense.

Although the offense was able to score a total of 30 points, head coach Rocky Long said he was not satisfied with the unit’s production.

“It was two different offenses out there, two different ways,” Long said. “So, if you look at it as a game, each offense scored 15 points, which is nothing.”

The Aztecs experimented with numerous offensive and defensive lineups throughout the night. Still, Long said the team does not look prepared to face Weber State on Aug. 31.

“Hopefully it’s not an indication for the 31st, because if we were playing Weber State today, we would’ve gotten beat bad,” Long said.

In case you weren’t able to make it to the stadium on Saturday, here are five observations from the scrimmage.

Baron’s successor drills three field goals in first half

During SDSU football media day on July 30, Rocky Long was unsure regarding former kicker John Baron’s replacement.

“We don’t know exactly who our kicker is going to be right now,” Long said.

It appears as if we now have an answer.

In the first half, redshirt freshman Matt Araiza nailed three field goals from 43 yards, 33 yards and 39 yards, respectively.

Araiza seemed to have no issue during his attempts. Each ball sailed through the uprights with plenty of distance to spare.

Young defensive line shows lack of experience

The defensive line was led by returning senior Myles Cheatum.

Cheatum, sophomore Keshawn Banks and freshman Cameron Thomas were regulars among the first-team defensive linemen.

Early on, Cheatum made a tackle for a 7-yard loss, while Thomas added two tackles.

Other notables on the defensive line were juniors Jalil Lecky (four tackles) and Jonah Tavai (three tackles) and freshman Daniel To’oto’o and Shawn Nielsen (two tackles each).

Nielsen also secured an interception off a tipped pass during the last play of the scrimmage.

SDSU hired Brady Hoke last February in an effort to improve its young defensive line core.

In terms of its development, however, Long said there is still a substantial amount of room for improvement.

“They have a long way to go,” Long said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “They didn’t play very well, it was unimpressive and they better get a whole lot better.”

Williams steals show in midst of backup running back competition

Senior Juwan Washington was in full pads and practiced before the scrimmage with the team, but he did not play.

A running back batch consisting of sophomores Jordan Byrd, Chance Bell, Kaegun Williams, redshirt freshman Zidane Thomas and freshman Justin Dinka had a chance to prove their worth.

Byrd started with the first-team at running back but was also experimented with at slot receiver. He finished with four carries for eight yards.

Bell saw most of his action come in the second drive of the first quarter.

He showed off his versatility by rushing the ball 40 yards and catching a pass for 12 more — leading to an Araiza field goal.

Bell saw limited action after that drive, only adding 15 more receiving yards to his total.

Williams, on the other hand, was isolated from his running back comrades in that he was the only one to receive praise from Long.

“Kaegun Williams ran the ball really hard,” Long said.

The Texas native finished with nine carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. Williams also corralled three passes for 27 yards.

Thomas and Dinka both split carries throughout the second half.

Thomas carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards and added a catch for nine more.

Dinka finished the scrimmage with nine carries for 71 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown late in the contest. He also tallied a catch for 3 yards.

Junior running back Chase Jasmin did not receive any carries on offense due to injury.

The running back situation is still unclear, but Williams seems most likely to get the job after his performance on Saturday.

Brookshire shines, backup quarterback still up for grabs

Redshirt freshman Carson Baker was the first to relieve senior Ryan Agnew in the scrimmage. 

He completed six passes for 46 yards and an interception.

Junior transfer Jordon Brookshire entered the game in the second quarter, completing 13-of-21 passed for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Brookshire also displayed his mobility with three carries for 16 yards.

Sophomore Mark Salazar entered the game in the second half and completed one pass for four yards.

There have been inconsistencies between all three potential backups throughout fall camp, but for now, it’s currently unclear whether Baker or Brookshire will obtain the backup position. 

Young receivers stand out 

Redshirt freshman Jesse Matthews was one of the surprise names that emerged from Fan Fest.

The San Diego native caught two passes for 39 yards and saw most of his action with the first-team offense.

As a redshirt, he earned 2018 SDSU Offensive Scout Player of the Year as a walk-on.

Sophomore Isaiah Richardson also impressed, hauling in six passes for 64 yards including a toe-tap, back-shoulder touchdown grab in the back of the end zone late in the first half.

Agnew was happy with the receiving corps’ showing.

“You just want as many guys as you can get out here getting good reps, doing the right thing, running the right routes, being (there) at the right time and right location,” Agnew said. “It was awesome to see.”

Other top performers include sophomore Kobe Smith (four receptions for 28 yards) and senior Chaz Collins (two receptions for 26 yards).

Sophomore Ethan Dedeaux did not make a catch but saw most of his action in the first quarter.

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