Aztecs head to Colorado State, look to win first conference game of season

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Aztecs head to Colorado State, look to win first conference game of season

Sophomore running back Jordan Byrd rushes the ball during the Aztecs' 23-17 loss to Utah State on Sept. 21 at SDCCU Stadium.

Sophomore running back Jordan Byrd rushes the ball during the Aztecs' 23-17 loss to Utah State on Sept. 21 at SDCCU Stadium.

Kareem Jones

Sophomore running back Jordan Byrd rushes the ball during the Aztecs' 23-17 loss to Utah State on Sept. 21 at SDCCU Stadium.

Kareem Jones

Kareem Jones

Sophomore running back Jordan Byrd rushes the ball during the Aztecs' 23-17 loss to Utah State on Sept. 21 at SDCCU Stadium.

by Kyle Betz, Assistant Sports Editor

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San Diego State football will attempt to avenge its sole loss of the season as it travels to face Mountain West Conference foe Colorado State on Oct. 5.

The Rams (1-4, 0-1 MWC) have been able to put up explosive numbers on offense despite losing their starting quarterback, junior Collin Hill, to an ACL injury on Sept. 14.

Junior backup quarterback Patrick O’Brien has completed 58.1% of his passes for 757 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in relief.

O’Brien now leads an offense that ranks 16th in total yards on offense per game (501) and 14th in passing yards per game (319.4).

Aztecs (3-1, 0-1 MWC) head coach Rocky Long said Colorado State’s “explosive” offense resembles that of Utah State.

“They’re exactly the same athletically,” Long said. “Explosive. They can run it, they can throw it, all those kind of things. They’re scoring a lot of points and gaining a lot of yards. It’s going to be a very tough football game.”

Two Colorado State wide receivers have continued to put up consistent numbers even with the loss of their starting quarterback.

Leading the receiving corps is freshman Dante Wright, who has 26 catches for 407 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Warren Jackson has tallied 31 receptions for 327 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior cornerback Luq Barcoo said the Aztecs defense needs to take advantage of the Rams’ passing game in order to force turnovers.

“They’re a very similar team to Utah State, an offense that’s putting up a lot of points,” Barcoo said. “They have a new quarterback … there are definitely going to be some opportunities for turnovers, so we’ve just got to take advantage.”

Speaking of turnovers, Colorado State is tied with Nebraska to lead the FBS in fumbles lost (nine).

Three of the nine fumbles have come from Rams senior running back Marvin Kinsey, Jr., who has 626 rushing yards on 90 attempts with four touchdowns.

Kinsey, Jr. will face the second-ranked rushing defense in the country in the Aztecs (3-1, 0-1 MW), who have allowed a mere 52.3 rushing yards per contest.

Long said he hopes the Aztecs can exploit the Rams in the turnover battle.

“I think turnovers (are) the biggest factor in winning and losing, especially when it’s a close game,” Long said. “And I think they come in bunches. That doesn’t mean they’re going to continue that way.”

After the 23-17 loss to Utah State on Sept. 21, SDSU had its first of two bye weeks.

Long said his players would have preferred to have played another game following their first loss of the season.

“Our players would rather have played last week,” Long said. “I don’t think players at this time of year like to practice without the opportunity to play a game. But we got some things done, I think, and they were pretty enthusiastic to be back out there (during Monday’s practice).”

Throughout the bye week, the Aztecs focused on technique during practice.

Senior tight end Parker Houston said the off week allowed him and his teammates to perfect technical aspects of their game.

“It allows us to work more on things we during camp, like our fundamentals,” Houston said. “We get back to executing footwork, blocking techniques, route running. We get to do the little things right again.”

The Scarlet and Black enters its second game of conference play not knowing whether senior running back Juwan Washington will be able to play.

Washington hasn’t seen action since the Aztecs’ 23-14 win over UCLA on Sept. 7, when he suffered an ankle injury.

Long said Washington still isn’t fully healthy entering Saturday’s game.

“(Washington) ran around pretty good, but he didn’t look 100%, so I guess he’s the only one that knows how close he is to 100%,” Long said. “Hopefully he’ll be fine by Saturday and can play.”

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