Making the Grade

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SUBJECT MARKS Quarterbacks The key to junior Matt Dlugolecki?s performance during Saturday night?s 27-10 SDSU victory against Nevada was timeliness. Dlugolecki made good throws when SDSU needed them most, and made mistakes during non-crucial moments. The SDSU signal-caller finished the game 23-of-40 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Overall, he played a decent game but would have easily eclipsed the 300-yard mark, had he not misfired on a few deep balls. Against a mediocre Wolf Pack squad, the interceptions can be considered acceptable, but with UCLA next on the roadmap, the Aztecs can?t afford any unnecessary turnovers. B- Running backs No Lynell Hamilton? No problem. Michael Franklin’s shifty runningstyle coupled with Brandon Bornes’ tackle-breaking ability proved tobe just as good as Hamilton. The two combined for 159 yards on 32carries, including a 35-yard Bornes touchdown run. If the two canremain consistent, the loss of Hamilton won’t be as severe asoriginally thought.

Despite a lost fumble by Bornes in the second half, SDSU’s groundattack was a success. B Wide receivers Junior wideout Jeff Webb turned in his second-straight 100-yard performance, clocking out with nine grabs for 101 yards and a touchdown. Webb consistently beat Nevada’s defensive backs and drew two pass interference penalties that put the Aztecs in scoring range. Sophomore Ramal Porter also stepped up, tallying 54 yards on four receptions and SDSU’s final touchdown that inevitably sealed the victory. Anytime an Aztec receiver besides Webb steps ups, SDSU will be tough to defend through the air. B+ Offensive line The Aztec front five opened up running lanes on a consistent basis, while giving Dlugolecki plenty of time to throw the ball and step into his throws on most occasions. Aside from surrendering two sacks, the unit dominated the Wolf Pack and rarely allowed Nevada’s front four to make plays at the line of scrimmage. B+ Defensive line SDSU’s front four didn’t make any eye-popping plays Saturday night but did enough to control the line of scrimmage. The unit stood its ground but didn’t register much pressure on the opposing quarterback, as Robert Miller was the only lineman with a sack. By holding up the Wolf Pack offensive line, the Aztec D-line allowed the rest of the defense to swarm ball carriers and were the ultimate cause of negative-yardage plays. B Linebackers All-American senior Kirk Morrison finished with 15 tackles, while fellow senior Heath Farwell displayed his ability to get around the corner and tallied two sacks on linebacker blitzes. Both combined for five tackles for losses and continuously made spectacular open-field tackles, while junior Matt McCoy added a blocked field goal to the stat sheet. It seemed as though the unit was always in the right place at the right time and plugged Nevada’s running lanes up, allowing a meager rushing total of just 84 yards. When the linebackers play as well as they did against the Wolf Pack, the rest of the defense always seems to gel together and play better as a cohesive unit. A Secondary Nevada’s receiving core wasn’t cut any slack Saturday and was forced to earn every catch it made by a very aggressive Aztec secondary. SDSU broke up a season-high 12 passes and didn’t give Wolf Pack quarterback Jeff Rowe any leeway. Senior free safety Marviel Underwood shined once again, snagging two interceptions and becoming the sixth player in Aztec history to start a season with an interception in his first three games. A- Special teams Freshman kicker Garrett Palmer redeemed himself after a forgettable performance last week at Michigan. Palmer nailed two long-range field goals of 50 and 47 yards, while getting the majority of his kickoffs inside the 5-yard line. SDSU’s punt coverage also played well, as Kyle Conerly continued to show his great hustle ability as an outside gunner. A- Coaching Head coach Tom Craft set the tone of his game plan early on, opting to go for three fourth downs in the first quarter alone and converted them all. The play-calling was very well done and kept Nevada on its heels for the majority of the contest. Craft did a good job of creating mismatches – the most evident being Porter’s 19-yard touchdown reception – and gave the Wolf Pack several different looks. Craft and the Aztecs seemed much better off when playing with a non-conservative style and taking the occasional shots downfield. B+