Kaehler, Aztecs respected on Fox Sports 1 broadcast

by Mike Heral, Staff Columnist

While San Diego State wasn’t able to avenge last year’s last-second loss to Oregon State University, viewers of Fox Sports 1’s broadcast of the game had to be pleased with the way the network’s announcing team treated the Aztecs with respect.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a critique. Analyst Joey Harrington either needs to stay caffeine-free on game day, or he needs to run laps during commercial breaks. He’s too amped, and his over-exuberance gets in the way. Whether it’s stammering from trying to say too many things at once, or losing control of his vocal delivery, Harrington is difficult to take during his most hyper-kinetic moments.

It’s ironic, then, that Harrington assessed SDSU quarterback Quinn Kaehler’s early game jitters. Following Kaehler missing an easy scoring opportunity during the Aztecs’ opening series, Harrington informed viewers that Kaehler always fights his emotions during the first quarter. His analysis was spot on; if not unintentionally funny given that this is a flaw Harrington shares.

Despite his propensity to go full-Dick Vitale, Harrington’s insights are always valuable. His three keys to victory for each team factored into the game’s outcome. SDSU couldn’t counter Oregon States’ linebacker speed. Those linebackers were continually in Kaehler’s face, never allowing him to feel comfortable. And on defense, the Aztecs didn’t have an answer for Beaver senior quarterback Sean Mannion.

Harrington’s only miss was not describing Rocky Long’s “3-3-5” defense early enough. While Harrington pointed out the unusual alignment during the Aztecs first defensive series, he didn’t inform viewers what the numbers meant, or why it causes assignment problems for the opposing offense.

He didn’t get around to that until the start of the third quarter, which was way too late since the Aztecs sacked Mannion three times in the first half. However, once Harrington got to it, his recommendation to the Beavers was so simple—“just block the man and not the position he’s playing” — that it demystified Long’s approach.

Play-by-play announcer Joe Davis remained so steady that I forgot I wasn’t listening to FS1’s top announcing team. Davis’s job was a welcome relief given the announcing duds that the Aztecs sometimes draw, and rarely more so than when the team’s fans are tortured by ESPN 3. Davis has learned what might be the most difficult thing for an announcer to master: When to raise his voice. Unlike notorious shouters such as Al Michaels or Joe Buck, Davis keeps his voice in check until it’s time to turn it up.

Aztec fans ought to recognize Saturday night’s sideline reporter, given that Kris Budden hosts Fox Sports San Diego’s “Aztec Football with Rocky Long.” As sideline reporters go, Budden wasn’t given much to do. An injury update here, a coach interview there. I have to admit that I still don’t see the value added by sideline reporters.

But FS1’s value is easy to see. So far, it’s the only one of the sports networks treating each opponent equally. The broadcast team knew SDSU well, even if this is the only Aztecs football game on FS1’s slate. I’ll be watching FS1 more on college game day Saturdays.

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