San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

SDSU looking to end conference road slate undefeated in duel with Spartans

Photo by Kelly Smiley
Senior running back Rashaad Penny blows by a Bulldog defender during SDSU’s 3-27 loss to Fresno State on Oct. 21.

San Diego State football plays its final road game of the year on Saturday when it faces off against San Jose State University in a Mountain West Conference clash.

The Aztecs (7-2, 3-2 MW) will be attempting to start a new winning streak, following their 28-7 victory over University of Hawaii, which came on the heels of consecutive conference losses to Boise State University and Fresno State University, the latter of whom SDSU sits a game behind in the Mountain West West division standings.

SDSU head coach Rocky Long said that his team is excited about the season moving ahead, after getting back on the right side of the scoreboard.

We look forward to having the opportunity to try to win another game, after we won a game in Hawaii, and after a couple weeks of losing,” Long said. “It’s a lot more fun to win obviously and our players are excited about the game coming up.”

SJSU (1-8, 0-4 MW) has had trouble finding the win column this season, and are on a seven-game losing streak that has them sitting in the basement of the Mountain West’s West division.

The Spartans have struggled under first-year head coach Brent Brennan, going winless since week two against Cal Poly of the Big Sky Conference in the FCS.

It’s a new coach with a new program so they’re running different things on offense and defense that they didn’t the year before,” Long said, “and they have quite a few young players playing so they’re very inconsistent.”

The Spartans conference-worst rushing defense will be challenged by senior running back Rashaad Penny, who ran for a career-high 253 yards against Hawaii and is the nation’s second-leading rusher with 1368 yards.

Penny predicts to be a matchup nightmare for a SJSU team giving up 276.89 rushing yards a contest, and Long said his star running backs confidence never faltered during the Aztecs skid, even while being held to under 70-yards rushing in both games.

I think Rashaad is always confident,” Long said. “I hate to say the same thing over and over again, but Rashaad Penny is as good a running back as there is in the country. When he doesn’t get 100 yards, it’s not him. It’s the big boys up front.”

Starting at quarterback for SJSU will be freshman Montel Aaron.

The young signal caller split time early in the season with sophomore Josh Love, but has established himself as the team’s starter since returning two weekends ago from a three game absence due to a right knee injury.

Aaron has 928 yards passing this season with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He passed for 198 yards on 25 of 39 attempts with two touchdowns and one interception in the team’s 41-20 loss this past weekend against Brigham Young University.

SDSU redshirt sophomore cornerback Ron Smith will be one of the players tasked with defending the Spartans’ pass attack, and said the Aztecs must look past their opponent’s record this weekend.

“We have to keep our foot on the gas and play like we’re playing a team that’s undefeated, and that’s as simple as that,” Smith said. “We need to prepare the right way and then come out on Saturday and play the right way.”

Starting his 26th straight game under center for the Aztecs will be redshirt junior quarterback Christian Chapman, who has passed for 1368 yards this season with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

Chapman has been under siege at times this season while taking a Mountain West-worst 26 sacks, and said that the Spartans defensive line, while ranking near the bottom of the conference with 10 sacks, is better than the team’s record indicates.

They’re big up front, they’ve got some big boys,” Chapman said. “They’re really athletic, their record kind of surprised me because of how good and athletic they are up front.”

A player to watch on the SJSU defense is junior linebacker Frank Ginda, who leads the nation in total tackles with 124.

For the Aztecs, junior defensive lineman Chibu Onyeukwu had two quarterback sacks against Hawaii, and will face a Spartans team that has allowed 23 quarterback sacks this season.

Life on the road has been good for SDSU, and a victory this weekend will make the team 5-0 away from home for the first time since 1952.

The last time the Aztecs went undefeated on the road for a full season was in 1976, when they finished 3-0.

About the Contributor
Abraham Jewett
Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor
Abraham Jewett is The Daily Aztec's sports editor for the 2018-19 academic year.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
SDSU looking to end conference road slate undefeated in duel with Spartans