Aztecs’ tank still running low

SDSU oil can slider cropped

SAN DIEGO — With the price of petroleum, maybe the can is worth more than the oil.

Hard to say but we won’t get slick here: San Diego State’s fuel tank light is on.

Before this Aztecs football season runs out of gas, SDSU gets a shot at visiting Fresno State on Saturday.

It’s among the top rivalry games the Aztecs have, with the victor getting the Old Oil Can Trophy.

OK, as far as swag goes, it’s not exactly the new Apple Watch.

But the time is now for the fading Aztecs (1-3), after losing three straight. Up next is three straight Mountain West games.

“I think as a total program, players included and coaches for sure, we’re disappointed in the way we’ve played to this point,” coach Rocky Long said. “I think going into the season we had some expectations that we would be much better than we are right now, that we’d be playing better than we are right now, but that’s in the past. You have to keep moving forward just like you do everywhere else in life. Work to get better and keep moving forward, and what happens happens”

What’s not happening is SDSU playing with any consistency.

The running game, in which the Aztecs were to hang their helmet on, is spotty. All-Everything running back Donnel Pumphrey has 305 rushing yards, which isn’t much with the calendar turning to October.

Long still is in a quandary over his quarterback situation.

The defense has shown flashes, and if only Long could play 11 Jake Felys.

The special teams is A-No. 1 in kickoff return and any chance Rashaad Penny could give his two cents to the Chargers on Sunday?

Overall, SDSU is performing like a gas engine running of desiel.

“At times we look good enough to win the conference championship,” Long said, “and at times we look like we don’t belong on the field.”

No team has shared the turf with the Aztecs more than Fresno State (1-3, 0-1). This is the 55th time they’ve squared off, with SDSU owning a 27-23-4 edge.

For all the warts the Aztecs have revealed they’re still undefeated in MW play. Which is to say, Saturday is their MW opener.

“We understand our position,” cornerback J.J. Whittaker said. “We’re not where we wanted to be at this point but we can still achieve the goals that we plan to achieve, and that’s winning a 20th championship.
“I think guys are excited. It’s almost like a fresh start when you go into conference 0-0. We just want to start off on the right page.”

Maybe like the Browns facing the Chargers this weekend, the Bulldogs will be the Aztecs’ tonic.

Fresno State was down to Ford Childress, its third-string quarterback, in losing to San Jose State, 49-23, last Saturday — then he suffered a serious injury.

Tough to say what the Bulldogs will present under center. But this bunch has as many holes as the Aztecs.

“I know both teams are desperate for a win,” defensive end Jon Sanchez said. “I know we are for sure.”
Despite not knowing which quarterback Fresno State will play, the Aztecs will recognize the approach: stay keen on the assignments in facing another spread offense.

“We know what offense they’re going to run,” Sanchez said. “They’re going to spread it out, do all that misdirection and try to get the ball to the outside. We’re going to be ready for it.”

Ready or not, the Aztecs season has reached a fork.

Go beat Fresno State, the losing streak vanishes and hopes for a MW title finds a pulse.

Go toes up against the Bulldogs and a once promising season gets on a shorter leash.

“We’ve got some talent on our football team,” Long said. “But that doesn’t make you a good football team.”

Maybe all it needs is a little oil.


+ Contact Jay Paris at Follow him on Twitter at @jparis_sports.



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