Fresno State wins Saturday at San Diego State 35-28 in an overtime thriller to improve to 7-0…
San Diego State: Keys to the Game
1) Passing Against the 3-3-5 San Diego State's last two games came against Nevada and Air Force, two of the Mountain West's premier running teams. The Wolf Pack ran 58 times while the Falcons ran 49 times against the Aztecs. SDSU held each team to under 180 yards and allowed 3.2 yards per carry on the combined 107 attempts. With Marteze Waller's status in question, the progress that the Bulldogs have made on the ground could come to a halt in San Diego. The good news for Fresno State; however, is that the Bulldogs' passing game has yet to be slowed down and quarterback Derek Carr played one of his best games against the Aztecs a season ago. Carr completed 42 of 56 passes against the Aztecs last year for 536 yards and 5 touchdowns. SDSU head coach Rocky Long is known for his 3-3-5 defense, but it hasn't been a good matchup against the Bulldogs' spread offense. "It's unique, so you've got to do a really good job of being sound," Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "They do a great job of pressuring quarterbacks, getting sacks and tackles for loss, and creating takeaways. It's similar in theory to a lot of the things that we try to do with our defense." For the second straight week, Fresno State expects to take advantage of man coverage for a big day through the air. DeRuyter emphasized attacking the favorable matchup, but also pass protection as well. Fresno State's o-line had one of their best performances of 2012 against the Aztecs, preventing any sacks throughout the game, and the much improved 2013 line appears to match up well against the 3-3-5 once again. "You've got to do a great job with protection, you've got to understand what they're doing coverage wise and attack them where we perceive there's weaknesses. If you can be effective in protection and not giving up tackles for loss, you've got a chance to attack it. If you don't, if you're in second-and-14 because you've given up a play on first down, that's where they really start to get you." 2) Contain San Diego State's Rushing Attack San Diego State running back Adam Muema ran for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012, but a slow start to this season has not hurt the Aztecs. Freshman Donnel Pumphrey exploded in his last three games, rushing for over 110 yards in all three games and bringing up his average yards per carry to 7.4 on the season. "They're both really quick." Fresno State nose guard Tyeler Davison said. "They're good at choosing which gaps are open and jump cutting… They're both explosive." For the Bulldogs, stopping SDSU starts with stopping the run game. "That'd be a big thing for us because the run game is the cornerstone of their team," Davison said. "They like to put a lot of big bodies in there and really pound the ball. We definitely need to stop that run game and get that under wraps, and try to put that quarterback under pressure." The interior defense has helped the Bulldogs become one of the nation's top teams in tackles for loss, even though the defensive line is not necessarily putting up the big numbers themselves. Davison, Nikko Motta, and Andy Jennings have been wrecking havoc for offensive lines and allowing outside linebackers and defensive backs to bring down ball carriers in the backfield. "Us on the interior, Nikko and Andy and them, they've been doing a good job too of taking up blockers, and making the line go this way or that way," Davison said. "There's a lot to it, but everybody's been doing their part and doing their job to get those sacks and those tackles for loss." 3) No Big Day from Kaehler Fresno State opened the season against teams known more for their running game than their passing game. Rutgers, Cal Poly, Boise State, and Hawaii were all teams that the Bulldogs felt could neutralize their offense by shutting down the running game first and forcing their quarterbacks to play beyond their capabilities. Those games did not go according to plan for the Bulldogs' defense, however. Both Gary Nova of Rutgers and Joe Southwick of Boise State led their offenses to high point totals, turning both games into shootouts. Reserve quarterbacks for Hawaii and Cal Poly each put up big second half totals to turn blowout games into competitive games. San Diego State quarterback Quinn Kaehler has been solid since taking the starting spot in the team's third game. Kaehler has completed 64% of his passes and has thrown 9 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. He has yet to show the big game capability that the Aztecs will likely need to pull off an upset on Saturday, however. Kaehler has not hit the 300 yard passing mark in a game. If the Bulldogs do stop the Aztecs' running game, they should be able to fluster Kaehler and leave Qualcomm Stadium with a blowout victory. Cornerback Curtis Riley doesn't expect any surprises from the Aztecs' passing game. "Everything is really basic," Riley said. "We've just got to keep our eyes right. They try to sleep us a little bit by running, running, running and then come with that one pass play, so we've got to make sure we're disciplined all the time and just tackle good."
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