Monday, February 13, 2017

Farewell to 2016: San Diego State Aztecs

2016 was a season of recurrent dominance on one side (San Diego State), and a resurgence on the other (Wyoming). The strength of the MWC was once again on the Mountain Division side of the league, as both Boise State and Air Force finished with 10 wins after bowl season was over with, and New Mexico finished with 9 wins. Wyoming, finished with 8 after being one of the worst programs in America in recent seasons. The Cowboys made it to the MWC title game after holding off charges from both Boise State and New Mexico, and while the season could have finished better for the Cowboys, the surge in success in Laramie had to be recognized as a huge move forward for Craig Bohl and his Cowboy program. In the West, Hawaii showed signs of life under Nick Rolovich, but the rest of the division, not including San Diego State, tanked once again, that side of the league will have 3 new head coaches in 2017. Here is a look back at the season that was in 2016.

San Diego State Aztecs
11-3 (6-2)

2016 Schedule
Beat New Hampshire 31-0
Beat California 45-40
Beat Northern Illinois 42-28
Lost to South Alabama 42-24
Beat UNLV 26-7
Beat Fresno State 17-3
Beat San Jose State 42-3
Beat Utah State 40-13
Beat Hawaii 55-0
Beat Nevada 46-16
Lost to Wyoming 34-33
Lost to Colorado State 63-31
Beat Wyoming 27-24 (MWC Title Game)
Beat Houston 34-10 (Las Vegas Bowl)

MVP Offense: RB Donnel Pumphrey, RB Rashaad Penny
Pumphrey became the all-time leading rusher in NCAA history in the win over Houston, and ran for 2133 yards and 17 scores on the season, while averaging 152.36 yards per game. He also averaged 6.11 yards per carry, while also averaging 24.93 carries per game, making him the perfect feature back. 
Penny showed that even if Pumphrey was not on the field, that the offense was just fine, as he rushed for 1018 yards as the primary backup. He scored 11 times, and averaged 7.49 yards per carry, while averaging 72 yards on just 9 carries per game. 
MVP Defense: LB Calvin Munson
Munson was the proverbial wrecking ball for the Aztecs in 2016. He totaled 116 tackles, racked up 11 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, 3 PBUs, and 5 QB hurries, while leading a defensive unit that allowed just 20.2 points per game. Munson collected a season high 14 tackles in the win over Cal, had 11 tackles twice (New Hampshire, Wyoming Part 1), and collected another 10 tackles against Fresno State. He forced 3 QB hurries against Cal as well.
Others of Note: QB Christian Chapman had a solid sophomore effort, passing for 1994 yards and 20 scores, but really had to do very little but manage games with Pumphrey and Penny running wild. 
Freshman RB JuWan Washington showed some flash, averaging 8.02 yards every time he carried the football, and could be a star in the making. Expect to see him get more time in 2017.
Only 3 receivers caught 20 or more passes in 2016, again, as the running game dominated the show. 
DL Alex Barrett had a rock solid season up front, as he led the team with 13.5 TFLs and 7.5 sacks. He finished with 53 total tackles, 8 QB hurries, and 4 PBUs. 
Damontae Kazee, out DB of the Year in 2015, was at it again, as he led the team with 7 INTs. That gives him a 2 year total of 15. He finished with 8 total PBUs and 65 tackles. 
Kyle Kelley tied for the team hig in QB hurries with 8. 
John Barron II was one of the most dependable kickers in the nation, hitting 21/23 FGs. 
Penny added 624 yards on kick returns, with another 2 scores coming on those returns. 
Best Win: Houston 34-10
The win secured the Aztecs as one of the best non P5 programs in college football right now against an opponent that was a bit of a mess coming in due to a coaching change,m and a further change in interim coaches right before the game. Houston had been a national darling back in September before things got a little strange for them. 
Worst Loss: South Alabama 42-24
USA had some strange wins this season, and some even stranger losses, and this was a terrible loss for the Aztecs early in the season, as it took them out of any serious consideration for a NY6 bowl. What made it worse was the quality of many of their wins was not great, as they defeated 8 teams who never made it to a bowl in 2016. 
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 UC Davis, 9/9 at Arizona State, 9/16 Stanford, 9/30 Northern Illinois
The Aztecs look solid against this schedule heading into 2017. The opener is an easy win over UCD, while a road win over Arizona State is not out of the question. Stanford provides a huge shot for the Aztecs to gain 2 wins over the PAC-12 in an upset fashion, and the Aztecs beat NIU on the road in 2016. This lineup could create a terrific start.

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