Last season, the San Diego State Aztecs topped the Arizona State Sun Devils 30-20 in Tempe. We caught up with Christian Pedersen of our brother site Mountain West Connection to get to know Rocky Long’s team better.
BV: San Diego State has been a very good team at home the last few years, including wins over PAC-12 foes Stanford and Cal. Why do you think teams have so much trouble traveling to the Aztecs?
CP: I think that SDSU is a physical team more than anything else, running the ball on offense and gang tackling on defense. So when team play at San Diego they get a well rested and fired up Aztec squad that can potentially present a string challenge at the line of scrimmage.
BV: Last season, in SDSU’s win over the Sun Devils, running back Rashaad Penny had over 200 rushing yards and a kick return touchdown. Penny is now a part of the Seattle Seahawks, which now puts Juwan Washington as the starter. Could you compare Washington and Penny’s styles of running and what the Sun Devils could expect on Saturday from Washington?
Penny was a slightly better back in terms of pass catching but Washington presents more or less the threat from the backfield, lots of one step power moves.
BV: Starting quarterback Christian Chapman will miss this game due to injury, letting Ryan Agnew make his first career start. Chapman only complete nine passes for 73 yards in last year’s win over ASU, so will Agnew being in make a huge difference for SDSU?
I think Agnew represents significant improvement and change but highly doubt that the coaching staff will cut him loose during the game unless things get bad fast and the Aztecs need to score fast.
BV: Arizona State now has defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales, who was the Aztecs’ a year ago. Will San Diego State do some overthinking in their game plan because Gonzales knows them so well or will that be an advantage toward SDSU in knowing how to play against the 3-3-5 defense?
The SDSU offensive line has some Liam Neeson “specific kind of skill” level dudes on the on the offensive line when it comes to run blocking so I don’t think that there are many defensive schemes out there that would change the general approach this offense has to the game. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if they will try some ill fated exotic looks to try and throw off Gonzales but quickly abandon them.
BV: Through two games the Sun Devils run defense looks a lot better than where it was last season, but do you believe the Aztecs can finally find some holes against them with their lethal running game?
I think they will be able to run the ball well in consistent, middle sized chunks but probably wont have too many explosive long runs.
BV: Score Prediction and why?
24 - 21 ASU. I think that ASU improved from last year and SDSU has remained at the same level so I fear that the Aztecs will come out slow and never make it up