SDSU Aztecs welcome the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks to Qualcomn Stadium for the season opener. The Aztecs have 18 returning seniors and will look to build off of last season’s bowl win.
Quinn Kaehler returns at quarterback and has improved in the offseason. He had 19 touchdowns and 9 interceptions from 3,007 yards passing. Look for him to repeat those numbers and possibly improve.
Kaehler has the ability to have great success with the guys around him. Donnel Pumphrey will get most of the carries and if he can run strong then it sets up a lot out of the backfield. Pumphrey is a small, fast back so watch for him to catch balls out of the backfield.
Ezell Ruffin is the number 1 receiving target. He will build off of 1,136 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. Look for guys to pop up in the unit that surprise us. At this point, it could be anyone who becomes the next target whether it’s a receiver or tight end.
The Aztecs are known for their 3-3-5 defense and the enigma that it is. The linebackers have been a big part of the success in the defense and they are not healthy at the start of this season. Jake Fely is coming off of neck surgery and he has been a leader in that group.
The Aztecs will move to a 4-2-5 defense until the linebackers are healthier. I expect their secondary to play well but their run defense could improve as they stack the box. Keep an eye on how that defensive unit is affected by the different system.
I expect the Aztecs to win this game by a score of 24-10. Their defense is going to shut down a small Northern Arizona school and Kaehler will show us all why he’s a starter. I expect 2 touchdowns for Pumphrey. The game is Saturday, August 30 at 4 pm Pacific.