Five things to know about San Diego State football as Boise State visits on Saturday

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

SAN DIEGO STATE Q&A

I answered five questions about Boise State for San Diego State beat writer Stefanie Loh this week and she returned the favor about the Aztecs. Here are the questions and answers:

1. What is it about this Aztecs team that every game — no matter how big the lead or deficit — seems to come down to the last minute?

Loh: Glass half empty or half full? On one hand, this team’s most infuriating quality is that it seems to start slow and has been streaky all year. On the other hand, you have to give them credit for somehow always keeping the faith and managing to hold on to squeeze out a win. I think that phenomenon has also built on itself. The more SDSU has managed to come through at the end, the more it believes it can do it. No one panics whenever they glance up at the scoreboard and see they are behind. DE Cody Galea said last week (in reference to the previous come-from-behind win at San Jose State) that at this point, they just have this innate belief that at some point in the game, something will click into place and they’ll go into overdrive and play like a team possessed.

2. What has Quinn Kaehler done well to get this team turned around?

Loh: Quinn Kaehler’s strength lies in his ability to read defenses and go through his progressions. The offensive staff gushes about his intelligence and the cerebral qualities he brings to the position. He doesn’t lock into specific receivers, and instead, he just takes what the defense gives him, and is generally adept at finding the open man. The biggest knock against him is his arm strength, but he’s managed just fine in most games this year. It helps that OC Bob Toledo’s West Coast offense doesn’t live or die on deep throws. As Toledo likes to say, Kaehler is a smart, efficient quarterback who can complete high percentage passes, and that’s all they’ve asked of him.

3. What part of Rocky Long’s defense gives opponents the most trouble.

Loh: I think the most perplexing thing about Rocky Long’s defense — from the opponent’s standpoint — is how much flexibility it gives the Aztecs. With so many moving parts, they can disguise the blitz in a myriad of different ways and that can be confusing for quarterbacks who are unfamiliar with the 3-3-5. He reads things one way thinking the OLB is coming for him, and next thing you know, the safety is in his face and he’s on the ground.

4. What kind of atmosphere do you expect at Qualcomm on Saturday night?

Loh: Having been in Bronco Stadium, I don’t think the game day environment at the Q quite rivals what you have up there. However, I will say this — people here get up for the Boise State game. For so long, the Broncos were viewed as that unbeatable team that was going to cream anyone in their path. Now, especially after SDSU’s win over Boise State last year, people are really excited by the fact that their Aztecs can compete with Boise. They’re going to pack the Q for this game.

5. What are the keys for San Diego State to pull the upset?

Loh: Boise’s run defense will be a true test for SDSU. The Aztecs need to establish the run early to give themselves a chance. They also need to come out strong right off the bat and play with intensity for four quarters instead of sleepwalking through the first half like they’ve done so many times this year.

NOTES & QUOTES

— Linebackers coach Bob Gregory on San Diego State’s hot streak: “They’re really doing the same kind of things. They’re just doing it better. The quarterback is doing a good job. That’s helping them — less mistakes. They’re just playing better football and improving over the course of the year.”

— Boise State junior middle linebacker Blake Renaud returned from injury last week. Through his recovery, he had his eyes on San Diego State and its power-run game. “This is the one game I knew I wanted to be back and be healthy for,” he said.

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OUR COVERAGE

Monday blog: Southwick practices — and press conference videos
Tuesday story: Weekly Boise State football notes
Tuesday blog: How the MW championship game works
Tuesday blog: Mountain West Football Report
Wednesday story: Walk-on QB sparks San Diego State
Wednesday story: Scouting San Diego State
Wednesday blog: Two rules that irk Petersen
Thursday story: LB Tanner Vallejo’s historic true freshman season

Live chat: You can read a replay of our live chat below.

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GAME NOTES

Boise State game notes
Boise State depth chart
Boise State stats
Mountain West weekly release

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SAN DIEGO STATE COVERAGE

U-T San Diego coverage can be found here.

You can follow beat writer Stefanie Loh on Twitter at @StefanieLoh.

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GAME FACTS

Boise State at San Diego State

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Qualcomm Stadium (54,000, grass), San Diego

TV: CBS Sports Network (Andrew Catalon, Aaron Taylor, Lauren Gardner)

Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender

Records: Boise State is 7-3 overall, 5-1 Mountain West; San Diego State is 6-4, 5-1

Series: Tied 1-1 (last meeting: SDSU 21-19, 2012, in Boise)


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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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