San Diego State Preview 2011

Michigan enters this game 3-0, a 9 point favorite, and ranked #21 in the AP poll. The Aztecs are also 3-0 for the first time in 30 years, and come off a 9-4 season that culminated in a Poinsettia Bowl win over Navy, 35-14; it was their first bowl appearance in 12 seasons. The two teams have only met once, and Michigan eaked out a 24-21 win in 2004 after trailing at halftime, and held the lead by limiting San Diego State to two missed field goals in their last four possessions; the Aztecs went on to a 4-7 season and the Wolverines were 9-3, Big Ten Champs and Rose Bowl representatives in the 2004 season. Brady Hoke coached San Diego State from 2009-2010, and the Aztecs will have an advantage in motivation in beating a coach who many believe deserted them. It was unfortunate that when Hoke left in January, he couldn't hold a team meeting to announce his departure since school wasn't in session so he announced his farewell via text.

On Offense, San Diego State is led by Senior Co-Captain and Quarterback Ryan Lindley. Hoke believes he'll be the 3rd quarterback drafted into the NFL in 2012. He is 44 of 82 for 622 yards with 7 TDs and only one interception. His receivers are Sophomores Colin Lockett and Dylan Denso. Bryce Quigley and Alston Umolo are their backups. His Tight End is Sophomore Gavin Escobar. The strength of the offense is their tailback, Sophomore Ronnie Hillman. He was 1st Team Mountain West as a Freshman last year, and ran for over 1500 yards with 18 TDs. This season, he has already run for 497 yards and 8 TDs in 3 games, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and 165.7 yards per game. Junior Walter Kazee is the other running back in their Pro Style Offense. Their offensive line is led by Senior tackles Kurtis Gunther, Tommie Draheim and Senior Left Guard Emilio Rivera. Their Center is Junior Alec Johnson and Right Guard is Junior Nik Embernate. Their offensive line does a great job protecting Lindley, and getting the edge for Hillman. This is a formidable offense and they'll be able to score points on any defense including Michigan's. They are a time of possession offense that makes few mistakes.

On Defense, the Aztecs are led by Linebackers Jake Fely and Co-Captain Miles Burris. Fely is a Redshirt Freshman playing MIKE at 200 lbs., and has 21 tackles, 3.5 for loss including a sack and 2 forced fumbles. Burris is a Senior, and was 1st Team All Confernce in 2010; he has 16 tackles, 3 for loss and 2 sacks so far. The other linebacker is Senior Logan Ketchum. Junior Rob Andrews backs up Fely, and Sophomore Nick Tenhaeff backs up Ketchum. Their defensive line is anchored by Senior Tackle Jerome Long; he has 18 tackles including 3 sacks. Senior Co-Captain J.J. Autele and Sophomore Jordan Thomas are the defensive ends in their unorthodox 3-3-5 scheme. Their cornerbacks are Junior Leon McFadden and Senior Larry Parker, and their safeties called Warriors are Sophomores Gabe Lemon and Nate Behre; their Aztec is Junior Khalid Stevens, and Sophomore Rene Siluano is his backup. Parker has 2 interceptions, 3 pass break ups and McFadden has 5 pass break ups so far. They are quick, flow well to the ball and will be focused on stopping Denard. This unit has forced 9 fumbles in 3 games. We must establish a running game, gain an edge in time of possession to keep their offense off the field and our offensive line must really step up against this unit. They have given up 197 yards per game on the ground so we should be able to run on them.

On Special Teams, Senior Abelardo Perez averages 67.1 yards per kickoff with 4 touchbacks in 20 attempts, and he is only one of three on field goals and 15 of 16 on extra points. Perez was 17 of 23 in 2010, and hit a 53 yarder. Senior Brian Stahovich is averaging 43.2 yards per punt with 7 of his 16 punts downed inside the 20, 6 fair catches and 3 touchbacks. In 2010, Stahovich averaged 45.4 yards on 53 boots including an 89 yarder. Lockett returns kickoffs and has a 94 yard TD return this year. McFadden and Parker returns punts and are averaging 9 yards per return. They have excellent special teams.

The Aztecs certainly have more motivation to win this game than Michigan, and Hoke admits he tried to cancel or move the game once he accepted the Michigan position even though it was his idea to schedule the game when he was the Aztec coach. Rocky Long was Hoke's Defensive Coordinator and the former New Mexico Quarterback also coached the Detroit Wheels in 1974. Anything can happen in a "shoot-out." Expect a wild one!!!

Michigan 37 San Diego State 36