Heading into the first real test for the California Golden Bears, we had a long and intense talk with David Frerker of San Diego Sports Domination about the San Diego State Aztecs.
Who's one player on offense whom Cal fans should know about?
Of course the answer is Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey ran for over 1,800 yards last season breaking the single season rushing record for San Diego State. That says a lot considering our get history with running backs (Adam Muema, Ronnie Hillman, Marshall Faulk). He has been linked to some under the radar Heisman candidate lists for this season. Of course the only way he would win is if SDSU finished the year undefeated and managed to win the Mountain West Conference Championship.
Who's one player on defense whom Cal fans should know about?
I am actually going to give you two players on defense that Cal Fans should know about. Linebacker Calvin Munson and defensive back Damontae Kazee. Those two players combined for five interceptions against USD. The San Diego State secondary is the best in the Mountain West. Kazee had three of the five interceptions. All of those interceptions were amazing acrobatic catches. Munson had two interceptions and returned both for touchdowns. He was named the Mountain West Conference Defensive player of the week for his 11 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery.
Who's one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for SDSU?
Backup running back and kick returner Rashaad Penny. The San Diego State kick return team has provided some major touchdowns over the past few years which have helped win some big games. Penny had one kick return against USD and took it 97 yards for the score.
What does SDSU need to do to win the game?
The San Diego State offensive line must work together and have success. They are still very shaky in pass protection. Depending on how well the offensive line plays we might see San Diego State use two quarterbacks. The starting quarterback is Kentucky transfer Maxwell Smith and the backup is Freshman Christian Chapman. Chapman is the Aztecs QB of the future and can scramble if need be. The Aztecs need to put points on the board if they want to win. They only managed one offensive score last weekend against USD.
Running backs Chase Price and Pumphrey combined for 137 rushing yards against USD; was that in line with expected production?
That was way below the expected production for Pumphrey. Pumphrey is expected to be at 138 yards per game. Price is expected to be at about 80 to 90 yards per game. The offensive did not look good or in season form during the USD game.
Rocky Long is 32–20 in his four seasons at SDSU. How does the fanbase feel about him (especially vs. Brady Hoke)?
The San Diego State fanbase loves Rocky Long. He is the most winning coach in Mountain West Conference history. Some of the fans want him to win bigger games. San Diego State has gone to five straight bowl games (four under Coach Long). The San Diego State fans felt disrespected by how Hoke came and left. They did not like the "stepping stone" on which he used San Diego State.
SDSU was picked to win the West division of the Mountain West. What do you think of that prediction?
That prediction is accurate. The Aztecs have the best defense in the Mountain West. Combine that with the best running back in the entire conference you see why people are so high on San Diego State. The San Diego State Offensive is also supposed to average 30–50 points this year which would make them the best offense in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference.
Did your outlook for the season or assessment of the team change after the very comfortable 37–3 win over USD? Why or why not?
Yes. San Diego State should have had double the amount of points. The offense was absolutely horrible. You can ask any fan of SDSU and they will tell you that was one of the most boring games offensively that they have ever seen. That game really meant nothing to the team as it does not count towards bowl game eligibility. That could have contributed to their level of play.
How do you see this game going?
I see a very good football game. I think the Aztec defense will give Cal trouble and visa versa. I believe the team who wins this game will be the team who is leading in time of possession. I expect this game to be won on the ground. San Diego State has one of the best running backs in the game. I expect him and the team to be on point. San Diego State will always play to the caliber of the opponent in which it plays. I think San Diego State will edge Cal in a low-scoring slugfest.
Whom do you want to punch in the face?
San Diego State wants to punch Cal in the face. For a long time many people have believed that San Diego State is not a good enough team to play in the Pac 12 conference. When you look at San Diego as a whole for football, it is one of the hottest recruiting areas in the nation. San Diego State wants to win this game to prove that it belongs among the best on the west coast. It has proven that in almost every single Division 1 sport but football.
Thanks to David for taking the time to answer all of our questions. Visit San Diego Sports Domination for all your San Diego sports needs and follow them on Twitter at @SanDiego_Sports and @DavidFrerker.
And if you're going to the game on Saturday, don't forget to wear your finest gold gear because it's gonna be a Gold Out! (Hopefully.)