The Star-Tribune is taking an early look at each of Wyoming’s opponents in the order they appear on the Cowboys’ 2019 schedule. Next up is San Diego State.
LARAMIE — San Diego State has been nothing if not consistent under Rocky Long.
The Aztecs have played in a bowl game nine straight seasons, the second-longest postseason streak among Mountain West teams. Eight of those appearances have come with Long at the helm after the veteran coach was hired to replace Brady Hoke following the 2010 season.
Long, who coached at New Mexico before making the move to southern California, has accumulated a 71-35 record at SDSU. That includes a 3-2 record against Wyoming.
The MW’s unbalanced schedule has the Aztecs back on Wyoming’s slate this fall. The Cowboys will make the trip to San Diego on Oct. 12 for the teams’ first meeting since the 2016 MW championship game when SDSU edged Wyoming for its second and most recent outright league title under Long.
After posting consecutive double-digit win seasons, SDSU did just enough to keep its bowl streak intact last season before a Frisco Bowl loss to Ohio brought the Aztecs’ final record to 7-6. But they have plenty of key pieces back that should once again make them a tough out for their league counterparts.
Start at quarterback, where senior Ryan Agnew is the undisputed starter now that Christian Chapman is out of eligibility. Agnew started seven games in place of the injured Chapman last season and threw for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions. The 6-foot, 200-pounder can also make plays with his legs when things break down, adding 141 yards on the ground.
You have free articles remaining.
The Aztecs also have an experienced option in the backfield in senior Juwan Washington, who averaged 5 yards a carry and finished with 999 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns last season. Junior Chase Jasmin is also back and should pair with Washington to make a formidable 1-2 punch after rushing for 592 yards and five scores.
The duo will be running behind an offensive line that returns three starters, but it’ll be on Agnew and his receiving corps to balance out the offense if SDSU is going to score more than the 20.6 points per game it did a season ago — the fewest in the MW. Senior tight end Parker Houston returns as one of Agnew’s bigger targets at 6-3 and 250 pounds while sophomore Ethan Dedeaux is back on the outside. Yet playmaking wasn’t exactly the group’s strong suit as Dedeaux’s 22 receptions last season were the most among returning receivers.
Regardless of what the Aztecs’ offense looks like this fall, SDSU should be able to once again lean on a defense that was among the league’s best a season ago. SDSU had the MW’s top rush defense and also finished in the top 4 in yards allowed and points allowed.
The linebackers may be the strength of the group. Senior Kyahva Tezino is back in the middle after racking up 127 tackles last season — fourth-most in the MW — while Troy Cassidy returns after starting on the outside a season ago. Junior Andrew Aleki, who played in 12 games last season, is in line to be the other starting outside linebacker.
Parker Baldwin is gone from the secondary after making 103 tackles last season, but the Aztecs return a pair of veteran safeties in Tayler Hawkins and Tariq Thompson, who led the team with eight pass breakups a season ago. Cornerback-turned-safety Kyree Woods and Trenton Thompson also bring back starting experience on the back end.
SDSU will be breaking in three new starters along the defensive line, though ends Connor Mitchell and Keshawn Banks and tackle Myles Cheatum were all part of the rotation up front last season for a defense that allowed just 104 rushing yards per game. If the offense can catch up with the defense, SDSU should easily be back in bowl contention come November.