Fresno State is coming off another tough loss at the hands of Western Athletic Conference rival San Jose State. Now, the ‘Dogs have one more chance to get a win against Mountain West Conference member San Diego State. This game will have bigger implications than usual with the Oil Can Trophy on the line. This will be a key game for the ‘Dogs to gain some momentum going into the offseason.
Antonio Morales is the sports editor at San Diego State and The Collegian editor Jerry Huerta caught up with him to talk about what the ‘Dogs can expect from the Aztecs in a battle between old rivals.
Q: What are some thoughts on running back Ronnie Hillman?
A: He’s an electrifying playmaker, a home run hitter and now that he’s added some weight, he can carry the ball more. He’s the best player on the San Diego State football team and probably the best running back in the Mountain West Conference.
Q: What has quarterback Ryan Lindley meant to the program this season?
A: I don’t think it’s this season, but more like all five years he’s been here. When he got here the team was terrible and now he’s on the verge of leading the team to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in [what seems like] forever. He lost his top-flight receivers from a season ago, so his numbers have dipped this season, but he’s still the leader of the team.
Q: Who is the leader of the defense?
A: Linebacker Miles Burris is the heart and soul of the Aztec defense. He has 17 tackles for loss and six sacks this season.
Q: What can Fresno State expect from San Diego State’s defense?
A: A lot of blitzes and opportunities to crack some big plays, which the Aztec defense seems prone to give up.
Q: Which players are difference makers in the secondary, linebacking corps and defensive line?
A: Defensive back Larry Parker has six interceptions this year, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery this season. He has been a difference maker in the secondary. Burris is a difference maker in the linebacking corps and senior Jerome Long is the leader on the defensive line.
Q: How has head coach Rocky Long impacted this program in his first year as the face of Aztec football?
A: He’s kept the program stable so far and has the same exact record as Brady Hoke through 11 games. His impact will be known next season when the team loses Lindley, some offensive lineman and Burris.
Q: What will it take for San Diego State to beat Fresno State on Saturday?
A: A fast start and solid run defense. The team has gotten off to a slow start almost every game and sometimes it has come back to hurt them. The Aztecs will need solid run defense because if the defense can’t stop the run, Robbie Rouse could have a field day.
Q: What does it mean for the San Diego State to play against Fresno State for the first time in a while and to renew rivalry with the ‘Dogs going to the Mountain West Conference next year?
A: You may have already heard, but this game has been dubbed the “Battle For The Oil Can,” which is pretty interesting. The players didn’t know much about the rivalry, it’s been a while since the two teams played, but I think the team is excited to have a natural rival now.