In high school, Kyahva Tezino was a force.
As a senior at Salesian High School in Los Angeles, California, Tezino played both sides of the ball, and played them well. As a running back, he rushed for 513 yard on 51 carries, an average of a little over ten yards a carry, and six touchdowns. On defense is where Tezino stood out. He led the team in tackles with 112 (99 solo), which he had done his three years on varsity, and finished his career with some eye-popping numbers. This all led to Tezino being a four-star prospect by all the recruiting services.
He was offered by a number of big name schools; Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Miami (Fla.), UCLA, Utah, Washington, Washington State, and Wisconsin, to name a few. Eventually, he seemed destined to play in the PAC-12 as he committed to Washington State. In December of his senior year he decommitted from the Cougars and two months later he was an Aztec.
Tezino was always meant to play in the big games, however his Aztec career got off to a slow start. He redshirted his freshman season and was part of the scout team, where he won the team’s defensive scout player of the year. As a redshirt freshman, he played in 11 games, mostly on special teams. Then as a sophomore, he played in eleven games, however he started the last five and exploded onto the scene. He ended the season with two double-digit tackle games, including 17 against Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.
So now Tezino goes from a player who did not record a stat against Stanford last season to the starting middle linebacker who will be tasked with stopping Heisman favorite, Stanford running back Bryce Love.
Love is a north and south type runner who identifies and hits the hole quickly and decisively. Last year in the Aztec win, Love torched the San Diego State defense for 184 yards on 13 carries. This year Tezino and company are charged with stopping Love and forcing the Cardinal into some uncomfortable situations.
One of the big battles will be in the trenches. Last year, a young line held their own against the Cardinal and helped the Aztecs squeeze out a victory at home. Now as they head on the road for the first game of the season, the line is tested and ready for the challenge. The entire starting unit returns for this season a year older, wiser, and stronger. How they hold up against the Stanford line will be key for the running game.
Getting the passing game going will also be important for the Aztecs. Senior quarterback Christian Chapman has often been referred to as a game manager, however he has been solid and does not give up the ball often. Stanford will likely be keying in on the run and stopping Juwan Washington. Chapman and his receivers need to move the ball through the air to keep the Cardinal defense honest. Tight ends Parker Houston and Kahale Warring will be two big time targets for Chapman and could have a huge role in the game.
Finally, the Aztecs need to convert touchdowns when the opportunity arises, not settle for field goals. The Aztec defense will have its hands full with Love and Stanford’s offense, therefore the San Diego State offense needs to do their part. They need to get sevens on the board each chance they get and force Stanford to play from behind. This will force the ball into the air, which could be good for an Aztec secondary that is getting better each time out.
San Diego State is not sneaking up on Stanford this year. The Cardinal surely have revenge on their mind and will be ready for this game. Going on the road will be tough, however the Aztecs have experience and talent up and down the roster to get the win. Saturday the whistle will blow and San Diego State football will be back. The Aztecs can make a statement with a victory over a ranked Stanford team.