“Snap the ball!!!”
The announcers were repeating it, I was screaming it, and likely a score of Aztecs fans was chanting it along with me.
An Arizona State defensive player had jumped across the line of scrimmage trying to get a jump on the field goal attempt, but San Diego State kicker John Baron calmly stood there, focused on a 54-yard kick in the third quarter with the Aztecs and Sun Devils knotted at 14. Once the play had been run the Aztecs were up 17-14 and Baron’s kick had sailed through the uprights with ten yards to spare.
This play exemplifies Baron’s cool demeanor and self-confidence. Instead of quick snapping the ball and getting another five-yards closer, Baron remained focused and nailed the field goal that he knew was in his range. Baron has been as steady as they come. Not only has he been accurate this season, but he has been reliable throughout his career. This season he is a perfect five for five on field goals, with a long of 54 yards, and for his career, he has made 88% of his field goals. On top of that Baron has 10 touchbacks on 16 tries.
Lord Baron, as he is affectionately referred to, has become on a fan favorite due to his personality and engagement on social media as well as his consistency on the field during games. He is one of, if not the best kicker in the nation and the National Football League appears to be in his future.
The Aztecs played a tough game last week and beat Arizona State once again. This week they face off against an Eastern Michigan squad that beat a tough Purdue team in week two. Coach Rocky Long called Eastern Michigan “a better team than Arizona State,” but did clarify that the Sun Devils are more talented.
Ryan Agnew was serviceable in last week’s game after throwing for 129 yards, mostly all in the first half on 12-24 passing and one touchdown in the win over the Sun Devils. The stats are low, however, he did not have to throw much in the second half as the Aztecs were able to run the ball with ease on Arizona State. This week Agnew has an opportunity to play a similar role as Eastern Michigan allows 219 yards in the air, which is good for 75th best in the nation.
A big reason why the Aztecs were able to win the game last week was the dominance of the offensive line. In the second half everyone knew that San Diego State was going to run the ball, however, the Sun Devils could do nothing to stop it. After coming in allowing 1.1 yards per carry, the Aztecs came in and racked up 311 yards and 5.4 yards per attempt. Ryan Pope and company will get a lot of publicity for the big blocks they laid all night, especially on the Juwan Washington touchdown run, but what is a bit under the radar is the fact that they only allowed one sack and two quarterback hurries. They will need to continue their dominance against an Eagles defense that only has four sacks in three games.
Washington is hopeful to return this week after sustaining a toe injury in the second half against Arizona State. Currently, Washington is fourth in the nation in rushing and he has to be chomping at the bits at the prospect of playing an Eastern Washington team that allows 5.9 yards per carry, and 230 yards per game. Chase Jasmin, who ran for 119 yards last game, should see some action as well as I expect the Aztecs to run often against the Eagles.
Eastern Michigan likes to throw the ball around and is 13th in the nation with 332 yards per game. The San Diego State secondary did an excellent job in the second half shutting down the Arizona State passing attack and a performance like the one last week will be necessary to get some stops. Cornerbacks Ron Smith and Kyree Woods really stepped up last week and they will need to do so again against the Eastern Michigan air attack.
San Diego State’s defensive front did an excellent job at getting to Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins. This week I expect the Aztec defense to continue the pressure against an Eastern Michigan line that allows four sacks per game. Kyahva Tezino led the way in tackles again last week. He and the rest of the defense have an opportunity to feast on what should be an overmatched offensive line. Add to that the fact that the run game for the Eagles only gets 3.4 yards per carry and the defense should be able to neutralize the Eastern Michigan offense.
If you believe that winning a game starts in the trenches then you clearly expect the Aztecs to get the “W.” The offensive and defensive lines both favor the Aztecs, with which secondary shows up being the only questions mark. By no means do I think this game will be easy, but should the Aztecs play their game then they should come away with a victory.