With that tweet, senior defensive lineman Noble Hall signaled that he was once again healthy to face off against Boise State, which surely brought a sigh of relief to Aztec Nation. A two-time preseason second-team all-Mountain West selection, Hall has been a big part of the Aztecs defensive success. A major part in the Aztec’s stout run defense, Hall has also been a menace in the passing game; recording many memorable stops as teams had tried airing the ball out.
Getting Hall back this week will be important as the Aztecs face one of, if not the, most prolific offenses in the Mountain West. Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien has thrown 12 touchdowns this season without being intercepted once. Rypien ranks 13th in the nation in passing yards and is obviously careful with the ball, however, their line can be beaten as they have allowed 10 sacks in four games. Hall’s contribution will not likely be counted on the stat sheet, but his impact will be felt on the field.
Stopping Rypien is going to be huge as the Aztecs secondary has been the weakest link on the team. Cornerbacks Ron Smith and Kyree Woods need to be on their game and if either does not step up to the task Darren Hall should likely see time. The job of stopping Rypien does not fall completely on the secondary; it will be a team effort. San Diego State’s defensive front needs to establish pressure on Rypien and force turnovers early.
The Bronco’s offense gets all the attention, and for good reason, but their defense is pretty good as well. Boise State’s total defense is 14th overall in the nation, which is actually better than the Aztecs. Both their run and pass defense are pretty even, ranking 42nd and 40th in the nation respectively.
Chase Jasmin will be the key to the Aztecs offense as he tries to build on his appearances as a backup this season. Making the first start of his career, Jasmin comes in with a 5.4 yards-per-carry average, and 233 yards with a touchdown. The Broncos defense allows 125 rushing yards per game, ranking as the second most difficult run defense the Aztecs have faced this year. There is hope, however, as the Aztecs ran for over 300 yards against the best run defense they played in Arizona State. One thing to note will be that fullback Isaac Lessard is out with a neck injury, therefore Chad Woolsey will be leading the way for Jasmin.
Christian Chapman has been making steps towards a return for the Aztecs although he will not be available this week. Ryan Agnew will be starting once again for San Diego State. Agnew has three touchdowns and three interceptions and he will need to protect the ball while not allowing the Broncos to get good field position. Keeping the Boise State offense off the field will be important, so controlling the pace of the game and extending drives will be key for the Aztecs.
Ethan Dedeaux has been the team’s best receiver this season, but a go-to receiver has not yet emerged. Hopefully one emerges at some point, but until then, Agnew and the Aztecs will need a team effort to move the ball through the air.
This game in itself will be a tough test for the Aztecs. I believe in the Aztec’s run game and they have a chance to beat the Broncos on the blue turf. San Diego State will not be afraid, but they need to put points on the board early and get the Boise State fans out of the game early. Should the Aztecs control the pace-of-play they might be able to pull off the upset.