Aztec Update / Steve Dolan : An Uplifting Experience : After Five Straight Losses, Players Excited Over Victory
For a change, heart-to-heart talks were not on the Sunday agenda around San Diego State’s football facility.
For the first time in six weeks, the Aztecs were discussing a win instead of trying to figure out why they had lost. Their five-game losing streak had become history Saturday night when they beat Texas El Paso, 34-6.
OK, so it was only UTEP, a team which has lost 112 of its last 127 games. But when you have lost five straight, any victory is uplifting.
The players had gone through a week of practice before the UTEP game with more questions than answers. Among them: Whether or not Coach Doug Scovil and his staff would be fired.
Scovil’s ability to motivate players had been questioned. Jeff Cotton, a former Aztec player, said Scovil was a good offensive coordinator but could not get his team fired up for a game.
After Saturday’s win, some Aztec players backed Scovil.
“I feel he does the job,” linebacker Todd Richards said. “It’s just not his personality to speak out. I have to give him credit for what he does.”
Linebacker Steve Svitenko: “The coaches aren’t the reason we are losing. It has been something intangible. We’re just going to push on.”
The Aztec rushing attack pushed UTEP all over the field. SDSU had 324 yards in 38 rushing attempts, its second 300-yard game of the season. Before this year, the Aztecs had not rushed for more than 300 yards in a game since 1979.
Chris Hardy rushed for 223 yards against UTEP, tying an Aztec record with his second 200-yard game of the season. Deacon Turner had two 200-yard games in 1976.
Though SDSU is known for its passing, the Aztecs have averaged 158.2 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Quarterback sacks count as rushing attempts in college football, meaning the Aztecs have averaged more than five yards per attempt on designed running plays.
“Our passing attack is always there,” Hardy said. “We knew that the key would be getting our running game together.”
Perhaps the most significant statistic Saturday was that SDSU did not have a turnover. The Aztecs had committed 19 turnovers in their previous three games.
“We didn’t beat ourselves this time,” Scovil said. “You can’t coach turnovers. If you emphasize fumbles too much, it becomes a phobia. I remember when I was with the San Francisco 49ers, we went through six games with a lot of turnovers. All of a sudden it stopped, and we were fine.”
SDSU has committed 32 turnovers in 10 games, 20 more than the opposition.
Offensively, the Aztecs are doing well. Consider:
--SDSU is seventh in the nation in passing offense (288.4), eighth in total offense (446.6) and 19th in scoring (27.7).
--Chris O’Brien has made 25 career field goals, tying the school record set by Steve LaPlant in 1975 and 1976. O’Brien has kicked 14 field goals this year, one shy of tying the school single-season record of Steve Duncan in 1978. O’Brien has made 22 consecutive field goal attempts, a Western Athletic Conference record.
--Webster Slaughter is fourth nationally in receptions, averaging 6.6 per game. He has 106 career receptions, seventh best in school history.
--Vince Warren has 1,986 career receiving yards, fifth on SDSU’s all-time list.
--Todd Santos is 13th nationally in passing efficiency. Santos, a sophomore, is seventh on the SDSU career passing list with 4,426 yards.