The state of the San Diego State football team after the Aztecs finished their final scrimmage of the fall Wednesday was clear--they are looking forward to facing some team, any team, other than themselves.
Coach Al Luginbill said the Aztecs are “getting better,” and he liked the fact that the offense had to work dutifully to produce against a hard-hitting defense.
But how many sound judgments can you make based on playing each other? Nickel back Derrick Williams had a good scrimmage, blocking a field goal attempt and an extra point attempt (along with a sack), but Luginbill wasn’t sure whether to criticize the field goal unit or praise Williams. Luginbill started one way, shifted directions and, finally, laughed.
“Next week, I get to root for us,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got to field a field goal team that’s supposed to be secure enough, and I’ve got a field goal block team that’s busting their tail to block it. I’ve got to feel good about the block, but then I feel bad that we’re terrible at protection. So we’ve got to come to some meeting of the minds and get it straightened out. If something happens like that with the defensive kicking game, more than likely you’re in trouble in a football game.”
Running back Tommy Booker was excused from Wednesday’s scrimmage and from a practice next week to take care of some personal matters. Booker was the leading rusher in the Aug. 22 scrimmage, gaining 84 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Kipp Jefferies gained 81 yards on 19 carries Wednesday. Luginbill said he hasn’t made a determination as to how his four leading running backs stack up on the depth chart.
“Kipp is Kipp,” Luginbill said. “He keeps coming at you. You think you’ve got him and he bounces away.”
Jefferies said he was happy with his performance, he still has room to improve and, no, he is not yet thinking about his place on the depth chart.
“I don’t think any of that will be resolved until maybe (next week),” Jefferies said. “Right now, it’s still a tussle.”
T.C. Wright, the transfer from Mesa (Ariz.) Community College who finished spring as No. 1, carried only three times for 12 yards. Luginbill said Wright had a slight shoulder injury.
Curtis Butts, who was doubtful with a hip pointer, carried five times for 66 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run.
Luginbill said he saw continued improvement in the Aztec defense.
“Except for the counter, we did play the run better than last Wednesday,” he said.
Although he said he doesn’t think individuals should catch the coach’s attention on defense--"it should be the entire defense"--he was impressed with linebacker Andy Coviello.
“The guy runs all over the field and makes plays,” Luginbill said. “He’s constantly attacking the offense.”
Coviello (6-feet, 215 pounds) is a transfer from Sacramento City College.
“He has a defensive back’s speed,” Luginbill said. “He’s a collision player and a leaper. He plays the game hard. When the play is done, he’s up and ready to go again.”
Spectators were shaking their heads at the SDSU kickoff and punt teams, figuring new year, same stuff. The Aztec kickoff team gave up three long returns to Keith Williams--30, 33 and 34 yards, and the punt team allowed returns of 35 and 29 yards to Jimmy Raye.
Not to panic, Luginbill said.
As for the kickoff team, the Aztecs have previously returned kicks one way in practice, and the coverage team figured that would continue to be the case Wednesday.
“Now, we returned either way and they had a difficult time with it,” Luginbill said. “They played where they thought the ball was going to go. They thought (the kickoff return team) was going to its left.”
It can be corrected, he said.
The punts were returned against coverage meant to simulate Oregon rather than the actual SDSU coverage team.
“Those punt returns were against our ‘look’ team,” Luginbill said. “They weren’t (No. 1s against No. 1s).”
Quarterback Dan McGwire completed nine of 16 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, of five yards to Jimmy Raye. . . . Patrick Rowe, who caught two passes for 32 yards, was the leading receiver. . . . About an hour into the scrimmage, just as the Aztec punt team was getting ready to kick the ball away, SDSU Coach Al Luginbill interrupted things and called everyone over to the bench for a lecture. Turns out there were just 10 men on the field. “This is a first-class program, and I want it to be known that our guys can count to 11,” he said. “Obviously, we didn’t know at that time how to count to 11. That’s an embarrassment to me and to the team. I take it seriously, and our football team takes it seriously.”
Kicker Andy Trakas made two of three field goal attempts, hitting from 28 and 48 yards. The other one was blocked by nickel back Derrick Williams. Gary Taylor returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. . . . Ron Mims, defensive backs coach, on Williams: “He has really zeroed in and focused a lot better during the last three or four practices.”