It’s another week, and another chance to talk to a buddy from the other side of the field. This week we bring in former Aztec Tight End Hunter Hewitt, a recent Journalism graduate of the school, to discuss his former team.
tBBC: The Aztecs went on a 7-game winning streak to finish the 2012 regular season 9-3 (7-1). What similarities are there between last year’s team and this year?
HH: I think this year’s team, like it’s been for the last 3 or 4 years, the similarities is that there’s always going to be some tough players out there that are never going to give up no matter the circumstances. That’s going to be really important after what happened last week, a really disappointing loss to a division 1AA team.
But, at the end of the day they’re going to forget about it and move on. Any given week they can beat any given team. I feel pretty confident about that. That’s the good thing about these guys and the coaching staff, that they really preach that kind of toughness – both mental and physical – to bounce back in any type of circumstances.
tBBC: How did it feel for you, having left the team just last year, having to watch that game just a couple days ago knowing that you can’t help your team?
HH: It was pretty painful, but to be honest with you it’s something I was kinda used to because I didn’t really play a whole lot in college. But, yea, it was pretty rough to watch.
I thought those days were done, that San Diego State wasn’t the team that lost to Cal Poly, which was another Division 1AA team, back in 2008 – my redshirt year – and also in 2006 that they lost to them. That was two huge losses they were known for, but I thought those days were forever gone. I didn’t think San Diego State would go back to that point where they were losing to 1AA teams. That was really disappointing to watch.
tBBC: RB Adam Muema (1,458 yards, 6.2 YPC, 16 TD’s) by any measure had a very good year last year. Will he be the focal point of this year’s offense?
HH: He should be. What I’m hearing is that he has an ankle sprain, and that kept him limited throughout Saturday’s game. According to what I’m hearing, he’ll practice on Tuesday and should be fine. But, if they limited him last week, I can’t imagine they won’t limit him again this week. It sounds like an injury they’re going to have to monitor at least for the first half of the season.
He’s still a really talented player. Even if he’s not fully healthy the guy can still make some huge plays. He’s got a really good combination of both speed and power, and is probably the strongest player on the team.
I know he really didn’t do much in the last game, but I know he was limited. As far as what his health is like, I have no idea, but if he’s feeling better on Saturday he could definitely be a dangerous player to watch for.
tBBC: Does coming East hurt the team at all? Does having a later start help?
HH: I don’t think any of those factors will bother these guys. One thing about San Diego State is that they’ve been known to travel to games in big venues and play teams pretty tough – for the most part if you look at some games in recent history. Just games like Missouri a few year’s back, Notre Dame a few year’s back – San Diego State has always competed well with big time programs in big games.
Traveling East has never been an issue. We beat Army two years ago on a trip to the East coast. And that was an early start too, so it wasn’t something that didn’t affect them.
I think they’ll be ready to go. I don’t think any of those issues will matter. They’ll want to play well in such a huge venue like they have over at the Horseshoe.
tBBC: In the Aztec’s opening game, they ran 99 plays from scrimmage, 63 pass plays. (I’m out of breath just typing that last sentence). Is SDSU that high paced of a team or was that a one-off against Eastern Illinois?
HH: Not at all, that’s just a one-time thing. I’d say they’re usually running 60 or 70 plays per game, but they got down and had to throw. 63 pass attempts is probably what [QB Adam] Dingwell would average in three games last year. He probaby threw about 20 times per game on average. I was shocked by the number he threw against Eastern Illinois. I think they just got down, they were in panic mode, and were trying to get back in the game.
That’s really not a very accurate number in terms of what they do.
tBBC: SDSU put up decent numbers last Saturday, even though they came up on the short end of the scoreboard. With the number of times they threw the ball, though, it was surprising to see no passing touchdowns. How do you see the Aztecs making changes this week to limit the turnovers and attempt more aerial scoring?
HH: What I’m hearing is that they’re just going to try to simply some things. I hear Coach Rocky Long said he gave his players, both on offense and defense, a little too much freedom. He gave them the ability to make changes on the fly, and audibles on the spot. I’m hearing that they’re trying to simply things, which should help.
It’s still a young team that maybe shouldn’t be given the ability and the freedom to change plays like that. Maybe simplifying things will help them focus on what they’re coached to do instead of worrying about making pre-snap reads and changing things up on the fly.
tBBC: While Ohio State has moved to a “spread” philosophy, it’s obvious that they still want to be a “down-hill” running team. Who on the Aztecs’ defensive front seven is someone poised for a big game in this matchup?
HH: All of the linebackers are guys that are playmakers. I’m hearing that they’re missing one of their key linebackers, Derek Largent, so he’ll be out. Probably the best linebacker to keep an eye out for is Jake Fely, but I think he also had a bit of an injury in the first game. I’m not sure if it’s something that will keep him out again. Jake Fely (#42), Nick Tenhauff (#36), and Vaness Harris (#37) are three guys that can all make plays.
tBBC: Many Ohioans have great memories of SDSU’s QB Coach, Brian Sipe. Any interesting anecdotes from his time with the Aztecs that folks might be interested in knowing?
HH: I knew Sipe pretty well, and I wrote a story on him. Despite that, there’s nothing I can think of on the spot. I was always a big fan of him, and he was always really helpful for a lot of different guys – not always just the Quarterbacks. But it was always cool to hear some of the stories from his days over in Cleveland – he was a big time player over there and really rejuvinated that program – the Cardiac Kids and all that. I do know that he was in the Little League World Series when he was a kid, and his team won it. It was a pretty cool experience for him, and he always used to talk about it.
tBBC: Conversely, got any Brady Hoke stories that we might enjoy?
HH: I’ll tell you one thing that was pretty funny. Even when he was at San Diego State – where one of our colors is red – he would never wear red, knowing that it was the color of you guys. He would always just wear black. Some of his shirt’s had a little red on them, but he would never wear all red shirts.
tBBC: Give me your prediction for the game.
HH: I’m going to say, knowing San Diego State and how this program has been – being all over the map sometimes winning games they shouldn’t, sometimes losing games they shouldn’t – they’re going to come in and shock the world. They’re going to beat Ohio State 27-24. I think they’re going to come up and rise to the occasion.
Also, I could never allow myself to not predict my team to win.
Can’t fault you for that Hunter. Thanks for joining us!