San Diego State secured their 12th consecutive year of success with a win in New Mexico.
The Aztecs (7-4, 5-2 MW), who end the regular season against the visiting Air Force on Saturday night, have now won five of their last six games.
Here are three thoughts on SDSU’s 34-10 Mountain West win over New Mexico late Friday night at University Stadium.
1. Scholarship for Shaw?
When he presented walk-on kicker Jack Browning with a scholarship in September, SDSU head coach Brady Hoke never told anyone on the staff beforehand.
Hoke just told SDSU director of player staff Craig Smith to make sure he had his cell phone with him after practice so he could get video of Browning’s – and his teammates’ – reaction when the scholarship announcement was made.
Smith is to bring his cell phone back to the field. It’s time for another video.
Second wide receiver Mekhi Shaw has emerged as a playmaker for SDSU, highlighted by a career night against New Mexico with six receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Shaw is now third on the team in receptions (28) and yards received (343) and tied with the team’s lead in receiving touchdowns (3).
Handsome Shaw is a 5-foot-10 walker from Scripps Ranch High who has a knack for opening up. It led to 51- and 30-yard TDs against the Lobos.
Shaw was redshirted in 2020 while working with the cornerbacks. He found his way to wide receiver in the spring of 2021 and totaled four receptions for the season.
Shaw is now averaging nearly as many catches per game.
Hoke was asked during the week if any young Walk-Ons were close to receiving scholarships.
“Possibly,” he said. “I’ll let you know, believe me.
“I won’t tell you who, but if it happens I’ll tell them first.”
Shaw should be the first to know.
2. Get defensive
SDSU’s defense had a midseason stretch where they knocked out three straight opponents in the first half and came within 48 seconds after four straight games barring a Nevada touchdown.
Finishing games strong was the theme back then.
The Aztecs needed last-minute comebacks for victories over Toledo and Hawaii earlier this season and let the game get away with Fresno State in the final two minutes.
The defense has been a lot stronger in the last four games at the track. That’s partly down to the opponents, although the Aztecs have seemed a lot more relentless lately.
They’ve had second-half shutouts in two of their last four games — against Nevada and New Mexico.
Particularly impressive against the Lobos were adjustments to the running game shutdown, which took effect early and then disappeared.
The Lobos finished with 26 carries for 97 rushing yards. They weren’t much better at throwing the ball, with redshirt freshman quarterback CJ Montes completing 15 of 23 passes for 112 yards.
Almost all of the yardage came in the first half. New Mexico rushed for 183 yards in the first half and just 26 yards after the break.
The biggest problem? Third below.
New Mexico was 0-to-10 in third-down conversions, marking the first time SDSU prevented an FBS opponent from converting a third-down since a 2015 game against Fresno State.
Standout individual players included safeties Patrick McMorris (team high-nine tackles) and Cedarious Barfield (career high-eight tackles) and cornerback Dallas Branch (third interception in three games).
3. Frustrated viewers
When you tuned the TV to Fox Sports 1 for the SDSU-New Mexico kickoff and found the Villanova-Michigan State basketball game instead, you…
A) Wait patiently for the basketball game to end.
B) Throwing a shoe or the remote control at the TV.
C) Kick the dog.
D) Get out your smartphone or laptop, go to goaztecs.com, click football schedule, click Fox Sports go link, you will be taken to foxsports.com/live, fight the confusion, while waiting for a link to the soccer game, watch the game five minutes before kick-off, and then watch the streamed broadcast until the game is televised.
For those who chose A, congratulations, patience is a virtue. Although it also meant missing the first 8½ minutes of the first quarter, which included SDSU’s first touchdown.
For those who chose B, we hope the shoe/remote missed its mark and you’re not going to the store to buy a new TV.
For those who chose C, how dare you!
Those who chose D must be applauded for their tenacity, technical understanding and hoop jumping, although there were a few who got there and received an error message.
There was more than a little grumbling among the Aztec believers about a situation that occurs all too often.
“It seems years since I’ve watched an Aztec away game on a sports channel from the start,” one SDSU fan wrote via email. “It seems that these broadcast channels always allocate the minimum possible time for a game and exceed that allotment as often as possible.
“Am I imagining it, or is it true that this situation rarely occurs in televised games involving Alabama, Ohio State or other ‘top dollar’ teams?
“I guess I can’t help but wonder why these venues can’t allocate longer time slots to accommodate typical overruns. If a game should end in a very short time, they could always step in with their talking “experts”. ”
Makes too much sense.