Last night I went to the Poinsettia Bowl between San Diego St. and Navy in San Diego which San Diego St. won 35-14. I always go to the Holiday Bowl (I've been to every one since it started in 1978) and thought that this year I'd go to the Poinsettia Bowl too, because I've always liked San Diego St., since my brother went there in their heyday when Don Coryell was head coach. (Incidentally in the mid 60's they might have had the greatest coaching staff in the history of college football with head coach Don Coryell and top assistant coaches John Madden and Joe Gibbs).
Boy, that San Diego St. offense looked terrific and has everything we seem to lack. Their quarterback Ryan Lindley was very accurate and has a great arm. He was 18 of 23 for the game with no interceptions. The only bad pass he threw in the first half was one that he intentionally threw away. They started the game on their own 8 yard line, because of a penalty on the kick off return, and Lindley threw three straight passes for first downs to start the game bringing them to midfield.
The San Diego St. receivers got great separation and were often wide open over the middle. They also had great hands and didn't drop catchable balls. Vincent Brown had 165 yards receiving and is said to be a likely NFL second round pick.Their star freshman running back Ronnie Hillman rushed for 228 yards on 28 carries and looked great. He's got great vision and picks his spots carefully, showed great lateral movement and excellent speed, and never fumbled. In fact San Diego St. had no turnovers in the game and only 3 penalties for 18 yards. Also very noticeable was the excellent protection provided by the offensive line. Navy had no sacks on Lindley who always had enough time to throw and never looked rushed. And they had 276 yards passing and 279 yards rushing. How's that for balance?
I couldn't help asking myself why can't we have an offense like this? They have a superior quarterback who probably wasn't nearly as highly recruited as our two quarterbacks, their receivers look far better than ours, their offensive line puts ours to shame, and they have a great back who holds on to the football. That's just about everything our offense lacks. Sure we played a tougher schedule, but their offense would be good against anyone. They scored 35 at #3 TCU who leads the nation in defense.
I don't have the answer to my question, but I'm still hopeful. I think the biggest factor is an offensive line that can pass protect along with more consistent play at quarterback. If we have significant improvement next year in those two areas along with improved play out of our receivers, I think our offense will be exponentially better than it has been. Hopefully next year we will look somewhat more like San Diego State's offense looked tonight.