San Diego State’s coaching staff has met with the media this week to preview the Arizona matchup and SDSU head coach Brady Hoke spoke highly of the Wildcats.
“The second half they really played well against BYU,” Hoke said. “I think they are a very physical team. I think they have 14 new guys who are playing for them. I know Coach Fisch coached with my brother at Florida one time, so they are going to be offensive minded to some degree.
“With Don Brown defensively, they are going to be a team that likes to pressure. As far as that goes, it is going to be a great environment. First home game with a new coaching staff and they have a lot of juice going right now. It will be fun and we look forward to it. We have to clean a lot up and get back to coaching and teaching on our expectations.”
Even though Gunner Cruz got the majority of snaps at quarterback, the Aztecs are preparing for two signal callers.
“I think he will use two because they’re different,” Hoke said. “Not a huge difference, but they are different. I think Cruz has the arm strength and accuracy and all those things. You’ve had spring film where you’re not sure who is in at quarterback or not from the spring game that was on TV and then you have the outing against BYU.
“It’s a little tough to decide what you’re going to see because if you watch the spring film it is more like the Los Angeles Rams than when you watch the BYU game. Defensively, the staff is working really hard to decipher what we think we’re going to get.
“It is a different offense than last week. This is more like the Los Angeles Rams. He coached there and there is that McVay stamp kind of. It’s a different offense. I thought New Mexico State got the ball off quickly out of the quarterback’s hands and I think we will see that some more, but not as much in this ball game.”
When SDSU defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix watches film on Arizona, the NFL influence on the Wildcats is apparent right away.
“I think the first thing watching them is their pro personality,” Mattix said. “Coach Fisch spent so much time in the NFL as well as college and stuff like that, but we’ve heard through the grapevine for a while now that they are very similar to the Rams and taking some of the stuff the Rams do.
“We’ve studied them and looked at them a little bit. You watched their spring game and it mirrored what the Rams are doing. Formation wise they are going to do a lot of different shifts, trades, tight sets, and snug sets and do a lot of the stuff the Rams do as far as jet sweeps and trying to get you to have a lot of smoke and mirrors and then hit you north and south with some deep shots.
“The speed of the game, their receivers are pretty fast comparable to other teams that we’ve seen. We have a graduate assistant on our staff, Coach Cormier, who spent time on Arizona’s staff, so he has done a great job of helping us with personnel. Tayvian Cunningham is a 10.4, so that’s blazing fast. They are going to be a two tight end formation team, so that is a little bit of what we see every day with our offense.”
Cruz has only started one game in his career, but Mattix saw an efficient quarterback.
“I think they have done a great job of delivering the ball where it needs to be as far as their progressions,” he said. “Their running backs caught 12 balls between them, so there’s check down capability. He does a good job of reading coverages and gets the ball to their athletes in open space and allows them to do those things. They didn’t seem to be a big check with me team or a multiple audible, look to the sideline team.
“I don’t know what they are putting on him, but he was able to move the ball at times in different situations and keep moving the ball systematically. Whether they are empty in one set to Pro I in another, there are going to be a lot of different formations and a lot of different things you are going to have to defend and be ready for.”