San Diego State Aztecs Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

·9 min read

San Diego State Aztecs Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the San Diego State season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

San Diego State Aztecs Preview
Head Coach: Brady Hoke, 29-18, 5th year at SDSU
16th year overall, 94-78, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 12-2, Conference: 7-1
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
San Diego State Top 10 Players | SDSU Schedule

San Diego State Aztecs Preview 2022

Brady Hoke cranked up one good season at San Diego State in 2010, turned it into the Michigan job in 2011, took back the gig in the America’s Finest City in 2020, and last year it all came together with historic 12-win season.

Most amazing about last year’s success was the season full of road games, playing its “home” dates in front of tens and tens of people in Carson, California.

Now everything is coming together to not only keep it rolling, but to take it up a few notches.

San Diego State might in paradise – good luck finding a better smelling school – and it might be just a few miles away from the beach, but this is one hard-nosed program that lives off a nasty brand of defense and power attack on offense. That’s all going to continue.

This year the team moves to its snazzy new Snapdragon Stadium, there should be a better overall atmosphere for football than the school has had in a long, long time, and it gets the honor of being San Diego’s football team with the Chargers doing whatever it is they do up the road.

Now Hoke has to win a title.

He had a heater of a Ball State team in 2008 – and lost the MAC Championship. He had the best team in the Mountain West last year – and lost the title game after 20 players were out  with COVID.

He’ll be 64 this season, the motivation is there to finally get a conference championship, he gets to coach in the new stadium, and he gets to live in San Diego.

The program is about to have some fun.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
San Diego State Top 10 Players | SDSU Schedule

San Diego State Aztecs Preview 2022: Offense, Defense

San Diego State Aztecs Preview 2022: Offense

The offense does what it does. It’s not an high-powered attack that’s going to come out and hang 50 on the board, but that’s not necessary with the way the team works.

Run well, dominate the clock, don’t turn the ball over, capitalize on every opportunity, let the defense win the game. This year’s O might lose a ton of key parts, but it should be able to do that, and …

There should be more of a passing game. Former Oregon Duck and Virginia Tech Hokies Braxton Burmeister is coming in to run the attack, bringing his excellent running skills and four years of experience to the position.

He’s not the most accurate passer around, but he’ll push the ball deep and should be able to limit the mistakes. The goal is for him to rock, and for promising backup Will Haskell to be ready for the gig in 2023.

The Aztecs have a No. 1 target in senior WR Jesse Matthews, who caught nine of the team’s 16 touchdown throws – he should be an All-Mountain West playmaker.

He’s great, former Mississippi State and Alabama transfer Tyrell Shavers is a 6-6 threat, and Washington transfer Mark Redman and veteran Jay Rudolph should be okay at tight end, even if neither one will bring what Daniel Bellinger did.

Of course …

San Diego State needs to pound away to win. Burmeister will do his part for the ground game, and the backs are in place even with 1,091-yard runner Greg Bell gone. Chance Bell is a solid veteran, Jordan Byrd is a dangerous quick All-Mountain West return man who’ll get the ball more, and there will be a solid rotation.

The offensive line is undergoing a little reworking after losing NFL-caliber guard William Dunkle and left tackle Zachary Thomas, but Alama Uluave might be the Mountain West’s best center and on the way is Cade Bennett from Oklahoma State to step in at guard.

San Diego State Aztecs Preview 2022: Defense

The defense keeps on rocking. It finished last year 12th in the nation overall allowing 324 yards and just under 20 points per game, and the stats would’ve been a whole lot stronger if the team wasn’t whacked by COVID before the Mountain West Championship loss to Utah State.

The nation’s third-best run defense will be phenomenal again starting with …

The linebacking corps is going to be fantastic. Caden McDonald will be one of the best in the conference working in the middle, and brother Cooper McDonald is coming in from Washington to add even more bulk. This group is good, but the D line will be even better.

Main man pass rusher Cameron Thomas is gone, but Jonah Tavai is one of the nation’s best pass rushers inside or out, and his brother Justus Tavai is joining the fun from Hawaii to take over in the interior. Combine those two with All-Mountain West end Keshawn Banks, and look out.

The secondary, as always at SDSU, can hit. Patrick McMorris led the team with 90 tackles and four picks from one safety spot, but the corners need a few playmakers to rise up. There’s enough depth to find the right combination in the 3-3-5.

SDSU 2022 Preview | Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
San Diego State Top 10 Players | SDSU Schedule

San Diego State Aztecs: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

San Diego State Aztecs: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

San Diego State Aztecs: Key To The 2022 Offense

Move … the … chains.

It’s okay that San Diego State doesn’t have a high-powered offense, it’s okay that it all works in a well-defined system. However, everything would be a whole lot smoother if the O could do something on third downs.

The Aztecs converted just 32% of their third down tries making life WAY harder than it had to be.

Yes, they ended up winning anyway, and yes, they were actually great on third downs in the loss to Fresno State. However, being under 30% six times put a whole lot of stress on that D.

San Diego State Aztecs: Key To The 2022 Defense

Keep the pass rush going.

The San Diego State defense is always solid, but it went to another level last year when the pass rush was crushing teams on third downs.

The 2017 defense averaged 1.77 sacks per game. It got better in 2018, got to 2.4 per game in 2019, 2.5 in 2020, and it kept the trend going up with 2.93 sacks per game with the pressure coming from a whole lot of spots.

Do that again – even with Cameron Thomas gone – and it’ll be another huge year.

San Diego State Aztecs: Key Player To The 2022 Season

PK/P Jack Browning, Jr.
Matt Araiza was a decent field goal kicker – he hit 18-of-28 and 50-of-68 for his career – but he was a true weapon as the best punter in college football last season averaging over 51 yards per blast.

For a San Diego State team that lives on a relatively thin margin, field position and field goals are a bigger deal than it is for most.

Browning is a JUCO transfer who’s good at putting the ball when it needs to be, but last year his one big moment came on a fake field goal for a rushing touchdown against Hawaii in the tough 17-10 win.

San Diego State Aztecs: Key Transfer

DT Justus Tavai, Sr.
The actual key transfer is Braxton Burmeister from Virginia Tech, but the Aztecs have quarterbacks who can fit the style and the system. If Tavai does what he’s supposed to do, the defensive front will be a brick wall.

The Hawaii transfer came up with 70 tackles, three sacks, and nine tackles for loss over the last two seasons, and now he’ll be asked to work on the inside so his brother Jonah can see more time as an end. If this works, Justus becomes the anchor of the Mountain West’s best defense.

San Diego State Key Game To The 2022 Season

Boise State, Oct. 1
Muscle flexing time.

The Aztecs showed that they probably were the best team in the Mountain West late last year in a 27-16 win over the Broncos – a week later came the COVID-ruined championship loss to Utah State – and this time around they open up the conference season in Boise.

The date at Fresno State might be bigger, and but this is the one that will show just how strong this year’s SDSU team might be. Win, and the date with the Bulldogs in late October should be for a spot in the conference title game.

San Diego State Aztecs: 2021 Fun Stats

– Rushing Yards Per Game: SDSU 174.9 – Opponents 80.3
– Time of Possession: SDSU 32:05 – Opponents 27:55
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: SDSU 120 – Opponents 59

San Diego State 2022 Preview
Offense, Defense Breakdown
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
San Diego State Top 10 Players | SDSU Schedule

San Diego State Aztecs Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

San Diego State Aztecs Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Nothing stops.

There might be a slew of big-time lost parts from last year, but there’s an upgrade at quarterback, the defensive line is going to be a thing, and the receiving corps might be the best the team has had in a long time.

Throw in the expectations, a shiny new stadium, and an overall system that has proven to work, and demand a double-digit win season for the sixth time in eight years – even if it takes a bowl game to get there.

Set The San Diego State Aztecs Regular Season Win Total At … 9

The Aztecs might have beaten Utah last year, but the road trip will be tough, and so will the dates at Boise State and Fresno State. Everything else has to be a win, including the season/new home opener against Arizona, the trip to Nevada, and the home game against Air Force.

There aren’t divisions anymore in the conference, so split the road games against the Broncos and Bulldogs, take care of everything else, and make it a fourth trip to the Mountain West title game since 2015.

San Diego State 2022 Preview
Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
San Diego State Top 10 Players | SDSU Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams