Defense takes control

Nat Berhe with an interception against Air Force

It has been for the majority of the season that the San Diego State offense has outperformed the Aztecs defense. Not anymore...

It has been for the majority of the season that the San Diego State (8-3,6-1 MW) offense has outperformed the Aztecs defense.

Not anymore.

SDSU only allowed 9 points to Air Force (5-5, 4-2) in a 28-9 victory on Saturday afternoon.

"Obviously we gave up a bunch of yardage on defense, but the defense came up with some key stops on 3rd and 4th downs and came up with some big-time turnovers..." SDSU head coach Rocky Long said, "...and when we got some turnovers our offense did a real nice job of sticking them in and scoring touchdowns off of the turnovers."

Long is speaking of the 393 total yards of offense by the Falcons. It was the Aztecs that got timely stops on third down, Air Force was 5-of-18, and pulled out three fourth down stops.

"I think it says something about our whole team," Long said. "Our team is based on never giving up. Just because you give a long play away or even if you give a score away, you don't quit there. You don't ever lose your emotion. You never lose your momentum. You go back out and try to stop them."

"To be honest with you, we want them to gain zero, so every play is to try to prevent them from getting a yard. So they get 45 (yards) on a reverse. That means the next play we want to hold them to zero."

One thing that Aztecs should be extremely proud about was their ability to rush the passer and forcing three sacks.

The significance?

The Air Force offensive line had not given up a sack all season before Saturday's loss.

The list goes on.

San Diego State has given up more than 19 points just once during the current six-game winning streak.

"We've built a lot of confidence throughout the season and after the Boise State win, the defense has just been, ‘sky's the limit,'" SDSU Aztec Nat Berhe said. "Not too long ago we couldn't stop the offense and the offense was scoring for us, and this game we stopped their offense. But it's a team game. We just keep getting better."

What has made the defensive effort get better?

"It's a whole confidence issue, really," Berhe replied. "I think guys are finally realizing that we're really good on defense."

SDSU's defense is clicking on all cylinders at the right now.

Bye, Bye, Bye

San Diego State will finally receive their bye week with only a road trip to Wyoming left on their regular season schedule.

"I think that's really good for us," Long said. "We've played 11 straight weeks, and I think we're a physical football team, and when you're a physical football team, you get a lot of guys beat up. We've got a lot of guys that are playing with hurts and bumps and bruises and strains and twists. They all keep playing. Well, this will give us a chance to heal them up a little bit."

The bye gives SDSU an extra week to prepare for the Cowboys with the Mountain West Conference championship on the line.

"I think it'll be good for all of us having a bye week," SDSU running back Walter Kazee said. "We've been going at it for a long time, and it's going to feel good for everybody to get a break and rest their bodies and come out strong for our last game."

How does SDSU like the timing of the bye week?

"Well, I think it's good now," Long explained. "I don't think it was good going into the season, no. If you have your druthers, the bye week is right in the middle of the season. It's not at the start or it's not at the end. But we have so many guys beat up, it'll give us a chance to heal up a little bit."

Aztecs are one of only seven teams in the country who haven't had their bye week yet.

Senior Farewell

Saturday's victory over Air Force marked the last home game for the San Diego State seniors.

"It's great to go out with a win," senior cornerback Leon McFadden said. "The team played physical, and we harp on playing for our seniors, and our seniors led from the front and led by example. I can honestly say I'm proud of our team for coming together and having us win today."

"We were coming out here just playing our hearts out and actually having something to play for," senior running back Walter Kazee. "It's been great."

The entire SDSU team wanted to make sure the seniors got a "W" at their final game in front of the hometown crowd.

"I think we had a little extra motivation today since it was the seniors' last home game, so we had to do it for them tonight," sophomore linebacker Derek Largent said.

It's possible that SDSU will play at Qualcomm Stadium again this season if the Aztecs land in the Poinsettia Bowl (vs. BYU).

Finishing Notes

-San Diego State quarterback Ryan Katz walked out of the tunnel on crutches during the pregame senior acknowledgments. He received a standing ovation from the 30,266 fans at Qualcomm Stadium.

-SDSU picked up its 500th win in the history of the program. San Diego State is now 500-397-32 (.555).

"I heard about it during the week, and everybody was motivated to come into this game, being senior night, and sending all the seniors off with a big win," McFadden said.

-Rocky Long passed TCU head coach Gary Patterson for the most wins (78) in the history of the Mountain West.

"To be honest with you, none of that stuff matters to me," Long replied to breaking the MW wins record. "I mean, today's win matters a whole bunch to me."

-Air Force scored the fewest points (9) in a game since October 2010 against 4th ranked TCU.

-Everett Beed returned a fumble 52 yards for a touchdown. It was the Aztecs' first since Jerome Long had one at #3 TCU in November 2010.

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