Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Aztecs' Rocky Long expects “Three yards and a cloud of dust” at the Poinsettia Bowl

San Diego State Aztecs (7-5) vs. Navy Midshipmen (7-5)
Tuesday, December 23rd at 6:30 p.m. PT (ESPN)
Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, CA)

DOWNTOWN (12/22/2014) On the eve of the 2014 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the head coaches of both teams addressed the media at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Diego.

The meeting concluded with San Diego State's fourth-year head coach Rocky Long explaining how Navy's unique triple-option attack works.

“I was nervous before I came,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “But now to hear him tell our offense in detail...not only the head coach, but the defensive coordinator....”

Niumatalolo, who became the winningest coach in school history after a 13th straight win over Army, jokingly slammed a piece of paper on the table and laughed with the rest of the audience.

The Aztecs held their last eight opponents to less than 400 yards of total offense, and is currently riding an eight-game winning streak against service academy teams (Air Force, Army, and Navy), who run similar option-based offenses.

But Long still stresses that his team needs to execute in order to be successful on Tuesday night.

“If you don't do things exactly the right way, they will run down the field and beat your head in,” said Long. “And (Niumatalolo) got the the kids to do”.

The main kid the Aztecs defense will have to account for is junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds. The dual-threat leads the Midshipmen's second-ranked ground game, and holds the NCAA record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single game (7), season (31), and career (62).

“Keenan operates (and reads) that option as well as you can,” Long said. “You have to get guys closer and closer to the line of scrimmage, you got to get safeties involved in supporting the run. And then it's a play-action pass, they throw it over the top of you and it’s a touchdown.”

“We don’t run the same offense, we have the same philosophies.”

Powered by the explosive playmaking ability of sophomore Donnel Pumphrey, the Aztecs boast a strong ground game of their own. The First-Team All-Mountain West selection rushed for 1,755 yards this season and needs 88 to break the school's single-season record held by George Jones, who put up 1,842 in 1995. Pumphrey currently ranks fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game (146.25).

“For a football purist, this will be the best football game you have ever watched,” Long added.

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