San Diego State Players to Watch For

Story posted September 24, 2015 in CommRadio, Sports by George Stockburger

While San Diego State isn’t necessarily known for their football, that doesn’t mean they don’t posses a threat to the Nittany Lions perfect 2015 home record. The Aztecs offense has scored a combined 71 points in their first three games, outscoring the Nittany Lions by 30 points in their first three matchups. If anything, expect this game to be a clash of Penn State’s 23rd ranked total defense and San Diego State’s high scoring ability.

Here are some of the names you’ll need to know heading into the afternoon battle at Beaver Stadium.

Donnel Pumphrey, Running Back

The aggressive back from Las Vegas leads the Aztecs in rushing yards (249) and rushing touchdowns with two. While the stats may not excite you, Pumphrey’s ability to be a factor in both the run and receiving game should catch the attention of Penn State’s defense this weekend. Pumphrey is also third in receiving yards for San Diego State, flashing that combination of rushing ability and pass catching.

When I watch Pumphrey’s tape, I see a poor man’s Ryan Matthews. He can slide out on a screen and give you a decent gain or lower his head and run in between the tackles. He’s clearly head coach Rocky Long’s guy when it comes to carrying, well, the rock. He’s had three times as many carries as the next man on the depth chart, so expect to see a lot of Donnel Pumphrey.

Calvin Munson, LB

When you talk about linebacker Calvin Munson’s 2015 season, the first thing that comes up are his two pick-six interceptions. Both came against the University of San Diego Toreros, where Munson also contributed ten tackles.

Expect Munson to also be blitzing off the right side. The lumbering linebacker had 1.5 sacks on Cal’s stud quarterback prospect Jared Goff. Munson will also drop back into zone coverage, but his lack of quickness can result in men being open in the middle of the field. If offensive coordinator John Donovan ever decides to add a crossing route into his scheme, Hackenberg might get a chance to spread the ball around.

Damontae Kazee, CB

There’s a lot to like about cornerback Damontae Kazee, who’s already snagged three interceptions in 2015. One of the qualities I can spot in Kazee that you don’t find in college defensive backs is his ability to turn his head and adjust to the ball. All those qualities were clearly evident when he hauled in all three of those interceptions in the season opener against the University of San Diego. The junior also leads his team in pass deflections, another key statistic head coach James Franklin will need to point out in film study. Kazee’s vertical leap is also an impressive asset, despite his listed 5’11 height. All those qualities will be especially key to those who’ll be looking for NFL caliber defensive backs heading into draft season.

Once again, be prepared to watch a battle of the Nittany Lions defense and the Aztecs high scoring capabilities. Christian Hackenberg will need to continue to protect the ball from what James Franklin calls a “chaos defense” that will have a lot of movement and blitzers off the edge. Saquon Barkley will need to continue his incredible one-man show in the running game and the dominance of the defensive line will need to be able to disrupt the pass and run game. If James Franklin’s squad can achieve those focuses, they have a great opportunity to maintain their seasons perfect record in Beaver Stadium.

George Stockburger is a junior majoring in journalism with a focus in broadcasting. He can be reached at

Photo Credit: San Diego Tribune