Let us all now freak out about our untested offensive line catching chicken pox maybe

LOL, you didn’t think the San Diego State football team was going to make it through fall camp unscathed did you? It seems every summer, the Aztecs end up hampered by injuries to an entire position group or a suspension for a stupid violation of team rules.

What will it be this year?

/spins Wheel of Misfortune

pox

Let’s see … box … fox … OH!! I’d like to solve the puzzle! CHICKENPOX!

Wait … chickenpox? Seriously??

The three players with chickenpox are junior offensive lineman Ryan Pope and senior linebackers Tyler Morris and Temerick Harper. Pope is a starter at right tackle, Morris and Harper are backup linebackers, but both play extensively on special teams.

Ffs.

OK so, chickenpox is not the end of the world. The likely worst-case scenario is for the affected players to miss about three weeks. If the meds are effective, it will be more like one. But head coach Rocky Long is rightfully concerned about the outbreak spreading to other players. Given that Ryan Pope’s name is up there, so should we all.

Here’s Rocky talking about his offensive line before the start of camp:

Long said the hardest thing for offensive linemen is to adjust on the move, adjusting their steps and still being able to be properly positioned to block opposing linemen.

“That is a technique that is learned after repetition, repetition, repetition,” he said. “They don’t have that. The only way to get that is to play.”

Yep, the position group we were all worried about because of inexperience now has one of its members diagnosed with a super contagious ailment that will seriously curtail his practice time. Oh, and it’s a key member at that; a 6-foot-7 monster who projects as a starter at right tackle and is one of the few players up front who logged at least a handful of snaps last year.

And that U-T chickenpox story linked up there? It includes a photo from Friday of Pope using the back of right guard Antonio Rosales – the line’s only returning starter – to sign an autograph.

Pleasant dreams, everyone!

I’d like to be a little more chill about this, especially considering the new kids up front are reputed to be really big and strong and athletic, and line coach Mike Schmidt is reputed to be a freaking boss. Still, recent SDSU history in years with lots of offensive line turnover has been … troubling.

To wit:

  • In 2013, the Aztecs replaced two all-conference linemen and had only three linemen who had logged a single career start. SDSU stumbled to an 0-3 start (with a loss to Eastern Illinois!) during which it averaged just 86 yards rushing per game. Once the newcomers settled in, the Aztecs averaged 190 yards rushing and won eight of 10 games.
  • In 2015, the Aztecs returned only three linemen with starting experience, and one of them got himself suspended for the first half of the season. SDSU started 1-3 and averaged 139 yards rushing per game. Once the newcomers settled in (and Darrell Greene returned), the Aztecs averaged 270 yards rushing and won 10 straight.

Conclusions?

Well, Mountain West teams can’t stop the run for shit, I guess there’s that. Another is that Rocky isn’t just being his usual negative Nihilist Rocky when he expresses concern in this area. He probably means it.

The “what ifs” are concerning, indeed.

What if the offensive line, ravaged by chicken pox, struggles against UC Davis’ FCS defense, making that game a close call?

What if it then struggles against Arizona State’s FCS defense, too?

What if Stanford and their extremely Power Five defense then rips our limbs off and beats us to death with our own limbs?

If the threat of nuclear war wasn’t already keeping me up at night, this nonsense probably would.

It is my belief that Rocky should immediately place the rest of his linemen in a plastic germ-proof bubble until further notice. There is no time to waste.

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Author: Aztecs Killing Him

Former proprietor of AztecsKillingHim dot com, a long-dead SDSU sports blog that was possibly dumber even than this one. On Twitter at @akh_blog.

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