Three takeaways from Central Michigan's New Mexico Bowl loss to San Diego State
ALBUQUERQUE, N,M. -- Quinten Dormady dropped back to pass and felt the rush coming immediately. San Diego State possessed the second-best scoring defense in the entire country coming into the game and the Chippewas were looking to make a statement on their opening drive.
After his first pass went for six yards to receiver Tyrone Scott, Dormady looked to move the chains through the air against the stout Aztec defense.
However, his pass was batted into the air and intercepted by Kyahva Tezino, the junior linebacker who leads the Aztecs in tackles. Tezino made the interception at the Chippewa 32-yard line, giving a short field to a statistically poor San Diego State offense.
Aztec quarterback Ryan Agnew hit Jesse Matthews for a 22-yard touchdown to open the scoring four plays later and the rout was on.
Central Michigan was beaten 48-11 in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday. The 48 points scored by the Aztecs was the most points they scored in a single game this season.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
The narrative heading into the New Mexico Bowl was that of a showdown between the Chippewas' high powered offense and the Aztec's phenomenal defense.
What nobody expected was for the Aztecs to run rampant on the Chippewa defense.
Both through the air and on the ground, Agnew and his offense did whatever they wanted throughout Saturday's contest. Running back Jordan Byrd, who came into the contest with 216 rushing yards on the season, ran for 139 against the Chippewas.
Central Michigan was without both of its starting cornerbacks, as both sophomore Darius Bracy and freshman Kyron McKinnie-Harper were unable to play in the contest due to injury. In their absence, the Chippewas struggled to make tackles in the open field against the Aztec running backs.
Agnew also benefitted from his receivers' ability to get separation from the Chippewa secondary. On the day, the senior threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Jesse Matthews. Both Matthews and TJ Sullivan scored their first career touchdowns in the contest.
The inability to tackle in space is an issue that has been masked since the emergence of Bracy and McKinnie-Harper as the starting corners, but in their stead, the Chippewas struggled to make plays, which allowed the Aztecs, who ranked 12th in the Mountain West conference to rack up 516 total yards of offense.
Offensive hits uncharacteristic low
Dormady has had turnover issues at various points this season, however, he hit a new low in Saturday's contest. On the day, Dormady was 11-26 for 164 yards with three interceptions. Though the first interception was not a fault of his, he threw two other first-half picks that were forced throws into double coverage.
His third interception was an ill-fated toss into double coverage in the end zone. It was simply a two-man route in which he made the wrong read, throwing the ball directly into the hands of Aztec defensive back Luq Barcoo.
In addition to Dormady's struggles, the receivers were unable to create much separation from Aztec defensive backs, which gave Dormady tougher windows to throw into. Pair that with consistent defensive pressure, and Dormady was due for a rough day.
Outside of a 66-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Kobe Lewis, the Chippewas were stymied on the ground. Senior running back Jonathan Ward nine times for 26 yards while senior backup quarterback Tommy Lazzaro, who had been unstoppable as of late, carried the ball three times for 5 yards.
Central Michigan's 227 yards of offense was their lowest since gaining just 58 yards in a loss to Wisconsin.
Aztecs dominate time of possession
Central Michigan knew for it to have any chance, it would have to rack up points. However, you can't rack up points if you don't have the football.
San Diego State knew this and was more than content to take their time moving down the field.
On both sides of the ball, the Aztecs dominated the third down battles, limiting the Chippewas to just four third down conversions while the Aztecs were six of 14 on their respective attempts. In addition to dominating on third downs, the Aztecs used their five forced turnovers to methodically grind out a victory.
The Aztecs were three of four in third-and-short situations, while the Chippewas were one of five. San Diego State forced sophomore punter Brady Buell to punt eight times.
The Aztecs held the ball for 38:19 while holding the Chippewas to just 21:41, their lowest total in that statistic since a week two loss to Wisconsin, where they possessed the ball for just 20:33.
It was, all around, an abysmal day for Central Michigan.