Long received a lot of heat from fans over social media after the loss, but the some of the players don’t think the blame should fall squarely on him.
“(Long’s) not out there missing blocks, missing tackles, dropping passes, etc. None of this is on Coach Long,” junior safety Malik Smith said during a Tuesday press conference. “Coach Long is doing a great job of getting us ready. He treats us like men. He talks to us like we’re men and we talk to him as a man. There’s no confusion. You can talk to him about anything.”
Social media wasn’t the only place where Long took heat.
He also received it from a column in the San Diego Union Tribune that was published Tuesday.
Junior wide receiver came to Long’s defense on that front.
“For someone to say and write something like that is bad on their part because they don’t know what goes on in here. They don’t know the things he does for the program and what the coaching staff has done for us,” Mills said. “I can speak for myself and the rest of the players that we believe in the coaching staff. We just have to make more plays.”
Mills was one of the lone bright spots for SDSU Saturday, throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass while averaging 21 yards per punt return, including a long of 57.
SDSU will face arguably one of its toughest tests of the season this Saturday, as they travel to Happy Valley to take on Penn State.
Long is aware that it has been a while since SDSU has beaten a Power 5 school on the road, and the implications a win could have for the program.
“Just a couple years ago at Boise State (we won), but that doesn’t count. That doesn’t matter,” Long said. “That doesn’t count because they’re not a traditional power in somebody’s mind. I don’t know whose mind it is, but that one doesn’t count. So until we beat one of those boys on the road that everybody else thinks is a big boy, it doesn’t count. Just ask.”
How to attack the Hackenburg
To beat Penn State, the Aztecs will have to find a way to stop Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg, regarded as one of the better quarterbacks in the country and a potential first round pick for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Penn State dropped its first game of the season to Temple, 27-10, but a switch from a spread-style to pro-style offense has propelled them to two straight wins. Since the switch, the Nittany Lions have scored at least 27 points.
“They’re pounding the ball and using play-action pass more than they did the first game of the year,” Long said. “They’ve gone back more traditional, so Hackenberg is more in his type of system rather than the spread system. He’s not a spread quarterback.”
Through three games, Hackenberg has thrown for 372 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Fely to return just in time
Senior linebacker Jake Fely didn’t play last week due to concussion-like symptoms, stemming from a car accident last Tuesday.
Long said that Fely has been cleared, and that good news for the Aztecs as Penn State’s run game has excelled since its loss in the first game of the season.
Last week, freshman running Saquon Barkley back scored twice in the team’s win over Rutgers and compiled 195 yards on the ground.
He’s ran for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in the team’s last two games.
” He’s got big legs. He’s hard to bring down one-on-one, breaks a lot of arm tackles, and he’s got good speed, not great speed, but good speed,” Long said.
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