It was the Aztecs’ first win of the season against an FBS opponent, but it didn’t come without consequences.
Junior running back Donnel Pumphrey suffered a high ankle sprain and was unavailable for most of the second half, after rushing for a season-high 129 yards and a touchdown in limited action.
Pumphrey’s status is up in the air for this week’s matchup at Hawaii, but if he can’t go, Chase Price will be the starter. Price set career-highs in carries (27) and yards (151) while relieving Pumphrey on Saturday.
“He’s a dependable guy, he knows what to do, he can protect on passes, he can pop long runs,” Long said Tuesday.
SDSU is familiar with long road trips, after traveling to Penn State in September, but the trip to Hawaii presents different challenges, as the game will start at 9 p.m. because of the time difference.
“You’re losing time because the game starts at 9 p.m. your time, so I don’t know how many people are used to playing around midnight, but that’s usually around the fourth quarter,” Long said. “When it gets critical, our guys are going to be playing by their time at midnight. Their guys will be playing at 9.”
If Pumphrey isn’t able to play, the team will have to rely more on senior quarterback Maxwell Smith, who has struggled this season but had his first two-touchdown passing performance last week.
It’s the team’s run-heavy gameplan that has helped him settle in as the season rolls on.
“I like seeing us run the ball well,” Smith said. “It just makes me feel good that we are running the ball well and knowing that we can do it.”
Besides the team having to rely on him throwing the ball downfield, the coaching staff has entrusted Smith with making audibles at the line depending on what the defense is showing.
His veteran experience, including his time at Kentucky, have helped him recognize defenses.
“I’ve seen a lot of fronts now. I’m an older guy and have been playing awhile,” Smith said. “My first two years with the offense at Kentucky, the coaching staff had me do similar things as a freshman and as a sophomore and make run checks.”
SDSU and Hawaii will square off Saturday at 9 p.m. The game can be seen on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and can be heard on The Mighty 1090 AM and 105.7 The Max FM.
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