No matter which quarterback San Diego State sends to the field Saturday, this week he had a new braintrust guiding him, following staff changes the Aztecs made last weekend.
Jeff Horton took over as offensive coordinator following SDSU’s 35-13 loss in their Mountain West opener, replacing Jeff Hecklinski, who was fired. Ryan Lindley was brought in as quarterbacks coach, a role Hecklinski also had filled.
The deflating loss, coupled with Sunday’s announcement of the firing, added up to a series of challenging days for the football program, head coach Brady Hoke said.
“It’s definitely adversity, and this is where we’re going to find out the most about ourselves as a football team and do our best to keep working forward,” he said.
In the short term, that means staking their hopes at quarterback on Braxton Burmeister, who has to clear concussion protocols in order to play Saturday when the Aztecs welcome Hawaii to Snapdragon Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Kyle Crum is no longer available after having had surgery this week. SDSU also has DJ Ralph, a walk-on, to turn to, “so we have a good set of options,” Hoke said.
One break – though the Aztecs have started out in lackluster fashion at 2-3, Hawaii is worse at 1-4. The team has five games to be played against MW West Division foes and seven total conference contests to right the ship.
Jordan Byrd, who has experience with Horton, who oversees the running backs, thinks the staff changes will pay dividends for the struggling offense.
“He brings a lot of energy to the offensive side, so it will really pump it up,” the senior said.
One thing that has become a rallying cry for San Diego State – the performance of the 2015 team, which also started out at 2-3 before rebounding to win the MW championship. The coaches had a video put together of that team to motivate the 2022 Aztecs. Caden McDonald received the message.
“The conference championship is still in reach for us,” the senior linebacker said.