Mountain West College football Snapdragon
San Diego State wants to do a better job of protecting Jalen Mayden, here in the Aztecs’ loss to UCLA. Photo credit: Derrick Tuskan via

San Diego State has enjoyed the support of the home crowd for four of its first five games, but for the second straight contest at Snapdragon Stadium, the Aztecs have drawn a tough assignment.

That would be Boise State to open up their conference slate at 7:30 p.m. Friday. And the Broncos topped the preseason Mountain West poll, though the team comes into the game with an 1-2 record.

One commonality between the teams – both have fallen to Pac-12 teams during their non-conference schedule. No. 8 Washington walloped Boise State 56-9, while SDSU fell to UCLA and Oregon State.

The Aztecs began the season with two wins, followed by two those losses, but head coach Brady Hoke answered simply, “I do,” when asked if he liked the position San Diego State is in heading into MW play.

“Would I like us to play a little cleaner … not miss that block, not miss the hole, not miss a tackle, or leverage the ball, all that stuff? I wish we would be a little better at it,” he said. “But I think we’re a work in progress.”

One area where he wants improvement – protecting quarterback Jalen Mayden.

“It’s everybody’s fault when he’s on his back,” Hoke said.

As Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson said of giving up six sacks against Oregon State, “that’s unacceptable.”

“So with him being the guy that we want back there as a quarterback we’ve got to make sure we protect him a lot more,” said the senior offensive lineman.

The Aztecs must look out for Bronco quarterback Taylen Green – he’s “really good with his feet,” said cornerback Dez Malone – along with running backs Ashton Jeanty and George Holani, though he’s been hurt.

There’s a grudge factor in play too. Boise State scored 35 answered points in the second half in their 2022 win over SDSU. The loss prompted a major shift in the Aztecs’ offense, and for Malone the “bad taste in our mouth” still lingers.

“This is a game that I feel is really one of the more important games, especially going into conference play,” the junior said. “This game can really show a lot and it can turn a lot of
heads, so this is a big game.”