Springing ahead


[youtube width=”600″ height=”450″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap0a_aIgozM[/youtube]

In a game where making stops and creating turnovers receive points for the defense, SDSU’s ball-stoppers had more than enough reinforcement in that regard.

The Jacks defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the first half by R.C. Kilgore and Erich Feller in the annual spring game, while sacking SDSU quarterbacks seven times in a 79-29 score in favor of the blue-jerseyed unit.

That’s the fourth year in a row the defense has outscored the offense. In fact, the defense reached the end zone (twice) as often as the offense did, and that’s only because cornerback Darryl Jackson’s interception to the end zone was negated for excessive celebration.

SDSU quarterbacks combined for four interceptions and the Jacks committed five turnovers total, even more insult to nine three-and-out drives that gave the defensive side of the ball additional points.

“Very average on our part today,” running back Tyrel Kool said afterwards. The expected replacement to Kyle Minett finished with 45 yards on eight carries. “Turnovers is probably going to be our focus once we go back to watching film.”

With every shortcoming, there’s a standout play, and there were a few of those. Kilgore’s tipped catch interception of a Jordan Thomas pass was an agile play, and Kilgore ran it back uninterrupted. Bo Helm’s interception of Thomas O’Brien came on an across the field sprint to jump a receiving route, and Feller’s 52-yard interception return pushed the defense’s lead to 30-0.

What does that all mean?

For starters, the offense lagged behind. The quarterback position, considered a huge question mark entering the 2011 season, was a carousel of erratic throws and broken plays. Thomas O’Brien was 12 of 28 for 69 yards, throwing three interceptions and one touchdown. Redshirt and backup quarterback during spring ball, Austin Sumner, was 7 of 13 for 92 yards against the backup defensive unit. Sumner engineered two scoring drives without throwing a pick, but never baffled a consistently good defense all day.

“I was really disappointed in the number of broken plays we had,” coach John Stiegelmeier said. “For being late in practice in the spring, that’s totally unacceptable.”

SDSU’s running game looked stagnant, too. If sack totals are any indication, there were few holes to run through. About the only error on the defense were outward demonstrations of celebrating, with Jackson’s high-stepping to the end zone and Zach Bowers’ dance move after a tackle for loss. It was that kind of day.

Evaluating results aren’t black and white. SDSU didn’t dress 20 players on its roster and the weather, cold and windy, was another point along with recognizable schemes for the defense to prey upon. But the defense looked in peak form, if not entirely healthy. For the offense, one play greater than 20 yards and five turnovers means more questions than answers.

“We expect a lot more from ourselves,” Kool said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board, definitely focus on turnovers and take it a day at a time.”