The Aztecs are one week away from their first football game of the season, against UNLV in their temporary home at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. But, as the real thing gets closer, SDSU still hasn’t gotten much of its traditional prep time.
“We’re still virtually meeting most of the time,” says head coach Brady Hoke. “We’re going to be able to get some actual meetings because we have some space in (Fowler Athletics Center) to do that so as we move forward we’ll get a little bit more of that, which will make it more normal.”
So, they’ve been using the new normal. When you can’t hold full practices it helps having players with experience. At the quarterback position, San Diego State has just one man on the roster who’s made a start in an Aztecs uniform. He’s the guy who got the starting gig.
Sophomore Carson Baker will be under center for the season opener after winning the QB competition over the summer.
“He had a good camp. I think he picked up the nuances of the offense. He’s highly competitive and did a lot of good things, obviously,” says Hoke. “The other guys all had things they did well. We just felt he was the guy to lead us and to start us off.”
The local product grew up attending Aztecs sporting events with his parents.
“I went to Helix High School down the street so it’s awesome that I get to lead my home town team,” says Baker. “I’m extremely thankful and honored to be put in this position.”
As a freshman, Baker stepped in for injured starter Ryan Agnew against BYU. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 172 yards, a touchdown, and no turnovers in a 13-3 win. That experience went a long way towards him getting the gig.
“Any game experience and live game reps are always helpful,” says Baker. “To get the first one out of the way, get the feel for the game, especially against a great opponent like BYU, to feel the speed, feel the contact, it was extremely helpful.”
The biggest opponent now, though, is COVID-19. Every single conference that’s started playing has had to postpone and reschedule multiple games due to outbreaks. The Aztecs are doing all that’s in their power to avoid a similar problem.
“We try and communicate about accountability and about making great decisions,” says Hoke. “Staying together in their little bubbles and as coaches we’ve done the same thing. It’s one of those things that we’re all very vigilant about and we’re going to stay that way. We’re gonna, hopefully, be able to get through this thing.”
With no bye weeks the Mountain West is already expecting some teams to not be able to play their full schedule.