AZTECS VIE FOR FIRST PLACE IN MOUNTAIN WEST

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By Liz Alper

Photo: Rocky Long, SDSU News Center

October 20, 2015 (San Diego) - With a big conference matchup against Utah State coming up on Friday night, Aztec football head coach Rocky Long at his weekly press conference today addressed the challenges that the Aztecs will face on Friday.

The Aztecs and the Aggies are the last two undefeated teams in the Mountain West.

Rocky Long is prepared, however. "What they (Utah State) did to Boise State last week was pretty impressive, so we know it's gonna be quite a challenge."

Long also has Donnell Pumphrey playing against Utah State. "I think he's a hundred percent.  A running back is always beat up a little bit at this time of year.  He's beat up a little bit, but he's as good as any guy who's carried the ball as much as he has."

Quarterback Maxwell Smith says his confidence is building as the season goes along. "It's been great each and every game, you know, to get a little more comfortable with everything that we're doing as an offense, get more comfortable with the receivers, the running backs and with my whole line, so it's definitely helped.  Each game you get under your belt is a help in terms of confidence."

One of the main concerns of Coach Long is losing a day of practice due to the game being on Friday night, but linebacker Calvin Munson isn't worried. "Yeah, we're gonna lose a day of physicalness, but I think if we're all mentally locked in, I think we'll be just fine.  We're all pretty amped up, so we're gonna put in the extra focus and we're gonna be ready."  

Despite how well the Aztecs' secondary has been playing, the players say there's more. "I personally think we have more on the defensive side of the ball," safety Malik Smith says. "I think we can really dominate a whole game.  We're doing good, but I think we still have more."

All three players at the conference are ready for Friday night.  Malik Smith is "extremely excited" for this game. "This is not another game.  This is the game for first place, so this is not another game.  This is something personal."

The Aztecs take on Utah State at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.  You can watch the game on ESPN2 and it will be broadcast on the Mighty 1090.