(CSTV U-WIRE) SAN DIEGO – If San Diego State Head Coach Chuck Long had ordered ice cream at SDSU’s Family Day scrimmage on Aug. 19, it probably would have been plain vanilla.
No sprinkles, no cherry on top. Probably in a cup, just to be safe.
Long kept things simple in the Aztecs’ final scrimmage of fall camp at Qualcomm Stadium. It was more substance than style, with the offense running its most basic formations and key contributors seeing limited action.
“We kept it vanilla today,” Long said. “We didn’t play a lot of our older guys. We didn’t do a lot of formation shifts, and we didn’t shift a lot. We were looking to see some guys play rather than try to confuse the opponent.”
Understandably, SDSU didn’t want to risk an injury to its starters or tip its hand to opponents’ scouts, but afterward, senior defensive tackle Jonathan Bailes promised a different approach during the season.
“We’ve got a lot more exciting stuff,” Bailes said. “Having seen some of the plays we’ve run in camp, we’re gonna surprise some people. It’s something the fans will enjoy watching.”
Junior quarterback Kevin O’Connell led the Aztecs’ first scoring drive of the scrimmage, and it appears he will be at the helm for the season opener.
“(O’Connell’s) had a great camp,” Long said. “He had a nice drive today, and he’ll go in as the No. 1 quarterback.”
O’Connell was efficient in his limited action, going 4-of-9 passing for 47 yards. He led an 11-play, 61-yard scoring drive for the only touchdown of the scrimmage.
Star tailback Lynell Hamilton was one of a number of starters who didn’t see much action in Saturday’s scrimmage.
With the junior on the sidelines, his backups had a chance to distinguish themselves, and redshirt freshman Atiyyah Henderson did just that.
Henderson finished with 38 yards on five carries but showed flashes of brilliance, including a 26-yard burst showcasing his blazing speed.
“I’m trying to be a playmaker here,” Henderson said. “Lynell’s the main guy, but I have a role as a change-of-pace back. We have some power backs, but I’m the speed guy.
Henderson should contribute as a third-down back and appears to be the primary kick returner after returning most of the kickoffs at Family Day.
At times, it seemed like the only people aware of Family Day were the players’ immediate families.
Qualcomm Stadium was mostly empty for the scrimmage, which was free to the public.
“People don’t know about coach Long,” Bailes said. “On Aug. 31, when UTEP comes, we’re gonna do our thing and people will jump in.”
Added Henderson: “I’m not worried. I know (against UTEP) it’s going to be packed.”