AP NEWS

Aztecs’ Randy Ricks makes an impact at linebacker

August 14, 2016

Ricks got his feet wet at linebacker last season, playing in nine games (two starts) for San Diego State. A broken toe sidelined him for four games or he would have been even more of a presence. He still came away with 22 tackles, including 2 1/2 sacks. He was second on the team with six quarterback hurries. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior from Las Vegas is poised for a breakout season this year, displaying the speed and aggressiveness that will put opposing quarterbacks in jeopardy. His first career sack came in the Aztecs’ win over Fresno State. He was injured a week later at Hawaii. He returned in time for a homecoming at Las Vegas and had one of his best games, contributing to a sack while breaking up a pass and forcing a fumble. SDSU is looking to replace the spirited Jake Fely. Ricks may not play with the same outward emotion, but he will be a presence in the middle of the Aztecs defense.

SDSU makes a visit to the Beehive State in Week 8 for a late October game in which weather could be a factor. The Aztecs have dominated this series playing in all kinds of conditions. They are 11-1 overall against the Aggies, whose only win in the series came in 1967 (it was the Aztecs’ first loss playing at San Diego Stadium). SDSU rolled to a 48-14 home win last season over Utah State, which was coming off a huge win against Boise State. The Aggies (6-7 in 2015) return 10 offensive starters, which should help them improve an offense that ranked ninth in the Mountain West (370.6 yards per game). They were led by a defense that ranked third in the conference (332.5 ypg). The unit lost six starters, however. The loss of linebacker Nick Vigil, who was a third round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, will be the most difficult to overcome.

One thing that would help the game experience at Qualcomm Stadium is a new scoreboard. There have been a few advancements in technology since the current one went in going on 20 years ago. The replay board is small and the images not nearly as clear as they would be on a state-of-the-art video board (as visitors to Petco Park can attest). SDSU is interested in having a new one put in and has inquired about doing exactly that, but the stadium’s other football-playing tenants appear to have no interest in improvements.