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Aztecs DE Barrett shows he’s a force in win

September 4, 2016 GMT

When San Diego State head coach Rocky Long called Alex Barrett the best defensive lineman in the league when he was only a sophomore, it might have raised some eyebrows in the Mountain West.

There will be no questioning of Barrett’s stature this year. Nor will the senior end be overlooked.

Voted to the league’s preseason first team by six media outlets, Barrett got off to a rousing start against New Hampshire on Saturday. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder was constantly in the Wildcats’ backfield, recording two sacks amid five total tackles through the first 3½ quarters. He also knocked down a pass.

Barrett had a third sack that was called back by his own facemask penalty. On the play early in the third quarter, he forced a fumble by New Hampshire quarterback Trevor Knight, with Randy Ricks recovering at the UH 2-yard line.

But the facemask call on Barrett moved the ball 41 yards the other direction to the Wildcats’ 43. UH didn’t get a first down and had to punt.

After playing nose tackle in ’14 in the 3-3-5 defense, Barrett was moved to end at the start of the ’15 season and played there until tackle Christian Heyward was injured with two games remaining. He had 5 ½ sacks on the year to bring his total to 11 ½ going into ’16.

Houston win hurts

The Aztecs’ hopes for making a New Year’s Six bowl game took a serious hit on Saturday before their own first kickoff of the season.

No. 15 Houston upset No. 3 Oklahoma 33-23, and the victory gives the Cougars, from the American Athletic Conference, the extreme upper hand in earning the one New Year’s Six spot guaranteed to the Group of Five conferences, which include the Mountain West.

Houston earned a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl last season, making the Peach Bowl and beating Florida State.

Beware of Jaguars

In another upset that will be noted by SDSU, South Alabama beat Mississippi State 21-20 when the Bulldogs’ kicker missed a 28-yard field goal in the closing seconds. It was the first victory in program history against an SEC opponent for the Jaguars, who host the Aztecs Oct. 1 after beating them 34-27 in overtime at Qualcomm in the third game of last season.

Notable

--The Aztecs lost one of the best kickers in school history, Donny Hageman, to graduation, but it doesn’t appear that there will be much of a dropoff in production. In his first start, sophomore John Baron II made his only field goal attempt (33 yards), and, impressively, forced four touchbacks in five kickoffs. Hageman had 24 touchbacks in 86 kicks last season.

--The announced attendance on the night of the KGB SkyShow was 46,486 – 2,299 fewer than the crowd for last year’s game against USD. It was the third-lowest total for the SkyShow in the last six years.

--At halftime, an “Aztecs in the NFL” feature was played on the scoreboard. It highlighted the career of former SDSU running back Ronnie Hillman. Pre-planned, obviously, and unfortunate timing. Hillman was cut by Denver earlier on Saturday after three seasons with the Broncos. The 24-year-old was a third-round draft pick in 2012.

-- Coming off Friday’s victory over No. 1-ranked Akron, the Aztecs soccer team drew hearty applause from the large crowd when it was introduced on the field late in the third quarter.

-- Though the game was not televised, there were still numerous stoppages between possessions that the referee announced as “media” timeouts. Practice for Bobby Hood, the man in the orange sleeves? They should have worked on the ref’s mic. His communication was unintelligible in the second half due to the sound dropping out.