A day later, I’m not totally sure what I saw last night. Did that really happen, or was that a vision caused by the unholy combination of a late game, prescription meds, and a triple digit fever stewing my brain from the inside.
Because what I saw just doesn’t add up: The Aztecs staring down adversity and rallying together after a catastrophic injury to one of their best players. Horrible officiating calls going in SDSU’s favor. Everything that Rocky Long touched turning to gold. All culminating in an overtime win over a legitimately good non-service academy on the road.
There’s no way that really happened, is there?
Well I’ll be.
I’ve watched that highlight video about 25 times already today, and every time I do, I laugh my ass off at the same part.
On what may become the signature call of his SDSU coaching career, Rocky Long — the man whose stoic, emotionless demeanor has been interpreted by some fans as not giving two fucks — suddenly morphed into Emotion Eric as the game-winning two point conversion floated softly into the mitts of Adam Roberts.
Frankly, the man deserved a little bit of an outburst. As much as people took their shots at Rocky after the Washington chart debacle, this win was a coaching masterpiece. He managed to keep the team from running to the beach after quarterback Ryan Katz suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter (more on that later), he wisely declined a penalty that ultimately gave them enough time to mount the game tying drive, and he had the courage to put it all on the line by going for 2 in overtime (the absolute right call, given how the defense was struggling).
This was a statement win for the Aztecs — one that showed their character and mettle. One that, at long last, proved that Rocky might know how to instill a little mental toughness after all.
No player showed more mental toughness last night than Adam Dingwell. SDSU’s backup took a while to find his comfort zone, but once he did, he proved that life in the post-Katz world might not be so bad. He didn’t panic, didn’t make any costly mistakes, and didn’t blink when he was asked to lead huge drives in the fourth quarter and overtime.
It’s hard not to feel terrible for Katz, who was having a wonderful season and certainly deserved the chance to lead this team into a bowl game. But his injury has a small silver lining. Dingwell will now start at least four more games, and probably a bowl game if he picks up another win or two. That means that by the time the first season of Big East play rolls around, the Aztecs will have a seasoned quarterback at the helm.
And yes, I know I’m an asshole for thinking that way. Get well soon, Ryan.
Some Aztecs fans might feel like assholes right now for another reason — celebrating a victory that was clearly influenced by terrible officiating. Look, I’m not saying those two fourth quarter interference calls were bogus, I’m just saying I’m surprised to see the replacement refs from the Seahawks-Packers game last month working a Mountain West contest. But should you really feel bad about this? A couple of things come to mind:
- Illegal stemming.
Nope, not gonna feel bad about this.
Indeed, you should feel free to bask in one of the best Aztecs victories of the 2000s — probably the best. The Poinsettia Bowl was close. As was the win over a ranked squad Air Force in 2010. But to do this on the road, with a backup quarterback, under the leadership of a coach our fanbase has treated like a pinata? This was the best I’ve seen, bar none.
Methinks we can ride this good feeling for a while. Speaking of which, methinks it’s time for more codeine.