Las Vegas Bowl grades: Pumphrey fuels Aztecs’ win over Houston

Aztecs running back sets college career rushing record in win over the Cougars.

| 4 months ago
(Kent Horner, Getty Images)

(Kent Horner, Getty Images)

Las Vegas Bowl grades: Pumphrey fuels Aztecs’ win over Houston


San Diego State Aztecs 34, Houston Cougars 10

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from San Diego State’s 34-10 win over Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl:

San Diego State Aztecs

Quarterback grade: Christian Chapman, 65.2

Chapman plays to running game and Aztecs defense in win

Quarterback Christian Chapman didn’t produce big numbers as a passer in this one, but he didn’t need to. He was 10-of-14 for 128 yards with a drop and a touchdown pass, including 3-of-4 on pass attempts under pressure for 39 yards. He also completed both pass attempts of 20 yards or more downfield, including a touchdown on a post route to put the game away in the fourth quarter.

Top offensive grades:

RB  Donnel Pumphrey, 75.3

T Daniel Brunskill, 73.0

G Antonio Rosales, 71.4

WR Curtis Anderson, 69.8

T Kwayde Miller, 69.4

Pumphrey leads offense and breaks FBS rushing record

Donnel Pumphrey caused five missed tackles on 19 rush attempts and averaged an impressive 5.58 yards after contact per rush to lead SDSU to victory and break the FBS career rushing record with his 119-yard, one touchdown game. Running mostly behind zone blocking and designed perimeter runs, Pumphrey’s elusiveness and ability to break tackles shows that he is not merely a system back, and playing in a pro-style offense at San Diego State should make his transition to the NFL relatively easy.

Top defensive grades:

DE Kyle Kelley, 80.1

ED Jay Henderson, 78.9

S Kameron Kelly, 78.7

LB Calvin Munson, 78.0

S Malik Smith, 77.9

Aztecs defensive front relentless in win

Kyle Kelley was a force in the Cougars’ backfield, with two sacks and two hurries to go along with six tackles and four stops. Rush linebacker Jay Henderson was also productive, with two sacks and three QB hurries. Kameron Kelly played well in the Aztecs’ secondary, yielding one reception on two targets for four yards, with an interception. The Aztecs front as a group played well in the win.

Houston Cougars

Quarterback grade: Greg Ward Jr., 55.9

Ward has tough day against SDSU defense

Greg Ward Jr. had a rough outing in this one, completing 25 of his 34 pass attempts for 212 yards, with a drop and four interceptions. An interception Ward had returned for a touchdown was not his error, as a wide receiver did not block the cornerback on a wide screen play. Ward was pressured on 13 of his 47 total dropbacks and was sacked seven times.

Top offensive grades:

WR Keith Corbin, 72.7

RB Brandon Wilson, 67.7

G Mac Long, 64.0

G Alex Fontana, 63.9

WR Isiah Johnson, 60.2

Cougars struggle up front

Houston’s offensive line had a tough task blocking the physical and fast front the Aztecs showcased, and it was the difference in the game. Houston failed to consistently move the ball, and it was a rough day for their high-powered offense. A couple of bright spots for the Cougars were the performances of Keith Corbin, who caught three passes for 34 yards, and Brandon Wilson, who flashed his versatility playing both offense and defense while having success on kickoff returns.

Top defensive grades:

LB Matthew Adams, 81.8

CB Howard Wilson, 78.0

DT Nick Thurman, 76.4

S Colin Wilder, 70.1

DT Jerard Carter, 69.3

Cougars defense wears down as game progresses

Houston’s defense started strong but finished poorly, as the Cougars’ inability to stop the Aztecs’ running game combined with their own offense’s inability to keep them off the field was too much to overcome. LB Matthew Adams had a big day, with seven tackles and two assists in run defense, while Howard Wilson made plays coming up from the secondary in run defense as well as yielding 16 yards on two targets in pass coverage.

| Analyst

Taylor is an offensive line and run-game specialist at Pro Football Focus. He has coached at every level of college football, with experience at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Central Missouri, and Wyoming.

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