Originally published September 21, 2009 at 6:59 a.m., updated September 21, 2009 at 12:44 p.m.
Dwane Brown: The Baltimore Ravens and linebacker Ray Lewis spoiled the Chargers home opener Sunday at Qualcomm. We're joined on Morning Edition by North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris. It was a record passing day, Jay, for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, but the team still failed to score touchdowns in the red zone at least three times. Where are they coming up short?
The San Diego Chargers were dealt a defeat in last night's game against the Ravens. We're joined on Morning Edition by North County Times Sports Columnist Jay Paris.
Jay Paris: Definitely the running attack. Philip Rivers had a sensational game yesterday throwing for 436 yards, the most by any Charger quarterback not named Dan Fouts. He was sensational. But they just can't run the ball with LaDainian Tomlinson being out, some injuries along the front line. Until that gets clicking and they get a little balance out there it's going to be a tough sled. That said, calling that run on the last play is a real head scratcher, he mentioned the TV show "Mad Men," that was a lot of the fans leaving the stadium yesterday because a lot of people took exception to Norv Turner's call there at the end.
Alan Ray: How much of it is a problem in the difference in size between LT and Darren Sproles?
Paris: It's not a huge difference –there's a little bit. Darren Sproles is one of the smaller guys out there, so he's definitely looking for the edge. LT, he's a little more thicker now, he can stick it up between the tackles a little bit more. But, neither one of them are your classic "bruiser" running back. Both of them rely more on their speed and shiftiness than pure strength. You know, missing two offensive linemen too, that's also very critical. The Chargers have a lot of problems on the other side of the ball, too. That's stopping the run as well. Two of the really basic tenets of football, running the football and stopping the run, they're having trouble doing both.
Brown: Well, the San Diego State Aztecs on the road lost 34-20 at Idaho, what was the deal there, anything positive to report?
Paris: They're taking small steps, but they're almost carbon-copies of the Chargers, Brady Hoke came into town saying how much he wanted to establish the run and really get to old-time football. They can't run the ball either. They're having trouble stopping the run and penalties too. I think they've had 17 the last couple of games. They are still taking those baby steps. This is going to take a while. It's tough to come into a football program and flip it. You can't just snap your fingers, you got to get your players in there and you go to get your philosophy installed. Now here comes Air Force, the Aztecs will be a two touchdown underdog there at home this week. So, very, very slow process, very, very small steps; you got to figure out a way to run the ball a little bit and you got to avoid those yellow flags. You can't have that many penalties.
Ray: The Padres finished up a four games series in Pittsburg tonight. They are two out of three over the weekend. Are you liking what you are seeing with the young guys?
Paris: Definitely. They're really playing a Petco-style baseball, that speed and defense, speed and defense and pitching. And that's really how you are going to be successful at Petco and moving forward. They're playing the kids, this is basically an extended spring training. They're getting a real good look for the guys next year. The speed has been very impressive. Luis Durango, the latest track guy, has been really running around causing trouble. Kevin Correia, seven scoreless innings, picking up his eleventh win, which is a lot of if you would have said that at the beginning of the season. There has definitely been a sea change there and they're playing the kids and thing are looking better and the National League West you can always compete if you're close. The Padres are close, they still need a few pieces in that puzzle now, but at least they are in the right puzzle box if nothing else.
Ray: That's North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris.