2014 San Diego State Aztec Football Preview

Posted: August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Offense

Quarterbacks:  Anytime productive, returning starting quarterbacks return, bonus points await.  Quinn Kaehler will notably improve upon last year’s numbers.  Bob Toledo has stated that he intends to add many a layer to this year’s offense.  Mr. Burns may as well add another hound.  Warren Buffet may as well want to make more money.  Kaehler will average better than 35 attempts this year and more than 300 yards a game.  Aztec receivers will be most pleased.  More on the receiving corps later.  Nick Bawden named the back-up to Kaehler was a surprise.  On behalf of all, may Mr. Bawden see nothing more than mop up work deep into the fourth quarter during 2014.

Running Backs:  Listening to Donnel Pumphrey explain during a recent 1090 broadcast that he had “put on weight” only to land at 170 pounds was worth a laugh.  Donnel will never take an extended defensive pounding, but he can run, he can turn a corner and as Ted Leitner will say many a time during Donnel’s Aztec years:  “He’s gone!”  The partner back, whether Chase Price or Marcus Stamps, will be a bruiser.  Lucky Radley (the Utah transfer) may well offer a surprisingly productive single year as an Aztec.  Adam Roberts may not block as well as Chad Young (who does?), but Adam will tuck away many a short pass from Kaehler at a key time to keep a drive alive or slide over the goal line.  Both back ups, Dakota Gordon and Chris Hokokian, are juniors looking to impress for 2015.

Receivers:  I include tight ends with the tall skinny guys.  Ezell Ruffin should have a mammoth year.  Sure, he’ll suffer many a double team, but with Toledo’s decision to enhance all things offense, a double team will cost the opposition as much as one-on-one with Ezell.  Larry Clark, Eric Judge, Jemond Hazely, Robert Craighead and Daniel Brunskill bring experience.  Paul Pitts and Lloyd Mills are the best of the rest in waiting.

O-Line:  Compared to last year’s hand wringing at this time, seems the Aztecs do not have much concern.  Size is important, but more so quick feet.  Terry Poole (310 lbs), Nico Siragusa (325 lbs), Darrell Greene (315 lbs) and Pearce Slater (335 lbs) are reported fine dancers.  The “light” Zach Dilley (a mere 295 lbs) will snack his way to the triple hundred club.  Paul Rodriguez, Jordan Smith and Garrett Corbett are experienced and too far down the depth chart.  Alas, Rocky believes in daily competition.

Defense

D-Line:  I’m a bit flummoxed at the concern.  I see five guys with experience.  Perhaps too much is made of Dontrell Onuoha as the only returning starter and Cody Galea’s switch to the linebacking corps.  Jon Sanchez, Sam Meredith, Alex Barrett and Kenny Galea’i played effectively last year.  Truly a group that improved as the season wore on.  I look for a jump in sacks and general knock downs from this group.  To think, if Christian Heyward ever realizes his health and potential, this group could be imposing.

Linebackers:  How quickly strength can become weakness.  With Jake Fely and Josh Gavert out until who knows when, Derek Largent indeed becomes the old man.  Galea, while new to the linebacking position, brings three years of experience into the 2014 season.  Rocky has stated that Galea will occupy a pseudo line position at the start of each snap, thus modifying the 3-3-5, but this strikes me as an opportunity for Rocky to be creative.  Fred Melifonwu, Calvin Munson, Mich Seau and Devante Davis will be busy.  Many a true freshmen (four are listed on the 8/12/14 depth chart) may receive a swift introduction to division one football.

The Last Five (or commonly known as the defensive backfield in other programs):  The safety concerns are well-known.  I expect a burn or two especially against UNC and the Beavers.  Hopefully, whatever is given away defensively can be recaptured offensively.  Regardless, Na’im McGee does bring juco experience and Trey Lomax is backed up by the experienced TJ Hickman.  Malik Smith and Pierre Romain will one-two the other Warrior spot until one out plays the other.  J.J. Whittaker and Damontae Kazee will be the best corner duo in the MWC by season’s end.

Special Teams and the Rest:  McMorrow’s fall from grace continues.  Joel Alesi keeps the punting job.  Newcomer Danny Hageman is the kicker . . . for now.  McMorrow lingers behind both.  The kickoff and punt returns will be the usual exercise in control and fumble avoidance, but I can’t wait to see Marcus Stamps return a kickoff with a head of steam underway.  Cleats will fly.  Jeff Overbaugh is back for year three as the long snapper.  The best compliment one can give a long snapper is only senior long snappers receive mention as the draft approaches.  We will hear much about Jeff next year.

A note of caution.  The shortcoming that drove me crazy last year was the defense taking the first half to get in game mode.  Granted, Rocky always makes the halftime adjustment, but this year, I’d much rather enjoy the sight of a finely tuned defense game ready at the coin flip rather than the first minute of the second half.

Prediction:  Best case, 10-2.  Worst case, 8-4.  Another bowl game either way.  The offense averages near 450 yards per game.

May health be an Aztec blessing.

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