Archive for August, 2018

Fear not, a post-Penny letdown will not occur.

I will start with the offense.

Christian Chapman (sr) is the equivalent of a hard working spouse who never misses a day of work, remembers anniversaries and birthdays, enjoys a beer on a hot day and always wears sunscreen.  At times his average passing numbers frustrate me, but I counsel myself with the fact he is mostly mistake free and wins.  This year’s back-up is junior Ryan Agnew (a man waiting his turn if there ever was) or redshirt freshmen Mark Salazar.

Juwan Washington (jr) is a mix of Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny.  A-la Pumphrey, Juwan can do the excuse-me-pardon-me side step routine or he can bowl you over and leave foot prints on your chest.  His choice.  The #2 back is a contest between Chase Jasmin (so), Chance Bell (r-fr) and Kaegun Williams (r-fr).  However, I would not be surprised to see Jeff Horton take a look at freshmen Zidane Thomas and Jordan Byrd during the Sacramento State and Eastern Michigan games.  I find Mr. Thomas to be the most intriguing of all those standing behind Mr. Washington.

For the first time since Rocky Long’s Aztec coaching tenure, a duo of fullbacks may enjoy the smacking of opposing linebackers and defensive backs.  Isaac Lessard (jr) will enjoy most of the snaps.  Chad Woolsey (sr) moves to the fullback spot on behalf of depth, talent and options for Jeff Horton.

And now, the ever under achieving wide receivers.  Hunkie Cooper gets these guys to block like linemen, now is the long overdue moment to get them to CATCH A PASS!  Fred Trevillion (sr) is far too fond of dropping his first attempt.  When Fred did hold on to a Christian Chapman toss, he averaged an eye-popping 27 yards per catch.  Sadly, that happened a mere 12 times in 2017.  Tim Wilson (so) and Isiah Macklin (so) are likely partners opposite Mr. Trevillion.  If these three disappoint, coach Cooper has 13 other wide receivers to choose from in the never-ending attempt to CATCH A PASS!

Speaking of catching passes, thank goodness for tight ends.  Juniors Kahale Warring and Parker Houston form the best tight end duo in the MWC.  Much catching and running forward awaits.

The Aztec offensive line will be the best in conference and top-5 west of the Rockies (in 2019, I will move that claim to the Mississippi River).  Tyler Roemer (so), Daishawn Dixon (jr), Dominic Gudino (so), Keith Ismael (so) and Ryan Pope (sr) will pound, push, shove and smack from left to right.  I expect Nick Gerhard (jr), Kyle Spalding (so) and Zachary Thomas (so) to push for playing time.  Please note, Ryan Pope is the only senior in that sizable (pun intended) group.  Offensive line coach Mike Schmidt sleeps well.

Now to the other side.  Rocky’s side.

Noble Hall (sr) returns to nose guard.  He will be the anchor to the swirl of Damon Moore (sr), Chibu Onyeukwu (sr), Myles Cheatum (jr), Anthony Luke (sr) and Josh Robinett (so).  Look forward to the fury.

The linebacker spot is loaded as usual.  Leading tackler from 2017, Ronley Lakalaka (jr) will start with Kyahva Tezino (jr) and Andrew Aleki (so).  Substantial minutes await Troy Cassidy (jr), Kaelin Himphill (so) and Josh Bringuel (so).  One to watch is Seyddrick Lakalaka (r-fr), brother of Ronley.

The back five will be Parker Baldwin (sr and #2 tackler from 2017), Ron Smith (jr), Tariq Thompson (so and likely candidate to intercept more passes than Damontae Kazee), Jeff Clay (jr) and Kyree Woods (jr) or Trenton Thompson (so).  In the mix is Tayler Hawkins (so), Garett Binkley (jr), Will Stricklin II (so) and Jeff Chaney (jr).  This group is experienced and deep.

The kicking game belongs to the ultra-confident John Barron II (sr).  I do not look forward to his departure at the end of this season.

The punting efforts of Brandon Heicklen must improve in 2018.  Mr. Heicklen was as consistent as a distracted five-year old in the cereal aisle.

Doug Deakin and Richard Sanchez join the coaching staff.  These two gentlemen have the sizable task of keeping the special teams to the considerable level established by Bobby Hauck.  No small duty.

The usual and frustrating challenge of putting butts in the seats remains.  Granted, attendance has improved during Rocky’s tenure.  But, the creep towards averaging a minimum of 35,000 fans is vexing.

Wins will total a minimum of 8 or a maximum of 12.  Consecutive bowl game #9 awaits.

Go, Aztecs.