2013 San Diego State Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - San Diego State Aztec Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know:
New offensive coordinator Bob Toledo should add a little more pop to an attack that all but eliminated the passing game at times over the second half of the year, but was dominant on the ground. Adam Muema returns in the backfield and should have another All-America-caliber season behind a good line with a nice base of veterans returning. Adam Dingwell took over the starting quarterback job over the second half of last season and did a decent job, but he threw a few too many picks and didn't involve the receiving corps enough. Star tight end Gavin Escobar is gone, but wideouts Colin Lockett and Ezell Ruffin should be far more explosive in the new-look offense that will emphasize more downfield passing
Star of the offense: Junior RB Adam Muema
Passing: Adam Dingwell
83-144, 939 yds, 8 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Adam Muema
237 carries, 1,458 yds, 16 TD
Receiving: Colin Lockett
20 catches, 293 yds, 3 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior TE Adam Roberts
Unsung star on the rise: Junior C Zach Dilley
Best pro prospect: Muema
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Muema, 2) OT Bryce Quigley, 3) WR Colin Lockett
Strength of the offense: Running Game, Run Blocking
Weakness of the offense: Explosive Passing, Consistent Quarterback
Ryan Katz took the starting job by the horns last season but was knocked out halfway through. Junior Adam Dingwell, who came into last offseason neck-and-neck for the gig, stepped in and did a decent job going 5-0 as a starter to finish off the regular season – highlighted by the win over Boise State - before struggling in the bowl loss to BYU completing 12-of-29 passes for 144 yards and three picks. The 6-4, 210-pounder was good for a pick a game late finishing the season with seven with eight touchdown passes, while completing 58% of his throws for 939 yards, but he has the size, mobility and arm to do a little bit of everything for the Aztec attack. A good recruit out of Texas, it's been tough to add weight to his tall, thin frame, but he has experience now and should be ready to do even more for the offense.
Senior Jake Bernards is a big 6-5, 215-pound passer with a great arm and enough time in the system to step in if needed. He hasn't seen much work on the field in his career, but he's a very smart, mobile option who'll see mop-up work. He only completed two-of-three passes for eight yards in the spring game, but he had a good offseason. 6-2, 200-pound sophomore Chad Jeffries is the likely main option going into next season with pro-style passing skills and the best speed among the quarterbacks. He had some offers from some Pac-12 schools in the recruiting process, and he hit all seven of his passes in the spring game, but he's the emergency option going into the season.
Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Quinn Kaehler. The 6-4, 215-pounder from Diablo Valley College is considered one of the team's most accurate passers, but he has to change up the way he works having to go under center after spending his JUCO career in the shotgun throwing for 4,044 yards and 38 touchdowns with 12 picks last season.
Strength: Big passers. Jeffries isn't all that small at 6-2, while most of the other options look the part at around 6-4 with good arms and decent mobility.
Weakness: The yards. The offense is changing things around a bit, but last season the running game controlled the offense with the quarterbacks combining to throw for 2,287 yards. The 21 touchdowns were nice, but the 11 picks were too many. Dingwell has to be more careful with the ball.
Outlook: New offensive coordinator Bob Toledo wants to get the passing game going a bit more after it was an afterthought over the second half of the season. Expect more of a vertical attack at times with the completion percentage going up, and now the emphasis will be on getting more out of Dingwell. The depth needs some developing, and it wasn't a plus to lose last year's solid prospect Matt Morin, but overall the quarterback situation should be good as the season goes on.
Unit Rating: 6
A question mark going into last season, junior Adam Muema became a find. While he's not all that huge at 5-10 and 205 pounds, he added around 15 pounds over the last year to go along with his blazing wheels and phenomenal athleticism. He can jump out of the stadium and cut on a dime, and last year he showed he could be a workhorse finishing with 20 carries or more in four of the final five games on his way to a 1,458-yard, 16 touchdown season averaging 6.2 yards per catch. Also dangerous as a receiver, he caught nine passes for 147 yards and a touchdown including a 31-yard scoring play against Hawaii. With 202 rushing yards against San Jose State and 255 yards and four scores against Wyoming, he proved to be too good to not get the ball on a regular basis, and he could get even more work this season.
With Walter Kazee done, sophomore Chase Price will get a much bigger role in the rotation trying to keep Muema fresh. The 5-8, 200-pounder is a scooter with excellent lateral quickness and the type of burst to make Oregon and other good BCS programs want him. He's smart, athletic and a workhorse who fits in perfectly to what the coaching staff is going to want. He only ran for 114 yards and a score, but he's too good to not get the ball in his hands.
Former walk-on Chad Young is now in his third year as the starting fullback growing into a fantastic blocker and an occasional short-yardage receiver, catching 18 passes for 108 yards and three scores while running twice for 13 yards. At 5-10 and 230 pounds he's built and fits well into the Rocky Long offense. He'll be backed up by 6-1, 235-pound sophomore Chris Hokokian, a slightly bigger option with the skills to do a little of everything for the offense.
Watch Out For … Donnel Pumphrey, a fantastic get for the program and the only running back signed in the latest recruiting class. At 5-9 and 170 pounds he's small but very, very fast. The 2012 Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year, he can be used as a kick returner as well as a runner and a receiver. A high school track star, he was a state champion-level sprinter who can hit the home run from anywhere on the field.
Strength: Quickness and speed. You could put together a nice 4x4 relay team of San Diego State running backs. The program recruits to a type getting slippery backs who can zip through a line and bust out yards in chunks. This coaching staff knows how to generate big yards out of their backs.
Weakness: Receiving. There's too much speed in the backfield to not get everyone involved more in the passing game. Muema only caught nine passes to lead the backs, and while they weren't a function of the offense, they need to be used more.
Outlook: Muema is an All-America caliber back, and there are more where he came from. The offense has a slew of fast runners who can average five-plus yards a crack and make the offense go. As long as Price can pick up the slack for the loss of Walter Kazee, another 2,500-yard rushing season is likely for the Aztecs.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The expectation was for senior Colin Lockett to grow into a dominant No. 1 target, but he only ended up with 20 catches for 293 yards and three touchdowns, doing more as a kickoff returner averaging 26 yards per pop with two scores. The 6-0, 180-pound former cornerback led the team with 58 grabs for 970 yards two years ago, but he was never quite right over the second half of last season and he didn't do enough as a deep threat. The speed and skills are there to do far more. He'll be backed up by senior Tim Vizzi, a smallish 5-10, 170-pound speedster who did his most work on punt returns while catching nine passes for 97 yards and a score including a 47-yarder in the opener against Washington. The former JUCO transfer should be a far bigger part of the new offensive scheme.
6-1, 205-pound junior Ezell Ruffin was a top recruit for the Aztecs as a possible running back, but he moved back to receiver and came up with a few big plays last season averaging 18.8 yards per catch making 17 grabs for 319 yards. With good size and phenomenal speed he could've gone just about anywhere – turning down Notre Dame, Nebraska and Tennessee – it's time to use his 4.4 wheels to be a playmaker. He'll work in a rotation with senior Dylan Denso, a former walk-on who worked his way into a job two years ago catching 49 passes for 634 yards and three scores two years ago but making a mere four grabs for 63 yards last year. With good size and nice toughness he's not afraid to go across the middle to make the tough grab and is a smart enough route runner to always be in the right spot.
The Aztecs are suffering a major loss in tight end and now-Dallas Cowboy Gavin Escobar, who led the team with 42 catches for 543 yards and six scores. Junior Adam Roberts will give it a shot after catching just three passes for 23 yards and a score, but has the skills to become a major factor. At 6-3 and 235 pounds he has the size of a bulked up wide receiver with great hands and a world of upside. Adding more bulk is 6-3, 265-pound sophomore Robert Craighead, a defensive lineman who started on the offensive side, switched to the D line and made three tackles, and then moved back to tight end where he has the athleticism to go along with the bulk to be a good part of two tight end sets.
Watch Out For … the new guys. The Aztecs brought in a nice haul of receivers from 6-5, 230-pound tight end Darryl Richardson, a highly sought-after former quarterback from Florida whose future is as a pass catcher, to North Carolina native Christian Cumberlander, a 6-3, 205-pounder who was wanted by Auburn, Florida State and other big names. The best of the lot should be Julius Wilson, a 6-1, 175-pounder with phenomenal athleticism and deep speed. He has No. 1 target written all over him, while JUCO transfer Dominique Bierria has the potential to be a receiving tight end right away.
Strength: Bob Toledo. The passing game went bye-bye over the second half of last season as the offense turned more and more to the running game, but now the receivers will become a bigger part of the attack. The receivers will play a much bigger role.
Weakness: Gavin Escobar. Roberts is a promising tight end, but Escobar is going to be a solid pro with excellent receiving skills and good hitting ability. He was a matchup nightmare who turned into more than just a reliable safety valve.
Outlook: With the bigger emphasis on the passing game, Lockett and Ruffin should become much bigger factors and the deep ball will make an appearance again. The receivers might not be superstars, but with the recruiting class coming in to provide a little depth, this should be a solid group even without Escobar and leading wide receivers Brice Butler and Dominique Sandifer.
Unit Rating: 6
The line took a big step back in pass protection but did a nice job for the running game, and now there's a good base returning to work around led by veteran left tackle Bryce Quigley, a 6-5, 295-pound senior who started out as a big blocking tight end and is still working on the finer points of the tackle position. Very athletic, he has the tools, but now he needs to be more consistent. Also back on the left side is guard Japheth Gordon, a 6-3, 295-pound senior who stepped up into the starting role and showed nice athleticism and good toughness for the ground game. Smart and with good feet, he's quick in the interior.
The big move is at right tackle where 6-5, 295-pound junior Zach Dilley is going back to his more natural center position. Extremely versatile, he was a nice offensive tackle recruit and did a decent job last year, but he'll be better in the middle where he'll make the job his for the next two seasons in place of the solid Alec Johnson. He'll be backed up by 6-5, 270-pound sophomore Jordan Smith with blasting run blocking upside. While he's built like a tackle, he's a center.
With Dilley moving, 6-7, 285-pound sophomore Paul Rodriguez is stepping in at right tackle after spending last season as the top backup. Very tall and very athletic, he has the combination of the right feet and the frame that makes him tough to get around. He could move to left tackle without a problem if anything happens to Quigley.
Also looking to make an impact in a starting role is 6-5, 315-pound redshirt freshman Nico Siragusa at right guard in place of longtime starter Nik Embernate. With great bulk and tremendous strength, he's an emerging force who's still learning the finer points of the game after playing just a few years in high school. He might be a work in progress, but with his bulk and raw tools there's a world of upside. He'll be backed up by JUCO transfer Lenicio Noble, a 6-2, 285-pound versatile option who can play either center or guard. Wanted by LSU and Arizona State, he was a nice pickup for the depth of the Aztec line.
Watch Out For … Sergio Phillips, a 6-2, 280-pound center who doesn't make mistakes with sound technique and good skills. He needs to get a little bit bigger, but he's eventually going to be the starter and leader of the front five.
Strength: Run blocking. This is an athletic group that has adapted to what Rocky Long wants. Long's New Mexico teams had gigantic blockers, but he inherited a smaller, quicker group. It all worked well for the running game, but …
Weakness: Pass protection. After a fantastic year of keeping the quarterback upright, the Aztec line struggled a bit last season allowing 35 sacks and not being consistent enough. It might take a little more work to find the right combination.
Outlook: It was a rebuilding season, and it showed for the passing game. However, as the season went on the line got stronger and stronger for the ground attack and it should be fantastic again. The depth needs to be developed and there's plenty of concern about the right side, but Rocky Long knows how to get the most out of a line.
Unit Rating: 5.5
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