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San Diego State Preview 2006 Further Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 7, 2006


San Diego State Aztecs Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – A Long way back – Ask anyone affiliated with the game of college football - if there’s one school that could become a power that isn’t currently, wh…San Diego State.  You can’t even get the question out of your mouth before someone points out the opportunity to coach at San Diego State.  Well, nothing like finding ‘opportunity’ at the end of the crimson and cream rainbow, huh, Coach?  The Aztecs took a chance on a hot coordinating prospect from a major power – Chuck Long from Oklahoma.  And, Long couldn’t be in a better no-win, no-lose situation – wait, is that possible?  Most definitely.  No one has been able to win consistently at SDSU, so the question becomes why?  But, on the other hand, no one has been able to win consistently at SDSU.  So, Long could be the first to win or just another coach who took up the head coach’s office.  There might be pressure to produce as most football people expect, but with no real historical foundation to speak of, no real pressure exists on Long.  It’s an interesting, dichotomous situation for the first year head coach.  At Oklahoma, Long was blessed with Quentin Griffin or Adrian Peterson, linemen like Jammal Brown and Vince Carter, a Heisman Trophy QB like Jason White, so he was able to build a reputation behind impressively talented individuals.  But, what may have gotten him this job was his work with last year’s Oklahoma offense that had to find a different way to move the ball consistently with Peterson banged up and a freshman QB.  The learning curve of being a head coach is fairly steep, especially in this situation, but SDSU couldn’t have found a better fit – a former All-American and NFL QB with years of experience as a coordinator at Oklahoma.  If he can recruit the San Diego area and keep some of that talent in the city, who knows to what extent he can build this program.  It’s a different animal, that’s for sure, but Long is the right man for this job at the right time.  His time.  Their time.

2nd and Seven – An Apple-white a day helps put QBs away – Aztec DE Antwan Applewhite is a blur off the edge.  The kid can flat out get it off the edge with his 4.6 speed.  Although he’s only 6’3” and 235, he generates the most heat off the perimeter, which in this conference is paramount to defensive success.  With the varied schemes that SDSU faces, some teams can attempt to neutralize Applewhite with some misdirection spread or option attacks, but with the closing speed, Applewhite can still be disruptive in the opposing backfields.  Former first team All-MWC LB Freddie Keiaho has graduated, so Applewhite has to take over as the defensive star and help lead this defense in 2006.  He’ll have some work to do, considering that the Aztecs gave up an average of 406 yards total offense per game.  But, with another year of experience and his ability to tear up the edge, he should take care of his part, while the talented secondary takes care of their responsibilities.

3rd and Three – President Hamilton – RB Lynell Hamilton has seen it all in his collegiate career.  And, he’s only a junior.  Fantastic freshman season.  Injury that put him on the shelf for a whole year.  And, a triumphant return.  Finally back on the field in 2005, it took him a while before he tapped into the 2003 form that made him a star.  In the final three games of the season, Hamilton averaged 24 carries a game for 124 yards, a 5+ yard per carry average, with 3 touchdowns.  The Aztecs won two of those three games and scored an average of 34 points per game in the process.  So, what does that tell you about the influence that Hamilton has on this offensive team?  With a new offensive scheme to undertake, Hamilton’s role may and should change, but what shouldn’t change is Hamilton’s effect on this offense.  Now fully healthy, Hamilton is a force to be reckoned with and if he sees 24 carries per game throughout this year, he could, and should, be the best back in this conference 

4th and One – The OC – Perhaps no Aztec will reap the rewards of Long coming to San Diego more than QB Kevin O’Connell.  The junior had a strong season in 2005, throwing for 2,663 yards for 19 touchdowns, while also running for 402 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground.  O’Connell doesn’t get a lot of publicity for his dual-threat abilities, but this is a new year and a new offensive scheme.  The offense that Long ran at Oklahoma and the one that offensive coordinator Del Miller ran at Kansas State during his tenure there should fit O’Connell perfectly.  Suffice it to say, the progress that O’Connell can make within this offense is the ultimate key to the season for the Aztecs.  Sure, the defense must improve, but teams are going to score points in this conference, so the Aztecs had better be able to run with the Joneses, so to speak.  That rests on O’Connell’s broad, and capable, shoulders.

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