Utah State Preview 2006 - Offense
Utah State Aggies
Posted Aug 9, 2006

Utah State Aggies Preview 2006 - USU Aggie Offense

What you need to know ... Seven starters return to an attack that needs an identity after being consistently average all of last year scoring between 21 and 24 points six times. The key is the ground game, which needs far more production from the running backs. JUCO transfer Marcus Cross has to star right away to keep QB Leon Jackson III from having to run 136 times again. The offensive line is big and promising, but it needs work with only two starters returning. The receiving corps is the team's strength with Tony Pennyman and Kevin Robinson two of the WAC's best targets and need to be used more.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Leon Jackson
132-229, 1,547 yds, 8 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Ryan Bohm
92 carries, 340 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Tony Pennyman
63 catches, 741 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Kevin Robinson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior RB Marcus Cross
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Derek Hoke
Best pro prospect: Robinson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Robinson, 2) WR Tony Pennyman, 3) QB Leon Jackson III
Strength of the offense: Receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Backup quarterback, sure-thing running back

Leon Jackson III is a tough veteran who's good enough to carry the offense by himself at times. After a year of starting experience, he should be able to use the weapons around him a bit better and be more effective at keeping the chains moving. Depth is an issue after strong backup Jerod Walker was kicked off the team. That means Bryan Black has to be ready at a moment's notice considering Jackson is a runner and takes plenty of big shots. Unfortunately, Black is a good emergency number three quarterback and not a strong number two, so Jase McCormick needs to quickly develop.
The key to the unit: Leon Jackson III has to cut down on his interceptions on the road and be more effective on third downs.
Quarterback Rating: 4.5

Projected Starter
- Leon Jackson III, Jr. - 132-229, 58%, 1,547 yds, 8 TD, 6 INT, 136 carries, 328 yds, 2.4 ypc, 1 TD.
He's the offense. Jackson has an accurate arm and great mobility finishing second on the team in rushing with an 87-yard day against Utah and a 74-yard outing against Idaho. He got hurt late last season with a shoulder problem and the attack cranked out more points, but he's the leader and the one who'll have to come up with a big season if the Aggies are going to do more in WAC play.

Top Backups
- Bryan Black, Sr.
A pure passing quarterback compared to the mobile Jackson, Black takes over the number two role now that Jerod Walker is off the team. He hasn't seen time over the last two seasons, but he has a little bit of experience completing eight of 21 passes for 71 yards in 2003.
- Jase McCormick, RFr.
He signed in 2002 and then left to serve a church mission. Now he'll battle for the number two job with a good mix of speed and passing ability. He's a smart passer with a decent arm.

Running Backs
Any improvement will be welcome after a brutal 2005 season with the top three running backs combining to net a mere 531 yards. The addition of JUCO transfer Marcus Cross will be a big boost, while sophomore Lynwood Johnson is a rising big back who should see a little more work. Ryan Bohm led the team in rushing last year as a freshman and will be a nice number three back to rely on. Jimmy Bohm was a decent tight end who should be a bruising fullback.
The key to the unit: There have to be more big runs and far more production. Marcus Cross has to be as good as advertised.
Running Back Rating: 4.5

Projected Starters
- Marcus Cross, Jr.
The JUCO transfer has immediately taken over the starting duties after rushing for 1,163 yards and 14 touchdowns for Garden City Junior College last season. He's a speedy 210 pounds who's always moving forward and always gaining positive yards. He'll be a huge upgrade for the Aggie backfield.

- Fullback Jimmy Bohm, Jr. - 5 catches, 33 yds, 6.6 ypc
The 271-pound junior moves over from tight end to fullback to give the backfield a true blocker. He has decent hands and will be used a bit as a receiver, but he won't get any carries. His main job will be to open holes.

Top Backups
- Lynwood Johnson, Soph. - 22 carries, 54 yds, 2.5 ypc, 1 TD, 6 catches, 56 yds, 9.3 ypc
Part fullback and part tailback, Johnson is a big runner who'll combine with Marcus Cross to handle most of the duties. At 228 pounds, he can also line up in the backfield ahead of Cross and be a key blocker. He's also a decent receiver.
- Ryan Bohm, Soph. - 92 caries, 340 yds, 3.7 ypc, 4 TD, 20 catches, 162 yds, 8.1 ypc
Technically listed as a fullback, the 207-pound sophomore is more of a straight-line tailback. He led the team in rushing with a mere 340 yards with a 94-yard outing at Alabama and a 79-yard performance to close things out at New Mexico State. With good speed, he could end up seeing time at receiver after finishing third on the team in catches.

The Aggies are more than set here with one of the WAC's best 1-2 receiving punches in Tony Pennyman and Kevin Robinson. They're both talented and experienced with the ability to do a little bit of everything well. Having a duo like that will allow promising young prospect Nnamdi Gwacham and Omar Sawyer find their way into the mix. There's great depth with Terrell Richards and Otis Nelson able to start if needed. Rob Myers has the potential to be a dangerous receiving tight end.
The key to the unit: Get another great year out of Kevin Robinson and Tony Pennyman while finding time to develop Nnamdi Gwacham and Omar Sawyer.
Receiver Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Tony Pennyman, Sr. - 63 catches, 741 yds, 11.8 ypc, 5 TD
Pennyman has been one of the team's top receivers over the last two seasons with 116 career catches for 1,427 yards and seven touchdowns. He has also been an All-America caliber kickoff returner averaging 29.2 yards per return last season. He's a steady, speed receiver who started off his season with ten catches against UNLV and was consistent the rest of the way.

- Kevin Robinson, Jr. - 43 catches, 661 yds, 15.4 ypc, 8 TD
Robinson is a good-sized, very fast threat as a receiver, kick returner and punt returner with 87 career catches for 1,263 yards and 11 touchdowns, a 14.8-yard punt return average, and a 22.9-yard kickoff return average. He's more explosive than Tony Pennyman, but not quite as steady at the inside Z position.

- Tight end Rob Myers, Soph.
The former wide receiver will try his hand at tight end after bulking up to 236 pounds. He has the hands and the athleticism to be a key target, but the question will be his blocking.

Top Backups
- Nnamdi Gwacham, RFr.
The 6-3, 204-pound Gwacham is a far bigger option than Tony Pennyman at the outside X position. He's a phenomenal athlete who has too much upside not to be on the field.
- Omar Sawyer, RFr.
Sawyer is a small, quick target at the inside Z position. He needs to prove early on that he can handle taking shots across the middle at only 5-9 and 166 pounds.
- Tarrell Richards, Sr. - 11 catches, 116 yds, 10.5 ypc
The former Oregon transfer hasn't quite exploded like expected after destroying the scout team when he first arrived on campus. He has good skills and enough experience to be a decent threat on the outside.
- Tight end Will Fausel, Jr. - 4 catches, 32 yds
Mostly a blocker, the 258-pound junior will be used more in the running game than Rob Myers. He has decent hands, but he's not nearly the type of receiver who'll be a regular in the passing game.

Offensive Linemen
The line has to replace three starters and needs to come up with a starting five that can jell over the course of the season. Malik Cin can play any spot and will settle in at left guard, and big Pace Jorgensen needs to be a rock at right guard. The return of Justin Schlimgen should be a boost at tackle, where Taylor Wallace and Derek Hoke have to improve the team's pass protection. There's decent depth and good size, and now there has to be far more production.
The key to the unit: Continuity. The young line has to stay healthy and get better as the year goes on.
Offensive Line Rating: 4

Projected Starters
- OT Derek Hoke, Soph.
The massive 6-9, 300-pound sophomore started in four games last year before getting hurt. He can play either tackle spot and will open up the year on the left side where he should grow into the team's best all-around blocker. He's too big and strong not to be dominant in the running game.
- OG Malik Cin, Sr.
He has been the team's starting center, right guard, and over the last five games of last season, right tackle. Now the team's most versatile lineman will have to battle to get the starting job on the left side after missing spring ball hurt. At 305 pounds and with three years of experience, he'll be too valuable to keep off the field.
- C Brent DeLadurantey, Sr.
Able to play guard or center, the 306 pound senior was used sparingly last season after starting four game in 2004. The former JUCO transfer will start out at center but will battle with smaller redshirt freshman Brennan McFadden for the job.
- OG Pace Jorgensen, Jr.
Jorgensen has seen time at center but is a more natural guard. He's the team's biggest lineman at 6-5 and 318 pounds and should take back his job at right guard once he's 100%.
- OT Taylor Wallace, RFr.
The promising young prospect will likely take over the starting job on the right side allowing Malik Cin to move to guard. He's athletic and should grow into a good pass blocker. 

Top Backups

- OT Justin Schlimgen, Sr.
Back after missing all of last year, the 299-pound senior will combine with Taylor Wallace at right tackle. The Alaska native has nine games of starting experience and will likely start somewhere on the line by the start of the season.

- OG Ryan Tonnemacher, Soph.
He got plenty of work this spring with Malik Cin out. He has a little bit of starting experience at left guard getting the nod against Louisiana Tech and Hawaii last season and will see more work this year.
- OG Ryan Wilson, Sr.
The former tight end is only 256 pounds and needs to use his athleticism at guard. He's not going to replace Pace Jorgensen on the right side, but he has the talent to see plenty of time.

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