2007 Utah State Preview - Offense

Posted May 9, 2007

Preview 2007 Utah State Aggies Offense

Utah State Aggies

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Utah State Preview | 2007 Utah State Defense Preview
2007 Utah State Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN Utah State Preview 

What you need to know:
The offense did next to nothing last season scoring fewer than 14 points seven times and finishing averaging 10.83 points and 254 yards per game. The offensive line isn't bad and the starting receivers, led by Kevin Robinson, are solid, but the quarterback situation isn't settled with Riley Nelson out on a church mission, and there's no experience whatsoever at running back after Marcus Cross transferred. Basically, the attack needs to find one thing it can do well.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Leon Jackson
73-150, 694 yds, 3 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Leon Jackson
56 carries, 105
Receiving: Kevin Robinson
36 catches, 582 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Kevin Robinson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior RB Aaron Lesue
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Spencer Johnson
Best pro prospect: Robinson (as a kick returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Robinson, 2) OG Pace Jorgensen, 3) C Ryan Tonnemacher
Strength of the offense: Experienced starting offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
Running back experience, passing


Projected Starter
Let's try this again. Senior Leon Jackson III has been around for the last three years throwing for 2,645 yards and 12 touchdowns while running for 476 yards and a score. However, he has thrown 14 interceptions and has had a nightmare of a time keeping the offense moving. Making his biggest impact last year as a punter averaging 37.7 yards per kick, now he'll give it another try bringing his mobility and experience to the attack.

Projected Top Reserves: While Jackson will probably get the starting job, 6-2, 228-pound junior Sean Setzer will be at the ready to step in considering the overall quarterback situation over the last few years. The JUCO transfer threw for 2,034 yards and 13 touchdowns for Garden City JC last season. He's not the runner Jackson is, but he's mobile and can scramble around the goal line.

Also in the hunt will be sophomore Jase McCormick, a smart passer with a decent arm and a little big of mobility. While he hasn't seen any time yet, he's a mature veteran who signed in 2002 before going on a church mission.

Watch Out For ... Jackson and Setzer to each get equal time throughout the year. Jackson is the one who should end up holding down the job, but the overall results just won't be there. Expect musical quarterbacks.
Strength: Mobility. There might not be a trio of Michael Vicks under center, but everyone can move and everyone can gain positive yards. Plays can be designed to get the quarterbacks running.
Weakness: Veteran backups. With Riley Nelson off on an LDS Church Mission, it's up to Setzer to step in if things go south (assuming he doesn't win the starting job). Of course, if Jackson is the number two, experienced depth isn't an issue.
Outlook: The quarterbacks just have to be efficient. They don't have to throw for 300 yards and five touchdowns a game, but they have to keep the chains moving and get points on the board. Whichever one consistently does the best job of that will see the most playing time. The starting job is wide open.
Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters
It might end up being tailback by committee, but for now the job appears to be Aaron Lesue's for the taking. The former JUCO defensive back was a wide receiver last season catching ten passes for 131 yards, and now he'll move to tailback bringing his good speed, quickness and hands to the backfield. Despite only being 5-10 and 195 pounds, he's a goal line runner.

Trying to pave the way will be 217-pound redshirt freshman Jacob Actkinson, who's one of the faster fullbacks in America. He might not be a blasting blocker, but he can serve as a big tailback and gives the coaching staff plenty of options.

Projected Top Reserves: Lesue is option one, true freshman Curtis Marsh is option No. 1A. The 6-1, 190-pounder came in early to compete in spring ball and showed enough to be listed as a co-starter. He's an extremely athletic speed back who's tough enough to generate a little bit of power.

When the offense needs a bigger blocking option at fullback, 240-pound former linebacker Josh Anderson will step in for Actkinson. He made 11 tackles last year as a reserve, but he's needed more on the offensive side.

Watch Out For ... Lesue and Marsh to be more than adequate filling in for Marcus Cross, who transferred. Cross came in as a much ballyhooed JUCO transfer and only ran for 650 yards and did nothing over the final four games.
Strength: Speed. Lesue and Marsh can move, and now they have to play football-fast, which means they have to be able to wait for the hole, and then fire through it. In the open, they'll be able to crank out some big runs. It'll also help to have a speed fullback.
Weakness: Experience. There's no one, no one, with any real experience running at a D-I level. Lesue ran 15 times for 51 yards, but he was hardly used as a workhorse tailback.
Outlook: The loss of Cross is big, even if Lesue and Marsh should be fine. There's good enough speed to bust off far more big runs if they can ever get into the open, but don't look for big overall numbers. Getting to 1,500 overall yards wouldn't be bad.
Rating: 4


Projected Starters
The team's top two wide receivers return, and as long as there's better overall quarterback play, they should be far better. Senior Kevin Robinson has 123 career catches for 1,645 yards (averaging 15 yards per carry) with 16 touchdowns, but he has made a bigger impact as a punt returner averaging 12.5 yards per punt returns and over 21 yards per kickoff return. He has decent size, tremendous speed, and the potential to hit the home run from anywhere on the field. After catching 36 passes for 582 yards and five touchdowns, he has to do even more.

On the other side is 6-2, 204-pound junior Otis Nelson, who caught 27 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown despite playing with a broken hand. The former defensive back is still growing into the job.

At tight end, junior Rob Myers will eventually be the starter after he gets over a leg injury. He caught ten passes for 125 yards as he turned into a nice playmaker when he got the ball in his hands. The former wide receiver is now up to 6-4 and 240 pounds with the potential to become a major target if the offense calls his number a bit more. 

Projected Top Reserves: There's a little bit of experience among the reserves, but they still have room to grow. Sophomores Xavier Bowman and Nnamdi Gwacham are big targets behind Nelson, while sophomore Omar Sawyer is a quick target behind Robinson. Gwacham is a phenomenal athlete who only caught three passes for 41 yards; he has the potential to do far, far more. Bowman is also a good athlete and a speedster who should stretch the field a little bit after making six catches for 74 yards as a reserve. Sawyer is only 5-9 and 175 pounds, but he tremendously quick as both a running back and a receiver.

At tight end, former fullback Jimmy Bohm will be used in running situations. He caught four passes for 16 yards and a touchdown, but the 286-pound senior is a blocker. 6-3, 268-pound senior Will Fausel will be the likely starter until Myers is back healthy. A part of the rotation for the last three years, he's just a blocker and won't be part of the passing game.

Watch Out For ... the 1-2 punch of Robinson and Nelson to be one of the team's strengths. They aren't going to be enough to keep up in shootouts, but they're the offensive weapons the offense has to go to over and over again.
Strength: Experience. Even the backups have seen enough time to be ready if called upon. Three tight ends will rotate, while more receivers will be used if and when the passing game kicks into gear.
Weakness: Pass catching tight ends if Myers isn't right. If Myers isn't healthy, the tight ends aren't even going to be a consideration in the passing game. Defensive coordinators aren't going to lie awake at night with worry about this group.
Outlook: The key will be to get the ball in the hands of Robinson as often as possible. Getting Nelson in a position to make bigger plays, and use his size around the goal line, would be a nice plus. The sophomore reserves will all see more time and could make a good corps great if one or two allows the coaching staff to go to more three-wide sets.
Rating: 5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
Three starters return up front led by senior Pace Jorgensen, who's been one of the team's rocks up front for the last two years. At 6-5 and 336 pounds, he's a huge, a little too huge, and can play center if needed. He's not going to move much, but he'll be strong for the ground game.

Next to Jorgensen at right tackle will be junior Derek Hoke, a 6-9, 310-pound giant who got a little bit of starting time last year. Staying healthy has been an issue throughout his career, but when healthy, he has the potential to be the team's best blocker.

Junior Ryan Tonnemacher started every game at left guard, and now he'll move to center taking over for Brian DeLadurantey. At 278 pounds, he's not the biggest of blockers, but he's tough to get out of the lineup.

The left side starts with senior Shawn Murphy, a 6-5, 298-pound tackle moving to guard. He started every game last year and turned into a solid pass blocker. An old player who spent two years on a church mission, he's going to be steady again.

Taking over for Murphy at tackle will be redshirt freshman Spencer Johnson, a 6-5, 273-pound athlete who played on his high school tennis team. If he adds a little more weight, he'll be one of the stars of the line over the next few years.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Brannan McFadden saw a little time last season and will be among the team's most versatile blockers. He'll start out at left tackle behind Johnson, but could play center if needed.

There's almost no experience on the rest of the line. 302-pound senior Mike Green brings decent size behind Jorgensen at right guard, while 6-4, 292-pound redshirt freshman Travis Stott will be groomed for a starting spot at left guard behind Murphy.

Watch Out For ... the line to be decent as long as injuries don't strike. There are just enough good players to work around (like Jorgensen and Murphy), and Johnson is a rising star.
Strength: Size. It's a big line with several very big, very old players who aren't going to make a whole boatload of mistakes.
Weakness: Experienced depth. There isn't any. If anyone starts to struggle early on, or gets hurt, the panic sirens will go off.
Outlook: If a solid rotation can form early so the backups can get a little bit of time, this will be a decent front line that'll be strong in pass protection and better than last year at opening holes for the ground attack. Tonnemacher, Murphy and Jorgensen are strong, durable blockers who will be good, but it'll be the play of Johnson and Hoke that'll determine whether or not the line can be great.
Rating: 5


Related Stories
2007 Utah State Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 8, 2007
2007 Utah State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 8, 2007
2007 Utah State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 8, 2007

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