2007 Utah State Preview - Offense
Utah State Aggies Offense
Preview 2007 - Offense
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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.
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
Running back experience, passing
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior RB
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Spencer
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
Weakness of the offense:
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Weakness: Experienced depth. There isn't any. If
anyone starts to struggle early on, or gets hurt, the panic sirens will
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.