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2007 San Diego State Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 19, 2007


Preview 2007 San Diego State Aztecs Preview

San Diego State Aztecs

Preview 2007


By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 SDSU Offense Preview | 2007 SDSU Defense Preview
-
2007 SDSU Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN San Diego State Preview 

Did San Diego State colossally underachieve again, flat-out stink, or was it rebuilding in Chuck Long’s first year at the helm? If possible, it was a little of all three.

The hard-luck program of the Mountain West never quite put all the pieces together under former head coach Tom Craft, and while there wasn’t the splash last year many long-suffering Aztec fans were thinking it would be, there’s hope that it was the first step back to respectability.

Head coach: Chuck Long
2nd year: 3-9
Returning Lettermen: 41
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best SDSU Players
1. QB Kevin O'Connell, Sr.
2. LB Russell Allen, Jr.
3. RB Lynell Hamilton, Sr.
4. DT Nick Osborn, Sr.
5. RB Atiyyah Henderson, Soph.
6. WR Brett Swain, Sr.
7. LB Brett Martin, Sr.
8. SS Ray Bass, Sr.
9.  RB Brandon Bornes, Sr.
10. WR Chaz Schilens, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
3-9

Sept. 1

at Washington St

Sept. 15

at Arizona State

Sept. 22

Portland State

Sept. 29

Cincinnati

Oct. 6

at Colorado State

Oct. 13

at Utah

Oct. 20

New Mexico

Oct. 27

BYU

Nov. 3

Wyoming

Nov. 10

at UNLV

Nov. 17

at Air Force 

Nov. 24

TCU

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
4-8
2006 Record:
3-9
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 UTEP L 34-27
9/16 at Wisconsin L 14-0
9/23 Utah L 38-7
9/30 at San Jose St L 31-10
10/7 at BYU L 47-17
10/21 Air Force W 19-12
10/28 Cal Poly L 16-14
11/4 at Wyoming L 27-24
11/11 UNLV W 21-7
11/18 at TCU L 52-0
11/25 at New Mexico L 41-14
12/2 Colorado State W 17-6

Problems at quarterback, and the loss of RB Lynell Hamilton to yet another injury, killed the hope for a little bit of consistency, but the real problem turned out to be the little things. The Aztecs didn’t generate any pass rush, was horrible in the return game, lousy on third downs and worst of all, didn’t come up with any points.

Long was known for putting together high octane attacks at Oklahoma, but his offense only scored more than 20 points in three games and was held to 14 or fewer in six games. Things can only get better, and they will with all the skill players back, veteran reserves who got thrown to the wolves last year, and some of the league’s more promising playmakers. In other words, there’s no excuse for another disaster. Defense is a different story some rebuilding to do from a group that wasn’t consistent whatsoever and needs to find an identity.

It’s been eight years since San Diego State had a winning season, the last bowl game was in 1998, and the program hasn’t been even close to sniffing a conference title of any kind since it won the WAC in 1986. There aren’t any big expectations after the program disappointed time and again, so with the bar set relatively low, this could be one of the league’s surprise teams if there’s any sort of offensive production. Long is too good an offensive coach for things to be that bad again.

What to watch for on offense: Injuries. If healthy, the Aztec skill players are as good as any in the Mountain West. If healthy, Lynell Hamilton has NFL first round talent in a body that isn’t giving him any luck. 6-6, 225-pound QB Kevin O’Connell is a difference maker who can do a little of everything well, and receivers Chaz Schilens and Bret Swain have the potential to be a deadly 1-2 punch. While reserves like sophomore back Atiyyah Henderson and quarterback Kevin Craft got experience last year and can step in if needed, the Aztecs need their frontline guys on the field. 

What to watch for on defense: An attempt to generate a pass rush. Even with a good speed rusher like Antwan Applewhite cranking out seven sacks, there wasn’t any help from the rest of the defensive line and not nearly enough overall pressure on the quarterback. The secondary did an amazing job considering the team only came up with 15 sacks and rarely made quarterbacks hurry, but there won’t be nearly the same production with three starters have to be replaced in the defensive backfield.

The team will be far better if … it finishes drives with points. The offense wasn’t always awful; it just didn’t score. Having some consistency at quarterback is step one, while having some sort of go-to player, like a back like Hamilton, might turn out to be even more important. The more the offense can crank out long drives to keep the mediocre defense off the field, the better.

The Schedule: For a good team, the schedule isn't all that bad. For a program looking to build something in the second year of a new coaching era, it's not great. The first half of the season isn't exactly conducive to a big start with four away games in the first six facing Washington State, Arizona State, Colorado State and Utah. If that wasn't enough to give the Aztecs a hard time, the first three D-I home games are against Cincinnati, New Mexico and BYU, who'll all likely finish the year in a bowl. Wyoming and TCU have to make the trip to San Diego wrapped around a two-game road stretch against UNLV and Air Force.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Lynell Hamilton. Is this finally the year everything comes together and Hamilton lives up to his potential? He has the size, the speed, and the talent to be a superstar, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy with a variety of injuries over the last few seasons. When he’s right, he can be the best back in the league. However, he needs the line to be better and he needs to finally get a little bit of luck.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Russell Allen. The team's leading returning tackler is solid against the run and good at getting into the backfield. Now he has to do more against the pass, and he has to be a more disruptive force. He has the experience and the speed, but he needs to play at an all-star level to make up for the lack of experience elsewhere.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore DE Tony DeMartinis. Even with an All-Mountain West end like Applewhite, the Aztecs had a nightmare of a time getting into the backfield. Now that he’s gone, DeMartinis, who looks the part with the size and athleticism to grow into something special, has to take over and be a consistent threat to hit the quarterback. If he isn’t great, teams will load up to block Osborn.

The season will be a success if ... the Aztecs win six games. They won three with a slew of injuries and consistency problems, and now the second-year coaching staff appears to have things more settled with a ton of returning experience and a few good playmakers to finally start to keep up with the better teams. It’ll take a few big upsets and a couple of tough road wins to get to the .500 mark, but it’s possible.

Key game: Oct. 6 at Colorado State. SDSU closed out the year on a high note beating the Rams 17-6. In this year’s Mountain West opener, a third win in a row would be a big help to get through the early part of the season with a trip to Utah and home games against New Mexico and BYU to follow. A win would show how just far the program has come from last year.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: San Diego State 71 for 620 yards – Opponents 51 for 430 yards
- Punt return average: Opponents 10.3 yards– San Diego State 5.8 yards
- 3rd down conversion percentage: Opponents 73 of 164 (45%) – San Diego State 55 of 162 (34%)

 

Related Stories
2007 San Diego State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 19, 2007
2007 San Diego State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 19, 2007
2007 San Diego State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 19, 2007








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