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2007 San Diego State Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 19, 2007


Preview 2007 San Diego State Aztec Offense Preview

San Diego State Aztecs

Preview 2007 - Offense


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

What you need to know:
Could everyone please stay healthy so we can see what the offense can do? Eight starters return, along with many others with starting experience, but it'll be the ones who weren't a part of the mix throughout all of last year, QB Kevin O'Connell and RB Lynell Hamilton, who'll need to make the offense sing after it finished averaging a woeful 14.17 points per game. Even if they don't backup quarterback Kevin Craft and a host of running backs are good enough to bring more production. The receivers are big and fast, the combination of running backs are big and fast, and O'Connell is big and fast. The line should be fine with plenty of returning experience, so now there has to be real, live production.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kevin Craft
69-121, 737 yds, 4 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Atiyyah Henderson
174 carries, 764 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Brett Swain
47 catches, 528 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Kevin O'Connell
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior RB Lynell Hamilton
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Darren Mougey
Best pro prospect: Hamilton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) O'Connell, 2) Hamilton, 3) WR Brett Swain
Strength of the offense: Backfield
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: When senior Kevin O'Connell is right, he's the type of dangerous all-around quarterback who can carry the team to wins. Limited to just six games last year after suffering an injured thumb, he threw for just 635 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions while finishing third on the team with 155 yards and two scores. While his mobility is a major bonus for the offense, so is his size, checking in at 6-6 and 225 pounds. He's a good leader who'll have to do everything possible to stay healthy, and that might mean giving up the ball more instead of trying to make so many plays happen with his legs.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Kevin Craft came to San Diego State to play for his dad, Tom Craft, but those plans were derailed after the coaching change. Even so, he stuck around and became the main man for the offense when injuries struck with a team leading 737 yards and four touchdowns with six interceptions. While he's not the runner O'Connell is, he's mobile enough to make plays on the move, while he's a tall 6-5, 200-pound passer who can see over the line. Ultra-competitive, he'll get every shot to win the starting job this fall.

6-6, 230-pound junior Darren Mougey will move over to receiver, but he could be used as a quarterback in an emergency. He completed 61% of his passes for 432 yards and ran for 85 yards in his four games with one touchdown pass and six interceptions before suffering a dislocated shoulder that ended his season.

Watch Out For ... O'Connell to be tremendous. He has all the tools from size, speed and arm strength, but he has to stay healthy.
Strength
:
Depth. Craft could easily step in and start without much of a problem, while Mougey is a nice weapon to have if everything else falls apart.
Weakness
: Actual production. It's not like any of the quarterbacks put consistent points up on the board. While it was hardly their fault, the three returning passers combined to throw for a pedestrian 1,804 yards and eight touchdowns with 17 interceptions.
Outlook: O'Connell and Craft will battle for the starting job with each certain to see time throughout the year. O'Connell is the choice to win right now, but Craft is the future, unless top recruit Ryan Lindley goes lights out right away, and could end up taking over if the season starts to go south.
Rating: 6.5


Running Backs

Projected Starters: It'll be tailback by committee with several good options to play around with, but if healthy, and that's a big, giant if, senior Lynell Hamilton will be the main man. A super-recruit who could've gone anywhere, he came to San Diego State with NFL caliber talent but suffered a litany of injuries over his hard-luck career. Last year his season ended after just five games after suffering a knee injury, and he was hurt again this spring. When healthy, he's the Mountain West's best all-around back with 225-pound size, excellent speed, good hands and workhorse ability. He ran for 1,087 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman, missed 2004 with a broken ankle, returned to run for 819 yards and nine scores, and then ran for 145 yards and a touchdown before the knee injury. If nothing else, he'll see time as a fullback.

For now, the starting fullback will be 215-pound junior Tyler Campbell, who transferred to SDSU two year ago and finally got on the field last year rushing for just seven yards with two touchdowns. He'll primarily be a blocker again.

Projected Top Reserves: Until Hamilton is 100%, the tailback duties will fall on 225-pound senior Brandon Bornes, a long-time contributor with 1,199 career yards and ten scores. His production has fallen each of the last three seasons, but with size, experience, power and tremendous speed, he's the total package. He'll see time as a kickoff returner, too.

Also in the hunt for carries will be sophomore Atiyyah Henderson, one of the few bright spots of last year with a team-leading 764 yards and one touchdown to go along with 17 catches for 80 yards. He's the speed back in the mix with the shake-and-bake ability to create his own room.

Another speedster who'll see time is 5-9, 175-pound redshirt freshman Davon Brown, who has 4.4 wheels and tremendous potential. He's too good an athlete to keep off the field and could eventually see time as a defensive back.

Watch Out For ... everyone to get the ball. In a perfect world, Hamilton is getting the ball 25 times a game and he's running like the star he was first projected to be, but the offense will need everyone to pitch in.
Strength
:
Options. The Aztecs have four starting-caliber backs with a variety of talents. The offense can go with pure speed and quickness with Henderson and Brown, or it can go bigger for hard yards with Bornes and Hamilton.
Weakness
:
Reliability. The team simply can't count on Hamilton for a full season. Henderson was great in the middle of the year, but then defenses keyed on him and his production tailed off. Bornes hasn't been the answer over the last two years.
Outlook: There's plenty of speed, flash, dash and talent to rely on, and it'll take a little of everything, and a lot of help from the offensive line, to average more than 119 yards a game. There's too much quickness to not break off more big runs and be far more effective, but it might take a while for the team to find the right rotation that'll work best.
Rating: 7

Receivers
Projected Starters: 6-1, 200-pound senior Brett Swain might not be a star number one target, but he's the team's steadiest veteran receiver with a team-leading 47 catches for 528 yards and two touchdowns last season. He's good at getting down the field and can hit the occasional home run, but his biggest strength is his consistency.

At the inside R position returns 6-4, 220-pound senior Chaz Schilens, who finished second on the team with 34 grabs for 483 yards and two touchdowns averaging 14.2 yards per catch. While he's not a number one, he's a strong complimentary target with two years of starting experience.

The X factor, literally, at the outside X position will be junior Darren Mougey, a quarterback by trade who looked like a natural this spring. At 6-6 and 230 pounds, he's a matchup nightmare.

The tight ends were hit hard by injuries last season, and now it'll be up to the combination senior Steve Schmidt and sophomore Matthew Kawulok. At 6-2 and 220 pounds, Kawulok is a pure receiver who caught four passes for 62 yards when thrown to the wolves as a freshman. Schmidt, at 6-5 and 250 pounds, is a devastating blocker who isn't going to catch anything.

Projected Top Reserves: While Mougey was the talk of spring ball, he's still an unknown meaning 6-4, 210-pound sophomore Roberto Wallace will have to be at the ready. With tremendous size and great speed, he'll soon be a factor in the rotation.

At the W, behind Swain, will be 5-10, 180-pound sophomore Mekell Wesley, who caught four passes for 18 yards last season. He's one of the fastest receivers on the team and will eventually be used as a deep threat.

Trying to get back in the starting rotation will be 6-2, 205-pound sophomore DeMarco Sampson, who had the look of one of the team's new stars when he hurt his toe just before the season started and was out for the year. A phenomenal high school talent, he has all the skills to be a game-breaker at any of the three receiver positions.

In the hunt for time at tight end, eventually, will be junior Lance Louis, a 6-5, 265-pound receiver who has all the skills to be a star. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in spring ball of last year and still hasn't gotten back on the field.

Watch Out For ... Mougey. Swain and Schilens are the veterans the passing game will rely on in a pinch, but Mougey is the one who can turn a good corps into a major plus.
Strength
:
Size and experience. Swain and Schilens only seem like they've been around since Marshall Faulk was toting the rock. Throw the 6-6, 230-pound Mougey into the mix, and the corps is full of big, strong targets.
Weakness
:
Production. As the line goes, looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane. The Aztecs have receivers right out of central casting, but can they actually deliver on a regular basis? Probably, if there's more consistency at quarterback. There was nothing from the tight ends last year thanks to a Spinal Tap drummer-like array of injuries. That has to change with more needed from whoever gets the playing time.
Outlook: This has the potential to go from being a decent group of number two receivers to a top-flight corps if all the experience and all the size and all the speed come together. There's too much raw talent to not be far better than last year, and if Mougey is the answer at the X, Swain and Schilens will light up mediocre secondaries like a Christmas tree.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen
Projected Starters: On a line full of veterans, the one main newcomer to the starting mix will be senior Peter Manuma, a former JUCO transfer who didn't get into the mix last year, but will push for time at left guard. He's not huge at 6-4 and 280 pounds, but he can move.

Next to Mahuma at left tackle will once against be Will Robinson, a 6-6, 280-pound senior who can play either tackle position. He's experienced, athletic, and has grown into his frame; this should be a big year for the team's top blocker.

There will be a combination at center with Manuma getting a long look along with redshirt freshman Trask Iosefa. A bowling ball at 6-0 and 295 pounds, he's a tough, talented blocker who'll be a major part of the line in one way or another for the next four years.

On the right side will be a slew of returning experience led by 6-6, 310-pound senior Mike Kravetz at tackle. It took him a while to get used to being a starter, and once he got the hang of things he had problems with an ankle injury that messed up his entire sophomore season.

If absolutely needed, Kravetz can play guard, but for now, things are set with 6-6, 335-pound mauler Brandyn Dombrowski returning. Just good enough to always win battles for starting jobs, and versatile enough to play either guard spot, he'll start out on the right side but could move to the left to make room for other prospects.

Projected Top Reserves: Whitley Fehoko got work as a true freshman starting six games, but he was relegated to backup status this spring and was rumored to be ready to transfer. While things appear to be fine, he needs to up his overall game a little bit and use his 6-0, 325-pound frame to be stronger for the running game. If he shines in fall camp, he could start on the left side allowing Manuma to play more at center.

If Manuma does move to the middle, that'll mean 315-pound junior Mike Schmidt will get the start at left guard. The walk-on has a few starts under his belt and will be moved around where needed.

The coaching staff went heavy on offensive linemen in the recruiting class, and the best of the bunch is
Michael Matamua. He's 280 pounds with the aggressiveness and fight to play right away, but he needs a lot of refining.

Watch Out For ... plenty of movement. Just about everyone can play a few different positions, and with all the new faces around the program this fall, the idea will be to get the best five linemen on the field no matter what.
Strength
:
Experience. With three starters, and several others who've seen quality time, the line should be more consistent.
Weakness
:
Uncertainty. Yeah, spring ball was great to get everyone some work and to figure out the initial pecking order, but the backup situation could change in a big way once all the new recruits come in. The continuity developed could quickly break apart of some of the new guys prove worthy of early playing time.
Outlook: The line wasn't nearly as bad as it was made out to be at times last year. It was solid, for the most part, in pass protection and occasionally did a decent job for the ground game. Now it has to be better, and more consistent, considering three starters and plenty of good reserves are returning.
Rating: 5.5

 

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2007 San Diego State Preview - Defense
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