Preview 2007 - Offense
2007 San Diego
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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
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
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:
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
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
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
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.