2008 San Diego State Preview - Offense
San Diego State WR Darren Mougey
San Diego State WR Darren Mougey
Posted May 16, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - San Diego State Aztec Offense

San Diego State Aztecs

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 2008 CFN San Diego State Preview | 2008 SDSU Offense
2008 SDSU Defense
| 2008 SDSU Depth Chart
2007 CFN San Diego State Preview
| 2006 CFN San Diego State Preview 

What you need to know:
The offense last year was Kevin O'Connell, Kevin O'Connell, and Kevin O'Connell. His departure leaves a gaping hole at quarterback where three untested prospects will battle it out for the job, with Ryan Lindley the most likely winner. Quarterback is the least of the problems. The running backs and receivers have little overall experience, but they're extremely promising and will be good if the other parts of the puzzle are fine. The big issue is a line that was awful last year and now will throw four new starters to the wolves with three of them redshirt freshmen. Basically, the offense has to find something it can do well without O'Connell.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kelsey Sokoloski
10-15, 119 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brandon Sullivan
58 carries, 220 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Darren Mougey
32 catches, 368 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Brandon Sullivan
Player who has to step up and become a star: The entire offensive line
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Davon Brown
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Darren Mougey (as a tight end)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Sullivan, 2) Mougey, 3) WR Vincent Brown
Strength of the offense: Youth, potential
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, experience, production


Projected Starter: A good recruit for the program two years ago, 6-3, 205-pound redshirt freshman Ryan Lindley has started to show signs of becoming the quarterback of the program for the next few years. He made several mistakes this spring, and wasn't consistent, but he was able to do just enough to be the lead dog in the starting quarterback race. He has a big arm and the smarts to read defenses in a hurry, but he's not going to be a runner like Kevin O'Connell was.

Projected Top Reserves: Entering into the mix is JUCO transfer Drew Westling, a former Tulsa Golden Hurricane who got into school early and is deep in the hunt for the starting job. A smart, accurate passers, the 6-2, 220-pound junior has to be consistent, and he has to start moving the offense better in practice, to overcome Lindley's upside.

After serving as the prime backup last year, 6-2, 195-pound sophomore Kelsey Sokoloski completed 10 of 15 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Unlike the other quarterback options, Sokoloski can move a bit running for 20 yards in his limited appearances and adds a rushing threat the offense will be missing. He's also the holder on special teams.

Watch Out For ... a three-way battle for the starting job throughout the early part of the fall. None of the three took the starting job by the horns this off-season. It's there for the taking.
Potential. Even with the overall lack of experience, there isn't a bad mix of talents to work with. Lindley is the future and he needs some seasoning, Westling is the mature JUCO transfer, and Sokoloski has been in the system long enough to know what he's doing.
: Production. None of the three options did much this spring to inspire any confidence. There were some decent moments here and there, but there wasn't much in the way of consistency.
Outlook: Last year the Aztecs had Kevin O'Connell (who graduated and is off to the NFL), Kevin Craft (who transferred to UCLA), and Darren Mougey (who became a key receiver). Now the quarterbacks are starting from near-scratch and there isn't a sure thing in the bunch. Normally, the job would be Lindley's and the team would live through the mistakes, but Chuck Long doesn't have that kind of time. That might mean a case of musical quarterbacks to try to find some steady production.
Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Sophomore Brandon Sullivan saw plenty of action in the rotation and got three starts, but he didn't do too much finishing with just 220 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. However, he turned into a nice receiving threat out of the backfield catching 18 passes for 119 yards. At 5-11 and 220 pounds, he has good power and a good burst once he gets into the open. He has the starting job by a hair going into the fall, and showed enough this spring to carry the workload, but he'll at the very least be part of a rotation.

6-0, 220-pound senior Tyler Campbell, the son of Texas legend, Earl Campbell, is a former JUCO transfer who's used as a fullback whenever the offense calls for one. Primarily a blocker, he ran for six yards and served as a key special teamer. He won't see the ball, but he'll be one of the team's best all-around special teams performers.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Atiyyah Henderson is a speed back who led the team with 764 yards as a freshman. Last year he was lost in the shuffle and only ran for 183 yards and a score, but he became more of a receiving threat with 27 catches for 202 yards. At 5-9 and 185 pounds, he's a speed back in the mix with the shake-and-bake ability to create his own room. Now he has to be 100% after having problems with an ankle injury this spring.

The biggest plus out of spring ball was the play of sophomore Davon Brown, a 5-9, 175-pound mighty mite who has 4.4 speed and phenomenal athleticism. More than anything else, he showed this spring that he has the ability to pound it between the tackles when needed. Tougher than his size, he could grow into the team's most dangerous runner after only gaining 20 yards, with a touchdown, and averaging 1.7 yards per carry.

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 ... Brown. Hurt early this off-season, Brown came on late and looked like the best back of the bunch by the end. With his home run hitting ability, he'll be too good to not get the ball in his hands at least ten times a game.
Potential. Somewhat quietly, this will be a good group of backs with Brown and Henderson adding speed and flash to the pounding and potential of Sullivan. Now they need some blocking to give them a chance.
Proven production. It's not like these guys tore it up when they got their opportunities. For all of their talent and athleticism, they haven't done much yet and have to show from day one that they can balance out the offense. They have to produce from the start with so many concerns at quarterback.
Outlook: Former quarterback Kevin O'Connell led the team in rushing last year and he only gained 408 yards. The Aztecs gained a mere 1,247 yards averaging 104 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry, and that can't happen again. There's good promise with Sullivan and Brown playing well in spring ball and Henderson a decent veteran who can carry the ground game for stretches, but not for a full season.
Rating: 6

Projected Starters: The offense desperately needs a number one target to emerge, and sophomore Vincent Brown could be it. The 6-0, 175-pounder finished fourth on the team with 31 catches for 349 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman and also turned into a nice kickoff returner. With good flash and home run hitting ability, he can play the X position but will start at the R, an inside spot in the Aztec offense.

At a combination of tight end and receiver is Darren Mougey, a quarterback by trade who made the successful transition to the receiving corps making 32 catches for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He was a steady, tough target over the first half of last year before getting hurt. At 6-6 and 225 pounds, he's a big receiver who knows what he's doing and could go back under center in an absolute hurry. While he's not a blazer, he does enough to get down the field.

5-10, 175-pound junior Mekell Wesley could be the team's breakout target after catching just one pass for 17 yards in a disappointing year. One of the team's fastest receivers and a good kickoff returner, he needs to start stretching the field and become the playmaker who changes games.

The Aztecs like to employ two tight end sets all the time meaning there's plenty of work for junior Matthew Kawulok and junior Tony DeMartinis. Kawulok suffered a torn pectoral muscle and was limited throughout last year making just one catch in seven games. At 6-2 and 235 pounds he's built like a fullback but is a receiver. DeMartinis is a former defensive end with 16 career tackles, and now he'll bring his athleticism and toughness to the offense.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-4, 210-pound junior Roberto Wallace was supposed to be a major factor last year with Mougey still getting his feet wet, but it didn't happen. With just six catches for 72 yards, and 6-4, 215-pound Wallace didn't do nearly as much as he should've, and now he needs to push for time at the outside X position behind Wesley.

Also trying to get back in the mix is 6-2, 210-pound junior DeMarco Sampson, a superstar high school talent who has never quite been healthy. Appearing to be ready to breakout as the team's star last year, he suffered a foot problem and he's finally getting back in the mix. If he's right, he's the star the receiving corps desperately needs.

Until DeMartinis is ready at tight end, 6-3, 220-pound sophomore Alson Umuolo will see time as a veteran target who caught six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. While still raw, he's physical and has tremendous upside.

Watch Out For ... the corps to be solid. There might be some major losses from last year's good corps, but the new starters appear to be ready to shine. This should be the strength of the offense in time.
Speed and potential explosion. Wesley and Brown should be able to stretch the field and is Sampson and Wallace can get on the field, they'll push the passing game deep, too. Mougey will make plays all over the place.
A proven number one. This will work itself out in a hurry, but losing the combination of Brett Swain and Chaz Schilens isn't a plus. These two were one of the team's bright spots.
Outlook: With all the issues at quarterback and the inexperience in the running game, the good-looking receivers have to play up to their potential from day one. Brown, Mougey and Wesley might not be too scary on paper, but they'll be effective. If Sampson is healthy, and if he's half as good as his prep hype, and if Wallace can use his measurables to create a matchup nightmare, this could be a dangerous corps that makes the quarterback shine.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen
Projected Starters: Senior left guard Mike Schmidt started every game last season and was serviceable, if not impressive. The 6-2, 310-pound former walk-on is versatile enough to move anywhere on the line and is one of the team's most physical blockers. As the only returning starter, he'll have to be the leader.

Taking over for Will Robinson at left tackle will be 6-4, 280-pound redshirt freshman Mike Matamua, an athletic pass blocker who slipped out of Hawaii's grasp and will now be in a battle for the key spot on the line. Replacing Robinson won't be easy, but Matamua was one of the team's top recruits last year and has the talent to quickly become a major producer.

Stepping in for Mike Kravetz and right tackle will likely be Kurtis Guenther, a 6-8, 270-pound redshirt freshman who showed good promise right away and has the athleticism and skills to become a fixture for the next few years. He was almost thrown to the wolves last year, but took a redshirt.

The anchor of the young line will be 6-4, 275-pound redshirt freshman Tommie Draheim at center. Of all the newcomers to the starting spots, he was the one who looked most like a seasoned veteran with good toughness and consistency. Now it all has to translate to the regular season.

Amidst all the redshirt freshmen, junior Ikaika Aken-Moleta is an older starter as he takes over at right guard. At 6-2 and 325 pounds, he's a huge blocker who saw a little time last year as a reserve and could grow into a key road grater for the running game. With a tremendous blend of size, quickness and strength, he has all the tools. Now he has to use them.

Projected Top Reserves: An interesting prospect at right guard, behind Aken-Moleta, is senior Lance Louis, a top tight end prospect who tore his ACL and was out last year. At 6-3 and 285 pounds, he'll be tried out on the line where he'll bring tremendous athleticism, but can he be physical enough?

Pushing for the starting center job is sophomore Trask Iosefa, a 6-0, 300-pound athlete who started every game last year with mixed results. He has experience and he's a good athlete, but Draheim is the future at the position.

While Gunther is an option for both tackle jobs, 6-7, 320-pound redshirt freshman Kellen Farr is a right tackle who'll fill in if needed. With excellent size, he looks the part, but he's likely a pure reserve this year or a fill-in if injuries hit.

Watch Out For ... a year of major transition. At least three redshirt freshmen will be starting with everyone trying to figure out what they're doing. It might take a while, but the payoff could be huge ... in two years.
Size. If nothing else, this is a big line with good girth on the inside and good athleticism on the outside. The line was a major recruiting focus over the last few seasons and now it has to show.
Experience. The one starter who'll get the nod this year, Schmidt, isn't exactly a world-beater. This group will have to take several major lumps before it starts to jell.
Outlook: Uh oh. The line was full of veterans last season and was supposed to be the wall the entire offense could work around. It didn't happen with no run production and problems in pass protection. Now this could be the team's most glaring weakness until the young players grow up in a big, big hurry. While this could be a stepping-stone season to a strong future, the line could be a total disaster this year.
Rating: 5