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2009 San Diego State Preview - Offense
San Diego State WR Vincent Brown
San Diego State WR Vincent Brown
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 1, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - San Diego State Aztec Offense

San Diego State Aztecs

Preview 2009 - Offense


- 2009 CFN San Diego State Preview | 2009 SDSU Offense
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2009 SDSU Defense
| 2009 SDSU Depth Chart
- 2008S SDSU Preview |
2007 SDSU Preview
| 2006 SDSU Preview   

What you need to know: New offensive coordinator Al Borges, who was blamed, for right or wrong, for Auburn's offensive inconsistencies a few years ago, but he should do a good job for the Aztec attack. There are plenty of veterans returning and enough experienced depth to hope for an overall improvement, and most of all, it should be more consistent. QB Ryan Lindley struggled to grasp the attack this offseason and needs to work on his accuracy, but he's the passer who'll be the main man for the offense and he has a good group of receivers to work with. Vincent Brown is an excellent No. 1 target, while there's speed and athleticism among the rest of the receivers to stretch the field a bit more. The line is very big and has been groomed for the last few years to be ready to shine now. It'll be good in pass protection, but it has to be far better at blasting open holes for the ground game. The backs are extremely quick and they've been around for a long time, but they have to produce after doing nothing last year.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ryan Lindley
242-427, 2,653 yds, 16 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Atiyyah Henderson
120 carries, 490 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Vincent Brown
64 catches, 631 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Vincent Brown
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior WR Roberto Wallace
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Tommie Draheim
Best pro prospect: Brown
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) QB Ryan Lindley, 3) RB Atiyyah Henderson
Strength of the offense: Experience, Receiver Speed
Weakness of the offense: Running Game, Consistency

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Sophomore Ryan Lindley was a nice recruit for the program a few years ago, and last year he finally got a chance to show what he could do and ended up as the team's offensive MVP after completing 58% of his passes for 2,653 yards and 16 touchdowns with nine interceptions. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, he's a big, strong passer with a live arm, but he's not a runner and he hasn't been consistent. He threw for 433 yards and four scores against Idaho, and followed it up by completing 4-of-8 passes for 37 yards against TCU before getting dinged up late. Now he has to be a steadier leader after a rocky offseason. He's the starter, but the coaching staff won't be afraid to yank him for one of the other promising options if the attack isn't moving.

Projected Top Reserves: Former JUCO transfer and Tulsa Golden Hurricane Drew Westling will provide a little bit of a push for the starting job, but he'll have to be phenomenal to take over for Lindley. The 6-2, 220-pound senior got a start against Air Force when Lindley was out hurt, but he only threw for 128 yards and two picks in the loss and completed just 48% of his throws for 206 yards and the two interceptions on the season. He's a smart passer who knows enough to potentially step in and keep things moving, but he hasn't done enough to be the main man. 

Junior Kelsey Sokoloski is the best rushing threat of the three quarterbacks with nice speed and a decent enough arm to get by. He's mostly been used so far as the holder on special teams, but he has a little experience in the offense completing 10-of-15 throws for 119 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He could be the curve ball thrown into the mix if Lindley and Westling aren't getting the job done.

Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to sink or swim with Lindley. He's the best talent of the three, and while he wasn't great in spring ball and has to prove himself a bit this fall, he's not going to be the problem with the offense.
Strength
:
Veterans in the pecking order. For the second straight year, the threesome knows the order and knows what the roles are. Everyone will be pushing for the starting job, but it'll be up to Lindley to carry the offense and it'll be up to Westling and Sokoloski to be at the ready.
Weakness
: Production. Lindley was fine last year, but he one a few big games and sputtered the rest of the way. He got time to throw, but he wasn't efficient and he didn't make things happen for an offense that averaged just 19.25 points and 312 yards per game.
Outlook: The quarterbacks should be better. Lindley still needs time and he'll need more help from his receivers, but he has the skills to grow into the job and become more of a playmaker. Westling is a decent passing option who can push the ball deep and Sokoloski can move.
Rating: 6

Running Backs


Projected Starters: Junior Brandon Sullivan got his chances last year to be the main man for the running game, and he got three starts two years ago, but he has yet to do much. He was second on the team in rushing, but he only ran for 185 yards and a score and missed almost all of the second half of the season. The 5-11, 205-pounder can catch, making 21 grabs for 205 yards and two touchdowns, and he has a nice combination of power and quickness. Now he has to produce.

6-2, 245-pound senior Matthew Kawulok will be used as a tight end as well as a fullback. He moved into the backfield this offseason after spending last year mostly on special teams while catching 21 passes for 231 yards. A good blocker and a tough player, he'll do a little of everything from the backfield.

Projected Top Reserves: Adding more speed to the backfield is senior Atiyyah Henderson, the team's leading rusher last season with 490 yards and four touchdowns and was second on the team with 36 catches for 228 yards and a score. He has had a few problems staying healthy over the last year, with an ankle injury and a little missed time, but he has been relatively durable over the course of his career considering he's just 5-9 and 180 pounds. He might not be the starter on day one, but he'll get his chances to take over the job. 

5-9, 180-pound Davon Brown has been a good special teamer with the potential to be a speedy option for the rushing game. However, he didn't do much last year before suffering a shoulder injury half way through the season, finishing with just one net yard. The junior has 4.4 speed and can cut on a dime, but the athleticism hasn't translated to the field yet.

On the way is Anthony Miller, one of the stars of the recruiting class and a talent who could be the starter right away. The 6-0, 220-pounder is the most physical option and can tear off yards in chunks. While he's not a speed back like the rest of the Aztec runners, he can move a little bit.

Watch Out For ... a constant search for someone who can run. The line isn't going to provide too much of a push, but the backs are quick enough to be able to make things happen on their own ... allegedly. This will be a true running back by committee approach. 
Strength
:
Quickness. There are good receivers in the backfield and everyone can dart in and out of plays. This group of backs are at their best when they get the ball on the move in open space. 
Weakness
:
Proven production. These guys have been around for a while and the production has been minimal. The team ran for 878 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 3.1 yards per carry. They weren't great this offseason; the opportunity is there for someone to step up and take the job by the horns.
Outlook: The running game has been non-existent for a few years and it's not likely to break out this season. Sullivan and Brown have yet to show anything, while Henderson is a serviceable back who'd be great if he had some blocking.
Rating: 5


Receivers

Projected Starters: Junior Vincent Brown was one of the bright spots in last year's disaster. The team desperately needed a No. 1 option, and Brown turned out to be it finishing with 64 catches for 631 yards and five touchdowns, and while he didn't come up with too many big plays, averaging 9.9 yards per play, he was steady with a few big moments. He ripped up Idaho for 183 yards and three touchdowns on eight catches and made 11 grabs for 40 yards and a score against Colorado State. The 6-0, 185-pounder will start on the X and will get a chance to use his speed to hit a few more home runs.

Taking over for Darren Mougey on the inside Z position will be Roberto Wallace after finishing fourth on the team with 31 catches for 405 yards and a score averaging 13.1 yards per grab. At 6-4 and 215 pounds he has tremendous size with enough speed to be a matchup nightmare. His problem has been staying healthy with a shoulder injury keeping him out all of 2006, but he was fine last season and started to shine through. He could become a star with more passes his way.

6-4, 240-pound junior Alston Umuolo is a tremendous blocker who'll start out at tight end and be more of a part of the passing game. He caught 14 passes for 110 yards, but he has good quickness for his size and is a tough, physical player who could blossom under the new coaching staff.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-10, 175-pound senior Mekell Wesley has the speed to be one of the team's most dangerous receivers working on the X behind Brown and in three-wide sets. He averaged 12.6 yards per grab on 12 catches for 151 yards. One of the team's fastest receivers, he'll also be used as a returner again to get his speed on the move.

6-2, 210-pound senior DeMarco Sampson was a superstar high school talent who has never been able to stay 100%. He only caught 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown last season when he was supposed to be the breakout star. A foot injury that cost him most of the first two years has continued to be an issue, but when he's right, he's quick enough to be a punt returner and is a dangerous receiving option.

Senior Jon Toledo has a toe problem, but the 6-3, 215-pounder has good size and nice athleticism. However, he hasn't done much yet seeing time in just one game last year after serving as a special teamer two years ago. He's not going to blow up, but he should see more action as the key backup behind Wallace on the Z.

6-5, 260-pound senior Tony DeMartinis started out his career as a defensive end, getting a start last season, but he suffered a knee injury and is just now coming back. The 6-5, 260-pounder is tough, athletic, and a good enough blocker to be used on all three downs.

Watch Out For ... Wallace. He has it all with size, quickness, athleticism, and enough playing time to know what he's doing. With Brown the No. 1 target who'll draw away all the attention, Wallace needs to come through.
Strength
:
Speed and experience. Brown is the proven star of the show, while Sampson and Wesley has great speed and the potential to make big things happen deep. Talent might be a question mark, but the raw tools are there. 
Weakness
:
Deep plays. The Aztecs only averaged 10.6 yards per catch with not nearly enough big plays coming after making the grab. With the speed and athleticism available there should be far more done to help out the quarterbacks.
Outlook: The receivers look the part with a good combination of size, speed, and experience. The potential is there for this to be the team's breakthrough unit, but at the very least Brown is a good one to work around. The route running has to improve and the consistency has to be there, but there's a lot to watch out for.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Sophomore Tommie Draheim was supposed to be the starter last year at center but missed the entire year with a shoulder injury. The 6-4, 285-pound sophomore is a good athlete and he has looked like a seasoned veteran in practices, even though he hasn't played yet. Now he'll move out to left tackle where he should be solid in pass protection.

Back at center is Trask Iosefa, a 6-0, 315-pound junior who has 24 starts under his belt and hasn't been bad. He's not the best of run blockers for his size, but he's a good athlete who's fine on the move and is a durable anchor. Now he needs to blast more holes in the middle for the ground game.

6-2, 305-pound Ikaika Aken-Moleta is one of the team's most experienced blockers starting all 12 games at right guard. Ridiculously strong with the potential to be more of a road grater for the ground game, he has all the tools to be the one the offense works behind for the hard yards. He has it all, but now he has to be steadier.

Senior Peter Nelson has been a key factor in a variety of ways working on the defensive side and on special teams before moving over to the O line last year. He started every game at left tackle and was surprisingly good in pass protection. Now he'll move to the right side where he should be far better and far more consistent.

In a battle for the left guard job is Emilio Rivera, a massive 6-4, 330-pound sophomore who spent last year on special teams and got two starts late last year against BYU and Utah. Extremely tough and able to move well laterally, he could be a tackle in an emergency but should grow into the job on the inside.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Mike Matamua is an athletic pass blocker who got away from Hawaii and will be in the mix for the left tackle job. He won't push Draheim out of a job, but he was one of the team's top recruits a few years ago and could find a spot somewhere.  

At 6-7 and 320 pounds, sophomore Kellen Farr is built like a tackle but plays guard. He has had problems staying healthy and he hasn't been able to be a part of the offense on a regular basis. Mostly a special teamer so far, he has the size to push hard for the right guard job.

In the mix for the left guard job is redshirt freshman Alec Johnson, a 6-3, 310-pound prospect who has excellent strength and athleticism for his size to go along with tremendous upside. He'll likely end up playing behind Rivera early on, but he could end up seeing time on the other side if needed.

Watch Out For ... Draheim. A bad shoulder kept him from getting his feet wet at center last season, but with his skills and potential at left tackle, he could end up being the star on the line right away. He needs time, but he should grow into the job.  
Strength
:
Size. If nothing else, this is a big line with good girth on the inside and good athleticism on the outside. The old regime focused most of its recruiting attention on upgrading the line, and this is the year it needs to pay off.
Weakness
:
Run blocking. The pass protection was surprisingly good last year, but the line couldn't provide any push for the ground game. There's way too much bulk and way too much experience to pave the way for a ground game that averages just 73 yards per game.
Outlook: It was supposed to be a year of transition, and it was, but it also wasn't the disaster it could've been. Now there's a ton of returning experience, excellent size, and good potential on the left side and among the reserves. This won't be the Mountain West's best line, but it'll be better.
Rating: 5.5