Preview 2009 - Offense
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2009 SDSU Offense
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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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.