2010 Utah State Preview - Offense
Utah State QB Diondre Borel
Utah State QB Diondre Borel
Posted May 11, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Utah State Aggie Offense

Utah State Aggies

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The offense exploded in the first year under offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin with speed at receiver and an tremendous ground game that finished 20th in the nation. The receivers are small, but they can all fly giving QB Diondre Borel several weapons to work with, while the running game should be great no matter who has the ball. All-WAC star Robert Turbin suffered a torn ACL this offseason and is iffy, meaning lightning-quick Michael Smith and veteran Derrvin Speight will get more work. The line is fine for the ground game and is getting lighter and quicker, but the pass protection needs to be better. The numbers will be there after finishing 12th in the country in yards, but it all depends on Borel staying healthy.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Diondre Borel
214-366, 2,885 yds, 17 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Robert Turbin
207 carries, 1,296 yds, 13 TD
Receiving: Stanley Morrison
33 catches, 616 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Diondre Borel
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior RB Michael Smith
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Eric Moats
Best pro prospect: Junior RB Robert Turbin
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Borel, 2) Smith, 3) WR Stanley Morrison (Turbin would be No. 1 if healthy)
Strength of the offense: Running Game, Yards
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Turbin's Knee


Projected Starter: Senior Diondre Borel was a stunningly good playmaker for the team when he took over the job two years ago, and he came into his own last year completing 59% of his passes for 2,885 yards and 17 touchdowns with four interceptions. Dangerous on the ground, he finished second on the team with 458 yards and six scores including a 105-yard day against Fresno State. At 6-0 and 190 pounds, he's not the biggest of quarterbacks and he'll never be confused with Peyton Manning as a bomber, but he's the perfect fit for what the offense needs. The new coaching staff was a godsend for his talents.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 195-pound senior Jeff Fischer might not be all that big, but he's a pass. The former JUCO star completed 64% of his throws for 2,063 yards with 23 touchdown passes and four picks in his final year at Cerritos JC in California, and he has just enough mobility to get by. He saw mop-up action in one game and didn't throw a pass.

2011 might be about whether or not redshirt freshman T.J. Canales is ready. The clear third-stringer coming into this year, the 6-0, 190-pounder is a bomber who has good quickness and enough athleticism to fit the system. He's more about throwing the ball, even though he doesn't look the part, and he should be solid after another year of seasoning.

Watch Out For … Borel to get to do more for the passing game. He's not big enough to take too much of a pounding, if any, and while it'll be tempting to keep him running, he's too valuable to let him get knocked around.
Strength: Borel. Magical is too strong a word for what he is for the Aggie offense, but he's a talent who makes things happen and is good enough to carry the team to a win or two simply by being better than the opposing quarterback.
Weakness: Backup experience. Fischer hasn't done anything yet at the FBS level and Canales is still green. That's not to say Fischer can't come in and produce, but there will be a drop-off.
Outlook: This is Borel's offense. He had to carry things by himself two years ago, and now he has help around him and should be even more effective. Fisher hasn't seen any real time yet, but he can play, and Canales is a nice option to develop for next year.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: The running game needed more out of the backs, and Robert Turbin more than delivered. The 5-10, 215-pound junior led the team with 1,296 yards and 13 touchdowns has a home-run hitter who could strike from anywhere on the field. He has the quickness to get through the hole in a hurry, and the deep speed to blow past the second level in a heartbeat … when healthy. He ran for 100 yards or more in seven games and went on a scoring tear late with 11 touchdowns (nine rushing, two receiving) in the final five games including an amazing 113-yard, three touchdown, two-catch, 70-yard, two score performance in the season-ending win over Idaho. He wasn't overused last year, getting 207 carries and making 30 catches for 418 yards and a team-leading five receiving touchdowns, and he's not going to be a workhorse this year after suffering an ACL tear in offseason workouts. He's expected to be ready in time for the season, but he's not a sure thing to have the same burst right away.

Projected Top Reserves: With Turbin iffy at best to start the season, if he can play at all, senior Michael Smith might end up being the main man. The 5-8, 195 pounder isn't all that big and he's not going to do anything on the inside, but he can explode when he gets on the move averaging 6.3 yards per carry last year with 290 yards and four scores. The 4.26 speedster was also used as a receiver with 19 catches for 220 yards and two scores and will once again be used in a variety of ways. The former JUCO star can be used as a return man, too.

Senior Derrvin Speight was the team's top runner three years ago with 504 yards and three scores, but he missed all of 2008 hurt and didn't get much of a role last year as the No. 3 running back in the mix. He still ran for 210 yards and two scores averaging five yards per carry, and he added three catches. He's a compact 5-9 and 209 pounds with the build to work well with more carries.

5-9, 185-pound sophomore Kerwyn Williams is another quick Aggie runner who can bust through the hole with a 4.3 40 burst. He got a little bit of work as a redshirt freshman running twice for ten yards, and now he'll be a bigger part of the rotation after Robert Turbin got hurt.

Watch Out For … Turbin to not be ready until the middle of the season. While the freak injury happened in February, it's still asking too much to come back at full strength at less than a year. The coaching staff will likely keep him out until WAC play starts, if he comes back at all.
Strength: Tremendous quickness. Turbin is a difference maker, but Speight, Williams, and Smith can all move just as well and can all cut on a dime. The backs have sub-4.4 warp wheels.
Weakness: Power. There isn't a thumper in the lot and there's almost no short yardage power to count on. This is a group of outside runners that'll need a hole to work through to gain yards inside.
Outlook: The loss of Turbin for any stretch of time hurts, but Smith has the potential to blow up with more of the workload on his shoulders; he can handle the job. Speight and Williams have to play bigger roles, and they should be fine at coming up with big dashes when needed to pick up the slack. The rating is assuming Turbin will miss most or all of the season.
Unit Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters: More passes will be thrown the way of junior Stanley Morrison, a 5-9, 158-pound wisp of a target who led the team with 33 catches for 616 yards and three touchdowns averaging a whopping 18.7 yards per game. While the offense isn't necessarily tailored to the passing game, he's the most dangerous weapon who was used mostly to make one big catch a game when everyone was napping. With too much speed for most WAC corners and too much quickness to not have the ball in his hands, Morrison will get the ball in a variety of ways.

Looking to replace Omar Sawyer as the team's No. 2 receiver is Eric Moats, a 5-11, 182-pound junior who finished fourth on the team in receiving with 27 catches for 400 yards and a touchdown. A good route runner who can make the midrange to deep plays, he averaged 14.8 yards per grab last year and has the athleticism and experience to do even more.

6-2, 198-pound junior Matt Austin didn't get on the field last year but now will see time as a starter. The former JUCO transfer was first expected to see time right away after catching 71 passes for 1,134 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore for Mt. San Antonio JC, but now he has two years remaining and should eventually grow into a No. 1 target.

Back at his role as the starting tight end, when the offense uses one, is Kellen Bartlett , a 6-2, 242-pound junior who made nine catches for 81 yards and was used mostly as a blocker. A smart player who moved over from the defensive line last year, he's still growing into the role.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Austin Adler was a star high school defensive back and kick returner who was supposed to be a major receiving weapon from the start, but only made seven catches for 72 yards last year. Tremendously quick, he can be used in a do-it-all role.

About to play a huge role is top JUCO transfer Dontel Watkins, a 6-3, 200-pounder with sub-4.4 speed. A phenomenal athlete with great size and the potential to be used as a top kick returner, he's a weapon who'll see the field right away and should be a home run hitter.

At 6-3 and 192 pounds, sophomore Mikhail Morgan is one of the team's biggest targets and has just enough speed to get deep from time to time. He only caught 12 passes last year for 111 yards, but he played a bigger role late with five catches in the final two games.

Watch Out For … Morrison to shine. The star of spring ball, he'll be counted on more as a big play producer both as a runner and a receiver. His role will be greatly expanded with the potential to be an All-WAC playmaker.
Strength: Speed. The Aggies have ten receivers who run a 4.6 or better with Watkins coming in with a 4.24.
Weakness: The offense. It's not tailored to a high-octane passing game and the receivers are an afterthought to the ground attack. The receivers have to take advantage of their chances.
Outlook: With the injury to RB Robert Turbin and the expected emergence of QB Diondre Borel as more of a passer, the potential is there for the receiving corps to do far more. Morrison is a potential star who'll come up with big numbers with more work, while Moats, Alder and Austin all have the upside to produce when needed.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The star and the veteran up front will be senior Spencer Johnson, a 6-7, 294-pound left tackle who started every game last year after taking over the job halfway through 2008. Very athletic who spent his high school career as a tennis player before bulking up into an offensive lineman, he's a great fit for the offense and is excellent on the move.

Taking over at center for long-time starter Brennan McFadden will by Tyler Larsen, a 6-4, 298-pound redshirt freshman who's more of a guard prospect but will end up getting a shot to take the middle job for the next four years. He'll be better in a phone booth than on the move, but he's strong enough to be solid right away.

6-2, 298-pound junior Philip Gapelu is back at right guard after starting 11 of the last 12 games. While he's hardly a finesse blocker, he's great for the running game providing decent bulk and good straight line hitting ability. A mauler, even though he's not massive, the ground game can work behind him for the hard yards when needed.

Senior Tariq Polley started eight games last year at right tackle and now will get the starting nod at left guard; a more natural spot for him. At 6-4 and 296 pounds he has good size for a guard, and while he's not all that quick and not great against the pass, he should be great on the inside with enough size and experience to shine in the ground game.

With Polley moving over, 6-5, 295-pound junior Tanner Richins will be the main man at right tackle after taking over the job late last year starting the final three games. Able to play either tackle spot, he's better suited to the right side but will likely take over on the left side next year when Spencer Johnson graduates. He has been a key part of the system as a backup and spot starter for the last three years and should grow into one of the team's most dependable blockers.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Ty Rogers was supposed to be a big part of the rotation, but he only played in two games and wasn't able to make much of a splash. Healthy, experienced, and ready to roll, he'll work at right tackle behind Richins, but at 6-4 and 285 pounds he's a good-sized backup who knows what he's doing.

Junior Funaki Asisi was supposed to be a key starter last year, but he didn't end up playing much of a role seeing time in just three games after starting the year at left guard. Healthy, the 6-2, 292-pound junior should be a big part of the blocking scheme at guard in a rotation with Philip Gapelu. He was a star high school defensive lineman who made the move over to the offensive side when he joined the Aggies, and while he's not quite a finished product, he's very strong and should be good for the ground game.

Watch Out For … Larsen. McFadden was the star of the line and a key part of the offense. Larsen is still a work in progress at center, but he'll be allowed to grow into the job and needs to be a steady blocker right away.
Strength: Run blocking. The Aggies don't have to power over anyone, but they can trap off their men and open up creases to the running backs to work through. It's a stretch to call this a finesse blocking scheme, but the more athletic the line, the better.
Weakness: Pass protection. Part of the sack problem is a mobile Diondre Borel who tries to make things happen that might not be there, but the line didn't exactly help the cause. The Utah State line hasn't blocked a good pass rusher in years.
Outlook: The goal over the last year has been to go from big and bulky to quick and agile, and it's starting to work. The line is full of 295 pounders who could get large with a few cheeseburgers, but will stay smaller to be better on the move. Three starters are back and the run blocking should be fine, but pass protection will still be an issue.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2010 Utah State Preview | 2010 Utah State Offense
- 2010 Utah State Defense | 2010 Utah State Depth Chart
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