Monday, June 13, 2011

San Diego State Aztecs 2010 Review

San Diego State Aztecs
2010 Record: 9-4 (5-3), Tied 3rd Mountain West
2010 Bowl Game: Poinsettia Bowl, Defeated Navy 35-14

     Brady Hoke built the Aztecs into something special in a mere two seasons. He took them from doormat to conference contender. The only problem with that is that he took that success and turned it into a catapult to Ann Arbor and the Michigan job after the season, leaving SDSU with Rocky Long to run the show. Will Long be able to keep up the pace that was established by Hoke? We certainly are on the edge waiting to find out.
     Long will have Ryan Lindley back at QB for his senior year, and that's a great place to begin. Lindley became one of the strongest QBs in the nation last fall, as he passed for 3830 yards and 28 TDs. He did toss 14 picks, but averaged 32.4 attempts per game, putting him at adavanced risk to toss some picks. Lindley averaged an amazing 294 yards per game last fall, but failed to complete 60% of his passes (57.7).
     Ronnie Hillman was nothing short of spectacular as a freshman for the Aztecs last fall. Hillman cruised to 1532 yards and an astounding 17 TDs. He averaged 5.85 yards per carry, and carried the load just over 20 times per game, making him a true primary threat in the Aztec offense. Brandon Sullivan added 7 TDs on the ground last season, but he departs. Walter Kazee (67-324-3) is the primary backup.
     SDSU had 5 receivers catch 20 or more balls last fall. Vincent Brown was the leader, as he posted 69-1352-10, making him one of the best in the nation. DeMarco Sampson was incredible in his own right, as he posted 67-1220-8. The two combined for 197.8 yards receiving per game on 10.5 receptions. They were followed by Sullivan (26-383-3), freshman TE Gavin Escobar (29-323-4), and Dominique Sandifer (23-263-0). The bad news is that the Aztecs lose both Brown and Sampson.
     As good as the Aztecs were on offense (448.5 yards per game), they tended to be a little loose on defense (351.4 yards allowed per game). The Aztecs lacked big time tacklers on every down, and only had two defenders that averaged over 5 tackles per game in LB Miles Burris, who led the team with 79, and senior safety Andrew Preston, who collected 78 tackles.
     Burris was a beast against the run, as he collected 18 TFLs on the season, one of the best totals in the nation. Only Ernie Lawson, a senior DE, came close to joining him in double figures with 9.5. Burris was by far the sack leader for the Aztecs as well, as he collected 7.5 on the team. Nobody else had more than 2.5. The good news is that the Aztecs had three times as many sacks on defense as the offense gave up (27 to 9). Burris also forced 4 fumbles last fall.
     Two Aztecs really stood out in the secondary, as Leon McFadden and Jose Perez each hit double figures in passes defended. McFadden knocked away 12 balls, while Perez followed with 10. McFadden will return next fall, but Perez has departed. Freshman Marcus Andrews knocked away 5 passes of his own. Andrew Preston led the Aztecs with 3 picks, but he has moved on as well. The Aztecs only intercepted 10 passes as a team all season long.
     Abel Perez had some good moments as the PK last fall. Perez connected on 17 of 22 attempts, good for 77.3%. He also hit on 54 of 56 PATs on the year. He will return in 2011 as a senior. Brian Stahovich is one of the best punters in the nation, and did not fail last fall. He averaged an amazing 45.4 yards per punt on the year, and also returns as a senior next season. The kick return game needs some work, and nothing incredible was going on here last fall.
Final Notes
     The loss of Hoke as coach could really ratte this program. Long had some success at New Mexico, but seemed to give up there his last couple of seasons, and upon leaving New Mexico, claimed that he was done as a head coach, and just wanted to coast out as a coordinator. What changed his mind is beyond me at this point, but either way, this hire is full of risk and intrigue. He certainly has some talent on offense, and there are some very workable pieces on defense as well. Anything could happen.

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