#32 San Diego State Football 2016 Preview

San Diego State Aztecs
Overall Rank: #32
#2 Mountain West
San Diego State cruised through the Mountain West last season. They went 8-0 in Mountain West action and then went on to beat Air Force in the conference championship game and Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl. The 11 win season ties a program record and with ten wins in a row to close the season, few teams have as much momentum heading into the 2016 campaign.
2015 Record: 11-3, 8-0
2015 Bowl: Hawaii Bowl vs. Cincinnati (W 42-7)
Coach: Rocky Long (43-23 at San Diego State, 108-92 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Horton
Defensive Coordinator: Rocky Long
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Donnel Pumphrey, RB, 1,653 yards
Passing: Christian Chapman, QB, 436 yards
Receiving: Mikah Holder, WR, 439 yards
Tackles: Calvin Munson, LB, 98
Sacks: Calvin Munson, LB, 9.5
Interceptions: Damontae Kazee, CB, 8
Other Key Returnees: OL Nico Siragusa, LB Na’im McGee, S Malik Smith, DE Alex Barrett, DE Kyle Kelly
Key Losses: RB Chase Price, QB Maxwell Smith, OL Pearce Slater, LB Jake Fely, DT Christian Heyward, DE Jon Sanchez, DB JJ Whittaker
The Aztecs had one of the best defenses in the county last season. The unit ranked fifth in the country in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. Those are tough numbers to live up to. Cornerback Damontae Kazee is the reigning defensive conference player of the year after recording 75 tackles and eight interceptions. He is a huge reason why San Diego State had the best turnover margin in the country. With safety Malik Smith, who totaled 77 tackles with five interceptions, the SDSU secondary is in great shape. Linebacker Calvin Munson certainly helps too. He tallied 98 tackles, including 9.5 sacks and 15.0 tackles-for-loss. With seniors Na’im McGee, Randy Ricks and Austin Wyatt-Thayer back in action as well, the Aztecs are loaded with experience at linebacker. The line is talented too with ends Alex Barrett and Kyle Kelley leading the way. The offense will again be led by superstar running back Donnel Pumphrey. Last season he rushed for 1,653 yards and 17 touchdowns and three starters are back on the line so expect another huge year from Pumphrey.
The offense could be so much better if the passing game was more effective. Christian Chapman will take over the quarterback duties after playing a handful of games last season. In his limited action, Chapman completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 436 yards and two touchdowns. San Diego State does not need to be great at quarterback, but he does need to at least be a threat to throw the deep ball on occasion. Pumphrey was the team’s top receiver too with 28 receptions, so some wideouts need to step up and help out Chapman. Mikah Holder will be the beneficiary if Chapman can get the ball down field. He is a big play receiver who caught 24 passes for 439 yards and six touchdowns. Somebody else needs to step up though and become a consistent target.
The Bottom Line:
There is little reason to think San Diego State will not dominate the conference again this year. Boise State is not on the schedule this season, but those two are the favorites to meet in the conference championship game. A home game against Cal and a trip to Northern Illinois will provide early tests for the Aztecs, but outside of a trip to Utah State, the MW slate should not have too many pitfalls in it. That will lead to another big season for San Diego State.
Projected Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 233.3 (14th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 142.0 (118, 10)
Total Offense: 375.3 (85, 7)
Scoring Offense: 32.1 (46, 3)
Rushing Defense: 108.7 (7, 2)
Pass Defense: 178.6 (10, 3)
Total Defense: 287.3 (5, 1)
Scoring Defense: 16.4 (7, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.57 (1, 1)
Sacks: 2.64 (23, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.43 (31, 4)


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