#36 San Diego State 2018 Football Preview

San Diego State Aztecs
Overall Rank: #36
#2 Mountain West
 San Diego State Logo
In Mountain West play, San Diego State has gone 22-4 over the last three seasons. Coach Rocky Long has turned this into a very consistent program. Last year the Aztecs picked up non-conference victories over Arizona State and Stanford before going 6-2 in conference action. The losses to Boise State and Fresno State at home cost SDSU a trip to the championship game, but once again the Aztecs should be right in the mix for a conference title.
2017 Record: 10-3, 6-2
2017 Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl vs. Army (L 35-42)
Coach: Rocky Long (64-29 at San Diego State, 129-98 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Horton
Defensive Coordinator: Zach Arnett
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Juwan Washington, RB, 759 yards
Passing: Christian Chapman, QB, 1,873 yards
Receiving: Fred Trevillion, WR, 327 yards
Tackles: Ronley Lakalaka, LB, 82
Sacks: Chibu Onyeukwu, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Traiq Thompson, DB, 5
Other Key Returnees: TE Kahale Warring, OL Tyler Roemer, LB Parker Baldwin, CB Ron Smith, K John Baron
Key Losses: RB Rashaad Perry, WR Mikah Holder, TE David Wells, S Trey Lomax, CB Kameron Kelly, LB Jay Henderson
Juwan Washington is next in line to take over the potent SDSU ground game. Two years ago Donnel Pumphrey finished his collegiate career as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher. Last year Rashaad Penny rushed for 2,248 yards during his senior season. Washington added 759 yards last year as Penny’s backup and the junior will have a very productive season. San Diego State will rely heavily on their ground game, but the passing attack has enough talent to do some damage as well. Quarterback Christian Chapman is entering his third season as a starter and threw for 1,873 yards and 13 touchdowns. More importantly, Chapman was intercepted just four times and completed 60.1 percent of his passes. Fred Trevillion is a big play receiver, but the Aztecs do need to find some reliable targets for Chapman.
The defense was very strong last year, ranking 11th in the nation in total defense and 21st in scoring defense. This year should be more of the same. The front three has a pass rushing threat in Chibu Onyeukwu and tackle Noble Hall is a force in the middle of the line. Linebacker Ronley Lakalaka tallied a team high 82 tackles and junior Kyahva Tezino is ready for a larger role. The key for the linebackers will be in the middle where a playmaker needs to emerge. The secondary is the strength of the defense. Safety Tariq Thompson intercepted five passes and tallied 63 tackles as a freshman. He is quickly turning into the star of a very talented unit.
The Bottom Line:
With an efficient offense and Coach Long’s typically dangerous defense, San Diego State has the potential to reach the Mountain West title game. The schedule is tough though. The Aztecs once again play Stanford and Arizona State early in the year, but this year SDSU must travel to Boise State and Fresno State. Those two teams also have conference title aspirations so the Aztecs will have to be at their best to play for a conference crown.
Projected Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 252.5 (10th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 147.7 (117, 10)
Total Offense: 400.2 (64, 6)
Scoring Offense: 30.8 (45, 4)
Rushing Defense: 135.8 (32, 3)
Pass Defense: 178.7 (15, 3)
Total Defense: 314.5 (11, 1)
Scoring Defense: 20.2 (21, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (26, 4)
Sacks: 1.77 (93, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.38 (86, 10)