Coaching Changes: Aztecs Apprehensive or Optimistic?

Andy Ludwig San Diego State

Coaching Changes: Aztecs Apprehensive or Optimistic?

How does the hiring of a new coach affect a team? We’re about to find out from the 2011 San Diego State Aztecs football team.  Offensive Coordinator Al Borges left SDSU in January of 2011 to join new Michigan head coach Brady Hoke in Ann Arbor. This left San Diego State with an opening that was quickly filled by Andy Ludwig. Ludwig comes to the Aztecs from the University of California where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Golden Bears.

Ludwig’s success at Cal must be considered relative to the success of the program as a whole. Cal finished the 2009 season (Ludwig’s first) with a record of 8-5 with a loss to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl. However, Ludwig coached Javid Best in an offense that could have easily seen Best as a Heisman candidate. Those hopes were dashed as Best received a major concussion against Oregon State and consequently missed the remainder of his junior season. Best forwent his senior year and declared for the NFL draft in 2010. Luckily for Ludwig he was left with Shane Vereen who rushed for 1,167 yards in 2010 and had 13 rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately, this did not lead to an equal or improved record as Cal finished with a 5-7 record and no bowl appearance.

San Diego State stakeholders hope that Ludwig’s success with talented running backs will aid Ronny Hillman’s push for the 2011 Doak Walker and Walter Camp Awards, both of which he is a pre-season candidate. Hillman is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,532 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman. Two hundred twenty-eight of those yards, as well as three touchdowns, came in the Poinsettia bowl against Navy. He was also named to the Freshman All-American team with Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina.

San Diego State’s success may hinge on Hillman, but the 5’10” 175 lb. running back’s success depends on his offensive line. This is good news for Hillman and the Aztecs as the offensive line of 2010 played all 13 games together, aided in a rushing total of 2,097 yards, and only allowed nine sacks. Although the anchor of the offensive line, center Trask Iosefa, has graduated, the other four lineman return for 2011. New offensive line coach Dan Finn is familiar with Andy Ludwig as they coached together at the University of Utah in their BCS Bowl year of 2005, when they defeated Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.

A series of new coach hires can mean many things for a college football program, but San Diego State has hired the coaching staff they see best fit to feature their young, talented core of playmakers. Ronnie Hillman and the SDSU offensive line should have plenty of opportunities for big games, in and out of conference this year. Look for Hillman to be in talks for major awards all year, and he can thank the consistency and will of his front five.


 Read the in-depth football preview for San Diego State