#72 San Diego State Football 2014 Preview

San Diego State Aztecs

Overall Rank: #72
#5 Mountain West

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Coach Rocky Long has found some success with San Diego State.  Long is about .500 in his coaching career after having had some successful seasons at New Mexico along with some disappointing years.  Things are off to a good start under the defensive-minded coach with the Aztecs.  They are built on defense but they have a good quarterback in Quinn Kaehler who will look to build on his 3,000 yard passing season this upcoming year.  The Mountain West it tougher than people think and sustaining success is not going to be easy.

2013 Record: (8-5, 6-2)
2013 Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Buffalo (W 49-24)
Coach: Rocky Long (25-14 at San Diego State, 90-83 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bob Toledo
Defensive Coordinator: Rocky Long

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: D.J. Pumphrey, RB, 773 yards
Passing: Quinn Kaehler, QB, 3,007 yards
Receiving: Ezell Ruffin, WR, 805 yards
Tackles: Josh Gavert, LB, 68
Sacks: Alex Barrett, DL, 3.0; Josh Gavert, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: J.J. Whittaker, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: DB Damontae Kazee, LB Derek Largent, OL Terry Poole

Key Losses: RB Adam Muma, DB Nate Berhe, DB Eric Pinkins, LB Nick Tenhaeff, WR Colin Lockett, WR Tim Vizzi, FB Chad Young, OL Bryce Quigley,

There is a sense that Long is building a defensive program in San Diego.  His vision is clear, and they are on their way to such a distinction.  They were a top 25 run stopping team last season and second in the conference.  Unfortunately, they lose a lot of defensive skill players such as Nat Behre, their leading tackler last season, and Eric Perkins are gone.  However, philosophically the Aztecs should stack up this coming season as well if they continue to plan on stopping the run.  They will try to make their opponents one dimensional.  Their back end was average, but they would give up less than 400 yards per game thanks to their run stoppage.  Another advantage that the Aztecs have is the return of a seasoned quarterback in Quinn Kaehler.  The senior will be entering the season looking to improve after throwing 19 touchdowns last season.

There are a lot of holes at some key spots after losing a lot of players from last season.  Behre and Perkins, two NFL draft picks, leave a lot of tackles on the field.  Leading rusher Adam Muema leaves duties to Donnel Pumphrey after amassing 15 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards.  There is a lot of production that needs to be replaced on both sides, and hopefully there is enough depth the fill in.  Closing out games should become a priority this coming season as well.  San Diego State played four overtime games in 2013.  It makes for excitement for the fans but not for the coaching staff.  The overtime games skewed their defensive scoring stats, but shaving off two or three points from the opponents’ totals this season should allow the team to finish games in regulation and lessen wear and tear on players.

The Bottom Line:
San Diego State should consistently be in position to make a run in the Mountain West as long as they maintain their talent and put coach Long’s defensive concepts into practice.  Heading into his fourth season, Long has to feel good that he has an established quarterback that is a candidate to break out.  There are 25 recruits coming in for 2014.  None are overwhelming, but ideally a handful of them will be able to contribute right away, especially on defense.  The Aztecs were on the cusp of a division win last year.  With some consistency they should be in the mix in 2014.

Projected Bowl: New Orleans Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 166.6 (68th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 258.3 (38, 7)
Total Offense: 424.9 (51, 7)
Scoring Offense: 29.8 (59, 9)
Rushing Defense: 131.4 (22, 2)
Pass Defense: 254.8 (98, 7)
Total Defense: 386.2 (53, 2)
Scoring Defense: 31.7 (92, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.8 (117, 12)
Sacks: 2.00 (62, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.31 (82, 10)


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