The San Diego State Aztecs should be a ton of fun to watch this year. Sure they’re green at wideout, but they have an established NFL talent at QB (Ryan Lindley) and a fantastic RB in Ronnie Hillman, the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year last season.
They also have an underrated head coaching prospect (Rocky Long) taking over this season. He has a conference resume/pedigree having become New Mexico’s all-time winningest coach in his previous destination. Factor in a very favorable schedule, and (to quote Lou Brown in “Major League”) “it’s all starting to come together, Pepper.”
2010 was: Very successful as the Aztecs went 9-4, 5-3 in conference and won their bowl game which was kind of like a de facto home game. It’s that bowl with the 47 word long name. Now with Brady Hoke gone to coach the Michigan Wolverines, Defensive coordinator Long takes over. With him, you know they’ll be solid on D as he turned the SDSU defense around from 113th to 43rd nationally in one year. His unorthodox 3-3-5 scheme turned the New Mexico Lobos program around. You know before Mike Locksley showed the world he’s both inept and insane by burning NMU football to the ground.
BMOCs: Lindley, Long, Brian Stahovich, one of the nation’s best punters. Ezell Ruffin, the versatile freshman could make a difference as a wildcat QB or WR. They have potential all-conference players in all three levels of the defense: OLB Mike Burris, CB Leon McFadden and NT Jerome Long.
2011 will be fruitful if: All the mixed rotations and line-ups in the defense coalesce. Long will play 22-24 guys, and if change is fluid and smooth, look out MWC. Likewise on the other side of the ball, where there are questions at wide receiver. But if the WR potential is tapped, then watch the offense soar. They have the perfect pilot to get the machine off the ground.
2011 will be awful if: no improvement is made up on last year’s 86th overall turnover margin. Also depth is an issue at some key positions, so just like every team in the country, if the injury bug bites at the wrong place at the wrong time, everything could unravel quickly. The Aztecs will also miss coordinator Al Borges. Hoke took him with.
Bottom Line: The conference title is not really in play, as Boise State and TCU are two ships passing in the conference night here. And they have yachts while SDSU has a really nice speedboat. So another 9-4, maybe 10-3 looks like your best case scenario. A bowl berth is probably assured at minimum.
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#71 Ole Miss Rebels