The San Diego State Aztecs have now had 4 winning years in a row, with the last 3 being under the guidance of Rocky Long. This year they there is rebuilding to do on both sides of the ball as the Aztecs are rated 104th in the nation in experience and have just 4 starters back on defense. This team should still be in the mix for a bowl game somewhere. Preview & schedule are below.
The offense for the Aztecs was pretty good last year, as they put up 29.8 ppg. This year they may be a bit better as QB Quinn Kaehler is back, after throwing for 3007 yards and 19 TDs last year, along with his top target Ezell Ruffin, who had 1136 yards receiving last year. After Ruffin the WR corps really drops off, with no one left that caught more than 22 passes coming back. The running game took a hit with 1200 yards back Adam Muema leaving, but Donnel Pumphrey is back after rushing for 775 yards last year and we add in redshirt freshman Marcus Stamps, who was the #81 back out of HS. The OL has 3 starters and solid depth and should be a big asset to this offense. Defense is where this team will run into problems, with just 4 starters back from a group that allowed 31.7 ppg last year. The DL is the clear strength of this unit and is actually rated best in the MWC by Phil Steele. Christian Heyward leads this group after transferring from USC last year and was the 29th rated DL when he came out of HS. The back 8 of this defense will struggle, with 4 unproven sophomores combined starting in the LB and secondary units. Both units have not been rated that highly in the MWC, but a couple of players to watch are CB JJ Whitaker, who had 11 PBUs and 3 INTs last year and LB Josh Gabbert, who has 3 sacks, 3 TFL and 3 PBUs last year.
The Aztecs have won 8 or more games in Rocky Long’s 3 years here, but I don’t see a 4th, as this is a very inexperienced team. The offense can improve, but only if a 2nd WR can step up and Marcus Stamps has a solid year running the ball. The defense has a very strong OL, but also a pretty weak back 8 and overall this unit may struggle like last year. The Aztec schedule is not all that kind, with road games vs Oregon State and North Carolina outside the MWC and Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State within the MWC on the road. I see 7 wins at the most from this squad this year, but still that will be enough to put them in a bowl game. KEY TREND: 10-0-2 ATS as non-conference home favorites of 4 or more.
2014 San Diego State Football Schedule
Aug. 30 Northern ArizonaSep. 6 at North CarolinaSep. 13 OPEN DATESep. 20 at Oregon StateSep. 27 UNLVOct. 4 at Fresno StateOct. 11 at New MexicoOct. 18 HawaiiOct. 25 OPEN DATENov. 1 at NevadaNov. 8 IdahoNov. 15 at Boise StateNov. 22 Air ForceNov. 29 San Jose State
Info gathered From Phil Steele's CFB Preview and Athlon Sports
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