San Diego State Football: Offensive Preview
Taking a look at the Aztec roster under new head coach Brady Hoke, kicking the tires, and seeing what’s under the hood.
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The return of the Hoke.
The retirement of Rocky Long and later promotion of Brady Hoke to head coach brings up not only nostalgia but questions about San Diego State’s offense for the upcoming season. This Aztecs team has been successful this last decade turning a losing program into a winner, including four 10-win seasons in this run.
Hoke kept a lot of coaches on staff, and there’s a lot to like on defense. But we have to ask, what does the offense look like in 2020? First of all, Hoke recruited former assistant Jeff Hecklinski away from Kansas to assume Offensive Coordinator while Jeff Horton stays and gets promoted to Associate Head Coach.
2020 Projected Starters:
QB: Carson Baker
RB: Chase Jasmin
RB: Jordan Byrd
WR: Kobe Smith
WR: Jesse Matthews
TE: Daniel Bellinger
OL: Zachary Thomas
OL: Jacob Capra
OL: Dominic Gudino
OL: Kyle Spalding
OL: William Dunkle
Nationally recognized pre-season standouts: Daniel Bellinger: Tight End Mackey Award Watch List (Outstanding Collegiate Tight End), William Dunkle: Offensive Guard All-Mountain West first-team – College Football News
The strength of the offense is its line. This is a more cohesive unit than years previous because they only lose one starter, and return four. We’ve seen that the familiarity works in favor for the running backs and blocking assignments. The biggest questions here are how much time do they buy for Carson Baker and how many times do they have to pick their QB from the turf?
A decade ago, San Diego State had a balanced offensive attack with QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman. Carson Baker has the potential to step up, as he did so against BYU in 2019, throwing for the game’s only touchdown.
San Diego State’s running back-by-committee gives each back the competition necessary for at least one 1,000-yard back this season. Chase Jasmin has been an all-downs back for the last 3 years, also finding space in the receiving game and leading the Aztecs with 5 total touchdowns in 2019. He is their workhorse, though not a change of pace like Jordan Byrd who is a speedster like previous San Diego State backs who can hit the next level once they have room. There’s also junior Chance Bell who has been as much of a workhorse as Jasmin, an all-downs back who has put in the time.
When it comes to Aztec receivers, no one knows what the deal is nor the ceiling for this unit. On paper, the receivers under Hunkie Cooper have produced guys who find it hard to get open and it’s hard to ignore San Diego State hasn’t produced a 1000-yard receiver since 2013. Kobe Smith and Jesse Matthews are good options for Baker for the upcoming season. Smith has come through for Agnew in 2019, and if the passing attack is back expect more blanketed coverage on Smith.
As for the tight ends Daniel Bellinger has the only touchdown of Baker’s college career. One has to assume that the QB-TE connection will grow here and help Baker navigate the 2020 season. Nolan Givan and Alex Wilson round out the rest of the tight ends on the roster.
This season is an opportunity for San Diego State to revamp their offensive schemes. The offense has sputtered many times, and the run-first mentality doesn’t mean success when it comes to playing teams at their competitive level. Aztec football can still be Running Back University, but the quarterback can relieve the pressure on the shoulders of the backfield.