2013 SDSU Spring Football Update: Week 1

Dingwell throws

Quarterback Adam Dingwell rolls out of the pocket and looks for a receiver in one of the first spring practices of 2013. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Aztec fans,

The first week of spring football is complete, and as usual, there is not much media coverage available. Head coach Rocky Long continues to restrict media appearances at practices, making it hard for fans to hear about what’s occurring.

Although I am no longer in San Diego, here are some updates I can comment on through various news releases and word of mouth.

Offensive Line

Dilley blocks

Junior lineman Zach Dilley participates in drills. Dilley will start at center or right tackle next season. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

San Diego State started spring football with the following first-team offensive line unit:

LT Bryce Quigley
LG Japheth Gordon
C Zach Dilley
RG Nico Siragusa
RT Terry Poole

Junior Zach Dilley, who started at right tackle in 2012, is currently the top candidate to take over the starting center job. Dilley was originally recruited as a center, so the move does not come as a huge surprise. Whether or not the move is permanent is the question.

The coaching staff will likely shift around the offensive line throughout the spring with various combinations at center, right guard and right tackle. Returning starters Quigley and Gordon have the left side spots locked up, but the other three positions are up in the air. The coaches definitely like Siragusa at right guard, and although he is young, he is the clear frontrunner.

The performance of Poole will determine whether Dilley starts at center or right tackle. Redshirt sophomore Paul Rodriguez will also compete with Poole at right tackle, and he could also make a push for the starting job if the coaches decide to keep Dilley at center.

Also, don’t forget about redshirt sophomore Jordan Smith and newly added transfer Lenicio Noble. Either one could still secure the the starting center role if the coaches ultimately decide to keep Dilley at right tackle.

Players out of spring practices

Players like J.J. Whittaker (left) and Paul Pitts (right), are back from injury and will see increased reps with the absence of others at their position. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Players like J.J. Whittaker (left) and Paul Pitts (right), are back from injury and will see increased reps with the absence of others at their position. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Last week, it was reported that Larry Clark, Seamus McMorow and Darius Guillory would not participate in spring practices due to a violation of team rules. Cornerback King Holder and safety Marcus Andrews will also be out because of injuries.

Although seemingly unfortunate, these absences will open the door for other players to see increased repetitions, and could potentially benefit the Aztecs in the long run.

Clark, an intriguing athlete with great size and even greater potential, misses a golden opportunity to participate in spring practices. He is a raw talent that needs as many repetitions he can get, and misses a 15 practices does not help. His absence will allow players like Jemond Hazely and Paul Pitts a chance to climb the depth chart.

The absence of McMorrow likely eliminates the possibility of him taking over both the kicking and punting duties in 2013. Kicker Wes Feer and punter Joel Alesi now have much better chances of earning their respective jobs next season. Don’t expect to see anyone lock up a starting spot in the spring, however, as the kicking and punting competitions will likely last deep into fall camp.

At first glance, Holder’s injury seems disastrous for a team that needs to replace both of its starting cornerbacks from the previous year. There is no need to panic, though, as this may actually help the defensive backfield as a whole.

Holder’s injury means two things: Increased reps for the rest of the cornerbacks and increased competition amongst the group. Holder was expected to secure one of the starting spots, and he likely still will, but this opens the door for the rest of the cornerbacks to compete for both spots.

Look for players like Mahbu Keels, J.J. Whittaker, Damontae Kazee, David Lamar and Pierre Romain to take advantage of the extra reps and push each other throughout the offseason. It is uncertain who will come out on top, but the increased competition will surely produce a viable starter.

Additional Notes

  • As expected, the coaching staff is promoting an open competition at quarterback. This is probably just for headlines and motivation. It is very unlikely that Dingwell will not be the starter in 2013.
  • Guillory’s absence and Andrews’ injury opens the door for players like Kendrick Mathis, Tony Bell and Stan Sedberry. Keep an eye on these young safeties throughout the spring.
  • Sophomore Robert Craighead has officially moved back to tight end, and reportedly had an impressive first week of practice. Look for the tight end competition, mainly between Roberts, Boesch and Craighead, to be a heated one.
  • Don’t be overly concerned by the reports of dropped passes and fumbled snaps. With a lot of rotating amongst the quarterbacks and centers, a new offensive coordinator and the early date of spring football, these reports are not surprising. Also, it is fairly difficult to improve throwing and catching skills in the months of January and February. Players typically need these months to recover from the season before and get back into conditioning shape. The major skill improvements occur between March and August.

That’s it for now, Aztec fans. Stay tuned for more updates. Also, keep an eye out for a recap of SDSU’s pro day on March 19.

In case you missed it, here are the top 10 story lines heading into spring football. 


LINKS:
Hunter Hewitt: APSE Bio – http://www.apsportseditors.org/newsletter/apse-student-member-bio-hunter-hewitt/
Hunter Hewitt: WordPress – http://hunterhewitt.wordpress.com
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Hunter Hewitt: Facebook – http://facebook.com/hunterhewittSDSU
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Hunter Hewitt: About.me – http://about.me/hunterhewitt
Hunter Hewitt: BrandYourself – http://hunterhewitt.brandyourself.com/
Hunter Hewitt: GoAztecs.com Player Profile – http://goaztecs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/hewitt_hunter00.html
Hunter Hewitt: SDSU News Team Story: http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news.aspx?s=73846
Hunter Hewitt: FanBase: http://www.fanbase.com/Hunter-Hewitt


by Hunter Hewitt

GO AZTECS

2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Offensive Line

Quigley blocks

Left tackle Bryce Quigley (78), an honorable mention all-conference selection last year, returns for his senior season in 2013. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • G Nik Embernate
  • G Riley Gauld
  • G/C Jimmy Miller
  • C Alec Johnson

Projected starters

  • LT #78 Bryce Quigley – Sr., 6-foot-5, 295 pounds 
  • LG #65 Japheth Gordon – RS Sr., 6-foot-3, 295 pounds
  • C #73 Jordan Smith – RS So., 6-foot-5, 270 pounds
  • RG #56 Nico Siragusa – RS Fr., 6-foot-5, 315 pounds
  • RT #64 Zach Dilley – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 295 pounds

Key reserves

  • G/T #70 Arthur Flores – RS Fr., 6-foot-5, 300 pounds
  • G/C #74 Austin Maass – RS Fr., 6-foot-4, 270 pounds
  • T #75 Kwayde Miller – RS Fr., 6-foot-7, 305 pounds
  • T #69 Paul Rodriguez – RS So., 6-foot-7, 285 pounds
  • G/T #67 Garrett Corbett – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 290 pounds 
  • T #79 Terry Poole – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 300 pounds

Players to watch

  • LT #78 Bryce Quigley – Sr., 6-foot-5, 295 pounds – In just his first season playing offensive line, Quigley had a solid year in 2012 and was an honorable mention all-conference selection. With another offseason to gain strength and improve his fundamentals, look for him to be a dominant force on the left side in 2013.
  • C #73 Jordan Smith – RS So., 6-foot-5, 270 pounds – With Johnson and Miller gone, San Diego State will need to find someone to take over the snapping duties in 2013. Often regarded as the quarterback of the offensive line, the center is a very important position that requires considerable knowledge in defensive fronts and schemes. Smith, who saw playing time in 2012 as an extra offensive lineman in short yardage situations, will be the frontrunner for the starting job.
  • G/T #67 Garrett Corbett – RS Jr., 6-foot-5, 290 pounds – Corbett entered the 2012 season as a candidate for the starting job at right tackle, but injured his ankle in fall camp and missed the remainder of the year. A versatile lineman who can play multiple positions, look for him to bounce back from his injury and compete with Siragusa for the starting spot at right guard.

2013 Commitments
San Diego State currently has four offensive lineman commits. Lenicio Noble and Braxton Isaac are two junior college transfers expected to sign, while Sergio Phillips and Antonio Rosales are high school commits. Expect all four to redshirt in 2013, as it is extremely difficult for a lineman to learn the offense and compete for playing time right away. Noble, who is expected to join the team in the spring and compete for the starting center spot, is the most likely of the bunch to see the field next season.

Analysis
Last season, San Diego State’s offensive lineman, led by newly hired offensive line coach Mike Schmidt, exceeded expectations and helped the Aztecs rush for over 220 yards per game. Next season, they will need to find replacements for Johnson and Embernate, its most experienced lineman in 2012.

Keep an eye on Smith and Maass in spring practices and fall camp, as they will likely battle to replace Johnson for the starting center spot. Both are skilled linemen, but they will need to get stronger and add weight in the offseason if they want to be effective in 2013. Noble will also be in the mix, but he will need to learn the offense quickly in the spring and gain ground on Smith and Maass if he wants a chance to play next season.

At right guard, Siragusa has a solid chance to win the job in 2013. He impressed the coaches last season, showing flashes of talent throughout fall camp. Although his youth and inexperience might be worrisome, he is one of the strongest offensive lineman and will get a ton of reps in the offseason. He and Corbett will likely be the frontrunners to replace Embernate, but don’t be surprised if some of the other young linemen get reps at the position in spring practices and fall camp.

In their first season as starters on the offensive line, Quigley, Gordon and Dilley played fairly well as a group. All three return in 2013, and will continue to pave the way for an explosive ground attack.

Pass protection will be the main focus for the offensive line in the offseason, as the Aztecs allowed 35 sacks last year, ranking them in the bottom 20 of all Division 1 FBS teams. Expect Quigley and Dilley to improve their fundamentals in the offseason and help San Diego State drastically reduce its total number of sacks in 2013.

Prediction
Quigley will be a first-team all-conference selection in 2013.


2013 Season Preview: Home
2013 Season Preview: Defensive Line
2013 Season Preview: Linebackers
2013 Season Preview: Cornerbacks
2013 Season Preview: Safeties
2013 Season Preview: Special Teams
2013 Season Preview: Wide Receivers
2013 Season Preview: Running Backs
2013 Season Preview: Tight Ends

Stay tuned tomorrow for a preview on the quarterbacks of the 2013 San Diego State Aztecs


LINKS:
Hunter Hewitt: WordPress – http://hunterhewitt.wordpress.com
Hunter Hewitt: Blogger – http://hunterhewitt.blogspot.com
Hunter Hewitt: LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterhewitt
Hunter Hewitt: Twitter – http://twitter.com/hunterhewitt89
Hunter Hewitt: Facebook – http://facebook.com/hunterhewittSDSU
Hunter Hewitt: About.me – http://about.me/hunterhewitt
Hunter Hewitt: BrandYourself – http://hunterhewitt.brandyourself.com/
Hunter Hewitt: GoAztecs.com Player Profile – http://goaztecs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/hewitt_hunter00.html
Hunter Hewitt: SDSU News Team Story: http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news.aspx?s=73846


by Hunter Hewitt

GO AZTECS

Rocky Long named MW Coach of the Year, all-conference teams announced

Rocky Long coaches

Head coach Rocky Long was named the MW Coach of the Year on Tuesday

Head coach Rocky Long was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year on Tuesday, marking the first time an SDSU head coach has ever received the award.

On top of Long’s award, several Aztecs were named to the all-conference teams.

All-MW First-Team selections
OL Nik Embernate, senior
TE Gavin Escobar, junior (two-time first-team honoree)
CB Leon McFadden, senior (three-time first-team honoree)

All-MW Second-Team selections
RB Adam Muema, sophomore
OL Alec Johnson, senior
LB Jake Fely, sophomore
S Nat Berhe, junior

All-MW Honorable Mentions
LB Derek Largent, sophomore
DL Sam Meredith, sophomore
OL Bryce Quigley, junior

Check out the official Mountain West press release to see the full teams and awards list.


LINKS:
Hunter Hewitt: WordPress – http://hunterhewitt.wordpress.com
Hunter Hewitt: LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/hunterhewitt
Hunter Hewitt: Twitter – http://twitter.com/hunterhewitt89
Hunter Hewitt: Facebook – http://facebook.com/hunterhewittSDSU
Hunter Hewitt: About.me – http://about.me/hunterhewitt
Hunter Hewitt: BrandYourself – http://hunterhewitt.brandyourself.com/
Hunter Hewitt: GoAztecs.com Player Profile – http://goaztecs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/hewitt_hunter00.html


by Hunter Hewitt

GO AZTECS