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
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: Tumblr – http://hunterhewitt.tumblr.com
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

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2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Special Teams

McMorrow kicks off

Seamus McMorrow, who recorded 33 touchbacks in 2012, will resume kickoff duties, and possibly more, in 2013. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • K Chance Marden

Projected starters (2012 stats)

  • K/P #17 Seamus McMorrow – So., 5-foot-11, 190 pounds (Punting: 41.7 yard average, 13 punts inside 20 ; Kickoffs: 33 touchbacks)
  • LS #60 Jeff Overbaugh – So., 6-foot-2, 240 pounds (52-52 on PATs, 14-14 on field goals, 48-48 on punts)
  • KR #24 Colin Lockett – RS Sr., 6-foot, 180 pounds (30 kickoff returns, 777 yards, two touchdowns, 25.9 yards per return)
  • PR #41 Tim Vizzi – RS Sr., 5-foot-10, 170 pounds (13 punt returns, 95 yards, 7.3 yards per return)

Key reserves/Players to watch

  • P #77 Joel Alesi – RS Jr., 6-foot, 235 pounds – If punting and kicking duties appear to be too much for McMorrow, expect Alesi to take over as the punter. Alesi saw action in two games in 2012 and punted six times for an average of 43.5 yards per punt, so he is a very reliable option if needed.
  • K #49 Wes Feer – Sr., 5-foot-11, 205 pounds – Similar to the Alesi option, San Diego State could try the combination of McMorrow at punter and Feer at kicker. A junior college transfer, Feer joined the team in the spring of 2012, and he will be determined to compete for the kicking job in his final season.
  • KR #33 Brandon Wright – RS So., 5-foot-11, 205 pounds – In the final three games of the 2012 season, teams were often afraid to kick the ball to Lockett due to his big playmaking ability. Keep an eye on Wright, as he will likely be on the field for kickoff returns as the second return man. Opposing teams may look to kick the ball in his direction to play it safe and avoid Lockett.

2013 Commitments
Currently, San Diego State has no commitments at punter, kicker, or long snapper.

Analysis
For a team replacing its entire kicking and snapping unit, San Diego State exceeded expectations with above average special teams play in 2012. McMorrow and Overbaugh proved to be great finds by the coaching staff, as both came in and played extremely well as true freshmen.

McMorrow was nearly flawless on kickoffs in the second half of the season, recording a touchback almost every time. Look for him to keep the kickoff job in 2013, and possibly be the starting punter and kicker as well. If all three appear to be too much for McMorrow, expect the coaching staff to flirt with the combination of Alesi at punter and McMorrow at kicker or McMorrow at punter and Feer at kicker.

In the return game, playmakers Lockett and Vizzi return in 2013 to lead what should be a key component of the Aztecs’ special teams. Lockett nearly broke the school record for most kickoff return yards in a season in 2012, but was rarely kicked to in the final three games and missed opportunities. He is just 51 yards shy of surpassing the record of former San Diego State receiver Monty Gilbreath (1986-1989) for most career kickoff return yards in school history.

Prediction
McMorrow will have over 40 touchbacks on kickoffs in 2013.


2013 Season Preview: Home
2013 Season Preview: Defensive Line
2013 Season Preview: Linebackers
2013 Season Preview: Cornerbacks
2013 Season Preview: Safeties

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

by Hunter Hewitt

GO 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