2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Running Backs

Muema runs with the ball

Adam Muema (4) and Chad Young (40) return in 2013 to lead an explosive ground attack for San Diego State. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • RB Walter Kazee
  • FB Chris Gordert

Projected starters (2012 stats)

  • RB #4 Adam Muema – RS Jr., 5-foot-10, 205 pounds (237 carries, 1,458 yards, 16 touchdowns ; 9 catches, 147 yards, one touchdown)
  • FB #40 Chad Young – RS Sr., 5-foot-10, 230 pounds (2 carries, 13 yards ; 18 catches, 108 yards, three touchdowns)

Key reserves (2012 stats)

  • RB #22 Chase Price – RS So., 5-foot-8, 200 pounds (29 carries, 114 yards, one touchdown)
  • RB #32 De’Saan Hardwick – RS So., 5-foot-9, 190 pounds (N/A)
  • RB #7 Dwayne Garrett – RS So., 6-foot, 205 pounds (7 carries, 32 yards)

Players to watch

  • RB #22 Chase Price – RS So., 5-foot-8, 200 pounds When Kazee went down in the final regular season game against Wyoming, Price stepped in and played well as the second running back, carrying the ball seven times for 41 yards. Keep an eye on him to see if he can continue his success late in the season and lock up the backup role behind Muema.
  • RB #32 De’Saan Hardwick – RS So., 5-foot-9, 190 pounds – Hardwick had an impressive fall camp in 2012, but was injured shortly before the season began and missed most of the year. A speedy and agile runner, Hardwick is arguably one of the fastest players on the team, and his skill set could help the Aztecs in 2013. Expect him to be fully healthy by spring practices and to make a push for the backup spot.

2013 Commitments
Currently, San Diego State has just one definite running back commit, Donnel Pumphrey out of Nevada. Although Pumphrey is a talented three-star recruit with several Division 1 offers, he will likely redshirt due to the amount of depth the Aztecs have at running back. Marcus Stamps has also committed, and although he will likely play running back, don’t be surprised if he ends up at linebacker. Due to the depth at both positions, it is a safe bet that he will redshirt at either spot.

Analysis
Entering the 2012 season, one of the biggest concerns surrounding San Diego State was the loss of star running back Ronnie Hillman, who left school early and was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos.

Luckily for the Aztecs, the two-headed monster of Muema and Kazee filled the void, and helped fans forget about Hillman with their exceptional play. Together, Muema and Kazee led a ground attack that was just as explosive, if not more, than it had been in years past, rushing for a combined 2,270 yards and 24 touchdowns.

With Kazee gone, expect Price, Hardwick and Garrett to compete for the second running back spot. Muema will continue to receive a majority of the carries, but San Diego State will likely use a second running back to spell him when he needs a rest.

Price is the frontrunner, as he showed his abilities last season when filling in for the injured Kazee. Hardwick could have potentially made a push for the third spot on the depth chart behind Muema and Kazee last season, but an injury a week before the season began kept him out for the majority of the year. Look for him to get several opportunities to show his talent in spring practices and fall camp.

Garrett has good size, but will need a strong offseason to climb the depth chart. Although just one of the four is likely to receive a significant number of carries, expect the other three to make an impact on special teams in 2013 (i.e., Garrett’s blocked punt vs. Boise State).

At the fullback position, look for the same hard-nosed, smash-mouth style of football from the third-year starter Young. He will continue to bulldoze through the hole and open running lanes for Muema and the other backs next season, and will also be utilized in the passing game. He displayed his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield last year, especially on play-action passes in goal-line and short-yardage situations, and will likely see more balls thrown his way in 2013.

Prediction
Muema will rush for over 1,600 yards in 2013. He will also see an increased role in the passing game and will have over 250 receiving yards.


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

Stay tuned tomorrow for a preview on the tight ends 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

2013 SDSU Football Season Preview: Cornerbacks

King Holder gets interception

Redshirt junior cornerback King Holder, the most experienced returning cornerback, picks off a pass in the bowl game vs. BYU. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)

Who’s gone

  • CB Leon McFadden
  • CB Josh Wade

Projected starters (2012 stats)

  • CB #35 King Holder – RS Jr., 5-foot-10, 165 pounds (33 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, five pass break-ups)
  • CB #21 Mahbu Keels – RS Jr., 6-foot-1, 175 pounds (N/A) 

Key reserves (2012 stats)

  • CB #34 J.J. Whittaker – RS Jr., 5-foot-10, 180 pounds (N/A)
  • CB #23 Damontae Kazee – RS Fr., 5-foot-11, 175 pounds (N/A – redshirt year)
  • CB #13 Pierre Romain – RS So., 5-foot-8, 165 pounds (10 tackles)
  • CB #16 David Lamar – RS Jr., 6-foot-2, 180 pounds (six tackles)

Players to watch

  • CB #34 J.J. Whittaker – RS Jr., 5-foot-10, 180 pounds – A highly touted recruit out of Oceanside High School, Whittaker has had a serious streak of bad luck as he has been bitten by the injury bug the last three seasons. After tearing his ACL twice in his firs two years and breaking a bone in his shoulder last season, Whittaker has yet to see any game action. Fortunately, he returned towards the end of the 2012 season and practiced with the scout team. Look for Whittaker to finally get his chance to see the field in 2013. He has all the tools to be a solid player for the Aztecs, and if he can stay healthy, he will be an important contributor and may compete for a starting role.
  • CB #23 Damontae Kazee – RS Fr., 5-foot-11, 175 pounds – Although he has yet to see the field after redshirting in 2012, expect Kazee to make a name for himself in spring practices. He has great bloodlines, as Aztec fans spent the last four years idolizing his brother, former running back Walter Kazee, for his incredible toughness and willpower. Look for Damontae Kazee to bring that same toughness on the defensive side of the ball, locking down wide receivers and stepping up in run support when needed.
  • DB #31 Tony Bell – RS So., 6-foot-1, 180 pounds – As a true freshman in 2011, Bell was listed as a cornerback, but eventually redshirted and moved to safety the following season. Don’t be surprised if the coaching staff considers another move and he ends up back where he started. With a ton of depth at safety, the switch could be beneficial for Bell and the Aztecs, as he could likely contribute sooner at the cornerback position.

2013 Commitments
As of now, Billy Vaughn Jr.Addison Morrow and Kalan Montgomery are three commits who will likely play cornerback. Don’t be surprised if Montgomery, a three-star recruit, makes a push for playing time in the fall. Vaughn Jr. possesses a good combination of size and speed and could also potentially see playing time as a true freshman, but it is likely that he, along with Morrow, will redshirt in 2013.

Analysis
The cornerback position is a serious question mark for the San Diego State defense entering the 2013 season. With McFadden and Wade leaving, the Aztecs need to find two new starters from a group of mostly young, inexperienced players.

Luckily for San Diego State, Holder finished the 2012 season playing at a high level and had an exceptional performance in the bowl game. Expect him to secure one of the starting cornerback spots early on.

The question of who starts alongside Holder is where the uncertainty arises, as none of the other cornerbacks have seen significant playing time on defense. Romain and Lamar saw action on special teams in 2012, and both could make a push for one of the starting spots in 2013. Between those two, Keels, Whittaker and Kazee, look for a heated competition through spring practice and fall camp to determine the other starter.

Keels appears to be the frontrunner, as he is a physical corner with good size and will be entering his fourth season with the Aztecs. Don’t be surprised if Kazee turns some heads in the offseason as well, and forces the coaching staff to consider giving him a chance despite his youth and lack of experience. If Whittaker is able to stay healthy, he could also make a push for a starting job.

Prediction
Holder will have at least three interceptions in 2013, and return one of them for a touchdown.


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

Stay tuned tomorrow for a preview on the safeties 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