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: Safeties

Berhe and Pinkins make tackle

Nat Berhe (20) and Eric Pinkins (27), two of the top tacklers on the Aztec defense, both return in 2013 to lead an experienced group of safeties. (Ernie Anderson/SDSU Media Relations)


Who’s gone

No one.

Projected starters (2012 stats)

  • WAR #27 Eric Pinkins – RS Sr., 6-foot-3, 215 pounds (65 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions, two pass break-ups, one fumble recovery, one defensive touchdown)
  • AZ #20 Nat Berhe – RS Sr., 5-foot-11, 190 pounds (94 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, five pass break-ups, one fumble recovery)
  • WAR #39 Rene Siluano – Sr., 5-foot-10, 180 pounds (31 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one pass break up, one forced fumble)

Note: WAR is the Warrior safety position, AZ is the Aztec safety position

Key reserves (2012 stats)

  • WAR #26 Marcus Andrews – RS Sr., 6-foot, 190 pounds  (27 tackles, one interception, four pass break-ups, one fumble recovery)
  • WAR #6 Gabe Lemon – RS Sr., 5-foot-10, 195 pounds  (31 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two pass break-ups)
  • AZ #30 Darius Guillory – RS So., 5-foot-10, 185 pounds  (Nine tackles)
  • AZ/WAR #33 Brandon Wright – RS So., 5-foot-11, 205 pounds (Two tackles)

Players to watch

  • AZ #20 Nat Berhe – RS Sr., 5-foot-11, 190 pounds – The leading tackler on the Aztec defense, Berhe finished the 2012 season with 94 total tackles. Keep an eye on him throughout the year as he nears a spot in the top 10 in school history for total tackles and solo tackles. Through three seasons, Berhe has 137 solo tackles and 200 total tackles. Former safety Chris Johnson (1990-1993) currently sits at No. 10 all-time with 168 solo tackles, while former safety Darrell Lewis (1991-1993) is ranked 10th in school history with 279 total tackles. See below for a list of the top 10 tacklers in San Diego State history, both total and solo.

All-Time Tackle Leaders

  • AZ/WAR #33 Brandon Wright – RS So., 5-foot-11, 205 pounds – Due to a ton of depth at running back, Wright was moved to safety during fall camp in 2012. Although he was able to contribute on special teams, notably kickoff returns, the sudden switch made it hard for him to see the field on defense. Look for Wright to continue to play well on special teams, but also make a push for playing time on the defensive side of the ball with a full offseason to better learn his new position.

2013 Commitments
San Diego State currently has four safety commits, but don’t expect any of them to jump ahead of the veteran safeties on the depth chart. If Trey Lomax, Joe MorrowBrandon Porter and Malik Smith sign with Aztecs as planned, all four will almost undoubtedly redshirt.

Analysis
San Diego State returns a very experienced group of safeties, and along with the linebackers, they are the clear strength of the defense. With five seniors, each with significant playing time throughout their careers, expect this group to be a dominant force in 2013.

Berhe has been a tackling machine in his three seasons with the Aztecs, and look for him to continue his stellar play. Pinkins, a physical specimen at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, is an aggressive, hard-hitting safety who displayed his playmaking ability in 2012. He returned an interception for a touchdown against Fresno State, and almost did the same against BYU had it not been for an illegal block penalty.

Siluano, Andrews and Lemon have shown to be solid players over the past three seasons, and all will see the field often as Rocky Long likes to rotate his defensive players. Keep an eye on Siluano and Andrews throughout spring practice and fall camp as they battle for the third starting spot alongside Berhe and Pinkins.

Guillory, Wright, Stan Sedberry and Tony Bell, all redshirt sophomores, are four younger safeties who will play a key role on special teams in 2013, and could potentially see time on defense. It will be an important year of development for the young safeties (Add redshirt freshman Kendrick Mathis to the bunch), as they will be heavily relied on in 2014 when the five seniors above them are gone.

Prediction
Nat Berhe will finish his collegiate career in the top 10 in school history in total tackles and solo tackles, and 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

Stay tuned tomorrow for a preview on the special teams 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