Aztecs Head Coach Anticipates Bright Future

An age old saying claims that when you look towards the future you should never forget your past. Then again the San Diego State football team probably doesn't care to recall their recent history since the Mountain West conference was formed in 1999. The Aztecs haven't been to a bowl game or had a winning season in their new league, which naturally has coach Chuck Long looking nowhere but ahead.

"We knew what we were getting into with this program," said second-year head coach Chuck Long. "We are very excited about our future. When I took this job I knew there was a lot of upside to it, but I knew that it will also take some patience just because the way we want to build our program from the ground up." Long added that he feels very fortunate to be in such a fertile recruiting ground such as the San Diego area, and that is one other reason he's very optimistic for what lies ahead for his program.

The Aztecs finished 3-9 last season, yet Long is happy to be "loaded" in 2007 with 41 returning players. Offensively San Diego State is heavy with upper classmen, however on defense inexperience rules. "Last week we played 13 true freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores," Long stated. "We played four true freshmen last week, trying to give them experience and we feel good about them…we're not where we need to be yet, but the future is bright and we'll grow with it together."

In last week's 45-17 season opener road loss to Washington State, San Diego State drew first blood and was able to hold their own in the first quarter ending it with a 10-10 tie. Obviously judging by the final score, the Aztecs faired poorly in the last three quarters. Long believes that a strong start against the Sun Devils this weekend is imperative in order to have any chance of staying in the game.

"You look at ASU's squad and you talk about a junior and senior laden team," he said. "Coach Koetter has recruited very well and they all grew up together, and Coach Erickson does a great job of coaching as well and he has that team going pretty good right now…they have a lot of talent on that team."

Among the handful of players from the state of Arizona on the Aztecs' roster, are two wide receivers – Darren Mougey of Scottsdale Chaparral and Chaz Schilens of Gilbert Highland. "They're both good football players," said Long. "Darren Mougey was a quarterback when he got here, but his future is at wide receiver and more of an inside H-back type. He had four catches for us (for 52 yards and one TD against Washington State) and Chaz Schilens (who was SDSU's leading WR with 70 yards on five receptions in that same game) could have a great year. He was a very raw football player when he first got here, and he has really developed into a solid football player. His blocking last week was outstanding. He's a physical wide receiver and takes pride in his run blocking. We like them both."

Washington State signal caller Alex Brink had a gaudy stat line against SDSU last week, passing for 469 yards and five TD's. In light of that, how does Long feel about the challenge of facing ASU's quarterback Rudy Carpenter on Saturday? "Rudy is a good quarterback. He has experience and great weapons around him," Long replied. "Alex Brink put on a clinic last week and riddled us. We're very thin at the corner position, and in fact we'll play by committee until we settle it down. That's just the way it is right now."

A very experienced Aztec offense, will encounter a stingy Sun Devil defense that has allowed just one touchdown in two games. Long expressed his displeasure with this side of the ball, and was disappointed with the ten penalties they committed, which prevented a "smooth" operating offense. "I do like the way we started the game. We started fast," he remarked. "But again we shot ourselves in the foot which we cannot do. Our goal is to start fast and have a smoother operation this week, although we're going into a hostile crowd…we have our work cut out for us."

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