San Diego State Preview

The scoreboard lit up with over 60 points the last time these two teams met in 2002. With both schools in the top 30 nationally in passing offense, will there be a repeat this Saturday? Second-year Aztec head coach Chuck Long may be hoping for a similar shootout as his offense will likely carry the torch this season.

SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS

2007 Record: 0-1
Head Coach: Chuck Long

Last Week: San Diego State opened up their season at Qwest Field in Seattle against Pac-10 member Washington State. Despite an early lead, the Aztecs fell by a score of 45-17.

OFFENSE

*Projected Starters

WR Chaz Schilens, Sr.
WR Brett Swain, Sr.
TE Steve Schmidt, Sr.
LT Will Robinson, Sr.
LG Mike Schmidt, Jr.
C Trask Iosefa, Fr.
RG Fred Amano, Sr.
RT Mike Kravetz, Sr.
QB Kevin O'Connell, Sr.
TB Brandon Bornes, Sr.
WR Darren Mougey, Jr.

The Aztec offense is a senior-laden group, starting with quarterback Kevin O'Connell. The signal-caller has 22 starts under his belt and has thrown for nearly 5,000 yards in his career at SDSU. O'Connell passed for 273 yards and a score last week against the Cougars. Kelsey Sokoloski, a redshirt freshman, serves as the primary back-up at quarterback. Sokoloski completed 2 of 3 passes for 12 yards last week.

O'Connell and the receivers may provide the biggest test for the Sun Devil secondary thus far. The Aztecs will look to throw the ball often to a handful of capable targets. Former Valley prep star Darren Mougey is one of two players in the program's history to throw, catch, and rush for a touchdown. Mougey caught the only passing score a week ago. Tight end Steve Schmidt led the team in receptions a week ago with 7. The senior missed all of last season with a foot injury. Brett Swain and Chaz Schilens combined for 4 touchdowns a year ago and enter as experienced options for O'Connell. Swain led all receivers last season with 47 catches.

Tailback Brandon Bornes leads the San Diego State ground game this season. Bornes, who is a little tougher to bring down with his 225-pound frame, has rushed for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns as an Aztec. Joining him in the backfield are Atiyyah Henderson and Lynell Hamilton. Henderson had a solid debut as a freshman last season when he rushed for 764 yards. At just 5-9, he's a nice change-of-pace back to pair with the bigger Bornes. Hamilton, a former freshman All-American at tailback, has been slowed with injuries and has since moved to fullback. Don't sleep on Hamilton as he can catch the ball out of the backfield as well.

DEFENSE

*Projected Starters

DE Siaosi Fifita, Jr.
DT Peter Nelson, So.
DE Nick Osborn, Sr.
R B.J. Williams, Fr.
WLB Brett Martin, Sr.
MLB Luke Laolagi, So.
SLB Russell Allen, Jr.
FS T.J. McKay, Jr.
SS Ray Bass, Sr.
CB Aaron Moore, So.
CB Scotty James, Sr.

Senior defensive end Nick Osborn is the anchor up front for the Aztecs. Osborn has collected 118 tackles over the last three seasons for the defense and adds a wealth of experience. Siaosi Fifita will line up opposite Osborn at the other end spot. Tackles Peter Nelson and Ornan Nwansi combined for 5 tackles a week ago, with Nwansi registering the lone tackle for a loss. B.J. Williams and Brian Stanbra will both share time as a hybrid defensive end. Williams and Stanbra made their respective debuts against Washington State. The defensive line has yet to register a quarterback sack this season.

The 3-4 base defense aims to highlight the strength at linebacking unit this fall. Strong-side linebacker Russell Allen was second in tackles last year with 88 stops. The junior has made 20 career starts and was named a team captain in fall camp. Senior Brett Martin also adds experience on the weak-side with 9 starts and 73 tackles in his career at SDSU. Luke Laolagi chipped in 8 tackles last week in the middle.

The early returns aren't good at all for the new faces in the Aztec secondary. All four starters from last season's squad are gone and fresh faces have given way to big plays through the air. The defensive backs surrendered 469 passing yards last week to Wazzu. Strong safety Ray Bass, also voted a team captain, paced the defense with 9 tackles last week. Starting free safety T.J. McKay also added 7 stops. The Cougars threw to sophomore cornerback Aaron Moore's way quite a bit last week. Moore came up with 1 pass break up and ended with 9 stops.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P Michael Hughes, Sr.
PK Garrett Palmer, Sr.

PR Vonnie Holmes, Jr.
KOR Vincent Brown, Fr.

Senior punter Michael Hughes was a Ray Guy Award nominee a year ago but a foot injury slowed him throughout the year. Hughes is averaging 42 yards per punt so far this season and his longest last Saturday went for 47 yards. Kicker Garrett Palmer is also a veteran specialist back for the Aztecs. Palmer went 1 for 2 on field goal attempts against the Cougars, missing one from 53 yards out. The senior has converted 11 field goals from 40 yards or more in his career.
The Aztecs are high on the talents of true freshman receiver Vincent Brown. In his debut last week, Brown returned 6 kicks for a 24.3 yard average. His longest went for a 33-yard gain. Junior college transfer Vonnie Holmes hasn't shared in return duties yet this season.

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