Saturday, April 15, 2006
AN ABSURDLY PREMATURE ASSESSMENT OF: SAN DIEGO STATE
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SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered, too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer
SAN DIEGO STATE
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Gorgeous city, boring team.
PAST FIVE SEASONS: 22-37 (15-21 Mtn. West) - 2005: 5-7 (4-4 Mtn. West)
STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 14 (7 Offense, 7 Defense)
WHAT'S CHANGED: Most notably, more than any player losses, there's new coach Chuck Long, architect of Oklahoma's occasionally steamrolling units, who was "extremely excited" to begin digging himself a hole at his introductory press conference in December:I am not a coach that will say or rely on the excuse that we have to wait four years to get my recruits in here. It is a win now approach. We are going to win now with this football team. I told them that today and I told them simply – you are my recruits and we are going to win right now.Riiight, and there are how many all-MWC players back from last year's 5-7 team? Oh yeah, one - the punter.
WHAT'S THE SAME: Apparently, to SMQ's disappointment, the ugly fade-to-black helmets. But also, in them, the backfield triumverate of Lynell Hamilton, Brandon Bornes and quarterback Kevin O'Connell, who combined for more than 1,500 yards rushing last year.
SUBTLE, BUT EFFECTIVE: You've probably never heard of any of them - neither, really, has SMQ - but four of the top five tacklers and the best pass rusher, on a team that struggled mightily getting to the quarterback: gone. Also gone is Jacob Eliminian, touted the past two seasons as the answer at corner and as coolest name on the team (edging offensive lineman Ikaika Aken-Moleta), after playing in just four games in two years following his four-interception sophomore season.
PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS: Further improvement by O'Connell would probably mean not only a postseason trip but some nice pub for the kid heading into his senior year in 2007. O'Connell more than doubled his touchdowns last season (from nine in 2004 to 19), while his interceptions grew at a much slower rate (nine to 12). So why is there a quarterback battle? Darren Mougey played very little last year (43 snaps in six games), and not particularly well; meanwhile, if O'Connell can get the picks down this time, while tossing for more scores again and continuing his scrambling success, the offense will break out of its middle-of-the-pack purgatory.
OVERLY OPTIMISTIC POST-SPRING CHATTER: The defense may have dominated today's Spring game, and last week's scrimmage, too, but chill - it's only cuz the offense was hiding its real shit until the fall! Then you'll see some, uh, pleasing alignments and the wide receivers "formulate as a committee," apparently. Oh, and probably, the defense sucking against the complicated stuff.
REASON(S) FOR HOPE: Most of these same guys beat bowl-bound Colorado State, BYU and Utah, all by double figures, came within a field goal of league champ TCU and defended Ohio State relatively well (27 points).
REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: Most of these same guys lost to UNLV, got fairly waylaid by Air Force and New Mexico and only mustered six against the Buckeyes.
IF THIS TEAM WERE ANY POP CULTURAL, HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY OR OTHERWISE NOTABLE FIGURE, IT WOULD BE... Perhaps, ironically, the obscure Dieguenos of Yuman heritage, part of the Mission Indian group that included fragments of Shoshonean tribes related to people of Mexican Baja California, which actually does, therefore, have some Aztec influence. But, like the football team, tucked way down in a minor conference on the West Coast, nobody ever payed much any attention to the Dieguenos, either.
HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING: Six wins, freeze out of a minor bowl. There is some experience, but where the new attitude is concerned, it would be nice if a couple standouts were around to be reformed.
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Previous absurdly premature assessments:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: Brigham Young...April 6: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal...April 11: Rutgers...April 12: Marshall...April 13: Florida State
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