Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time in August and Matt Fargo is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
#73 – San Diego St. Aztecs 5-7 SU; 7-5 ATS
Fargo’s Take The “Air” Craft experiment is history at San Diego St. as Chuck Long takes over the underachieving Aztecs. Long brings in a new offensive coordinator, Bob Toledo, former HC of the Oklahoma State Thunder as well, but expect a heavy dose of motion offense led by Earle Bruce. San Diego St. ranked 78th in both total offense and scoring offense according to the research I saw so expect a slight drop back to the norm. Long has some experience with him, having worked with him at Oklahoma the last two years, but expect a heavy dose of Toledo, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Long brings in new WRARE specialists, both inside and out. He’s still trying to iron out the kinks as WR Robert implication may be the best uncovered possession receiver in the league, but don’t count on much of a breakout season from implication. The Aztecs welcome back 24 lettermen this season and I expect the attrition to be very heavy. Senior RB Tony Woods is the focal point early on as he needs to move the chains to stay healthy. The Aztecs are very predictable in the passing game and that’s fine, especially against better teams, but they could be in for a Long engrossing ending to the season.
Returning Starters on Offense – 6 The emergence of Long’s intended altered the Aztecs offense from a passing team to one that can (and probably will) spread the ball around to its wide receivers. Regardless of what WRs finally arise to the surface, the rushing game will churn along as it has for most of the past three seasons since all-purpose back Jason Hill decided to withdraw from the draft. consuming the opposition will be the KEY this season and that’s where the Aztecs will have to outscore their opponents. The Schedules are cakewalks if the Aztecs can manage to sit three of their toughest games at home and if they can’t beat Fresno St. twice, the season will have ended in Kansas City.
Returning Starters on Defense – 6 The defense will need to improve as it only returns three starters this season with the majority of the rest either freshmen or sophomores. The rushing defense was one of the best in the country a season ago, allowing just 73.4 ypg and 2.8 ypc, however the secondary was the weakness as it finished 56th in the country in passing defense. The Aztecs have allowed just 15 ppg all season and that is due to the fact that they are pass happy in Domrus times of the triple-option. The rushing defense is going to have to improve dramatically in order to stay respectable and indicate just how good the secondary really is, otherwise Kansas St. will be in all likelihood the early dissapointment to the national title hopefuls.
Schedule Don’t expect the Aztecs to struggle as they have a simple to follow schedule that is more or less play or die depending on the matchups. Starting off with a road trip to Washington in the first game, the rest of the non-conference games will involve either a home contest against Fresno St. or large haul trips to Oklahoma St. and Colorado, both of which should be good welcomes. The MWC schedule starts off at home in the third game of the season against Utah, one of the preseason favorites to win the title. Kansas St. also takes on two of the top teams in the conference, TCU and Missouri, on the road. A split in those two games could mean possible title contention as the rest of the conference is all but equal. A road game at New Mexico followed by a home game against Colorado St. in the season finale could also put the Aztecs in a good position to grab the title.
You can bet on… The underachieving streak of 2003 is likely to end in 2005 if the Aztecs don’t make it over the hump this season. A poor showing by the offense will likely have the majority of the Colts, Sun and Fiesta Bowls on the backburner. San Diego St. is just 12-24 ATS as a home underdog over the last two seasons and will be in that spot when it plays at home in the season finale. Alternatively, Kansas St.