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January 27, 2012

Mailbag on the Mesa

Editor's note: Every Friday ASR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Aztecs in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisASR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on ASR's Facebook page.

K5James: Sounds like Boise State is trying to poach Darien Barrett. Have you heard about any other commits getting visits from other schools?

Outside of punter Travis Coons, who just decommitted from SDSU a few hours ago, and Barrett, it doesn't appear that any other schools are chasing after any Aztec recruits at this point. Now I know other schools have contacted some of SDSU's recruits in the past few weeks / months, but all of the players say they greet the schools' phone calls with a polite, "No thanks."

If you're asking me what I think about all of these schools chasing after other schools' commitments, I think if a program has recruited you very hard for a long period of time, and you want to trip there and reaffirm your commitment, that's fine. I know Marc Pouvave did that with Utah and SDSU, I know Kendrick Mathis did that with Hawaii, Damontae Kazee did that with Washington and SDSU, and recently Coons did that with Washington as well. The list goes on and on.

But if you're a school (Boise State) and you haven't recruited a committed player up until this point, and now all the sudden you're all over him, I think that's a bit bush league. And if you're a committed player (Barrett) and are willing to listen to a school that hasn't recruited you up until this point, I think that's smalltime as well.

Luckily for SDSU, it sounds like Coons and Barrett are the only ones wavering as we're less than a week away from National Signing Day.


Rick: Besides the Robert Craighead and Bryce Quigley position changes, what other roster movement can we expect?

In our talk with Rocky Long on Thursday, he said those two were the only guys that would be moving at this point. From the sounds of things, it appears Quigley may very well have a great shot to start at left tackle this season, so it looks like at least one of those moves is already paying off.

As for other guys who can possibly move, Long basically has a formula. If you're a supreme athlete playing at a stacked position, and there's a need at a different position that you can play, SDSU is going to seriously consider moving you. Now plugging in the positions into that equation, clearly running back and receiver are your stacked positions with supreme athletes, while cornerback and safety are positions of need.

Taking a look at running back, by next fall, SDSU is set to have seven stellar athletes there: Walter Kazee, Adam Muema, Chase Price, Dwayne Garrett, De'Saan Hardwick, Brandon Wright and Alex Howard. Long has said he'd like to keep three in the mix, and then would possibly consider moving the rest. I think you might be able to tell which ones will likely stay and which ones could find a new position.

As for receiver, there are 13 guys set to go for SDSU this spring, plus incoming recruits Eric Judge and Lloyd Mills. While Long said the Aztecs could put in some spread-option wrinkles into their system next season, it won't be enough to justify having 15 wideouts on an 85-man squad. I think you could see a couple guys move from there as well. Outside of that, I think everyone is pretty much where they need to be.



Edgar: Who do you think are the front runners at quarterback, halfback, and wide receiver?

At quarterback, it has to be Ryan Katz. He's a fifth-year senior who Andy Ludwig clearly loves, as evidenced by how hard he recruited him these past few months. Long says it's a competition, however, and has stated Adam Dingwell will be the starter on Day One. The interesting thing about that competition, though, is Long only mentioned Katz, Dingwell and junior Jake Bernards, leaving out Chad Jeffries. Which means in a three-man battle with Katz, Dingwell and Bernards, the fifth-year senior from the Pac-12 better win that one.

With receiver, Brice Butler and Colin Lockett should be the starters on opening day with Dominique Sandifer finding a lot of playing time like he did when DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown were going wild outside the numbers a few years ago. My sleeper there though is Larry Clark. In drills last season, when he finally got healthy, he looked like hands down the best receiver on the team regardless of class. If he got better in the offseason, don't be surprised if he's pushing for starting time too.

Finally, running back is an easy one if he's healthy: Kazee. If he can return from the ACL injury, he's your no-brainer starter, especially considering there were games when he looked better than Ronnie Hillman last year. The coaching staff is also really high on Price and Garrett, and we've all seen what Muema can do as well, but Kazee is your guy if healthy.


Dario: Why did Rocky Long not look for a defensive coordinator this off-season?

The short answer is because he's the best one out there. Like I've said before, he's been running defenses and calling blitzes since before I was born, and probably you too. His 3-3-5 is innovative, so he's not behind the game, his teams respond well to his calls, and just by looking at his track record at SDSU alone, you should trust him.

The funny part about it all is people are only calling for this strictly because his defenses were awful in the first halves of games last year. Well whenever we asked him what he did differently with his calls and defenses in the second half, he would say "Honestly, nothing." That team, for whatever reason, just didn't want to execute until the second half of games.

Plus, when you take into account all the injuries he had on that defense, especially in the front seven, he did a pretty good job in my opinion. Everybody needs to step away from the panic button on this one.



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