Rocky Long and his Aztecs will open their season in Seattle against the Washington Huskies. Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Know the Opponent: San Diego State Aztecs

We move closer to the top 10 with our eleventh team on the list – San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference. Rocky Long’s team went 8-5 last season going 4-3 in the MWC, which will be the Aztecs last before moving to the Big East Conference in 2013.

SDSU is replacing their quarterback who was drafted but they’ve got a senior transfer who should win the job. Ryan Katz, who is familiar having started his career at Oregon State before transferring south. Behind him is a junior, sophomore and redshirt freshman should Katz stumble in winning the job.

The Aztecs also need to replace their running back from last season with Ronnie Hillman leaving early for the draft. Sophomore Adam Muema who ran for 253 yards with three scores will likely start but also getting a shot will be senior Walter Kazee. Kazee rushed for 339 yard last season reaching the endzone four times.

One of the positives is that the team returns its top three receivers from 2011 with junior Colin Lockett back after a 970 yard season with eight TD’s. Second on the team last season was another junior tight end, Gavin Escobar, who had 780 yards reaching the endzone seven times. The third returner is another JR with Dylan Denso who caught 49 passes for 634 yard including three scores.

Coach Long is known for the 3-3-5 defense but will have one of his younger defenses this season. Junior Nat Berhe who plays the Aztec position is the leading returner with 67 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.  Sophomore middle linebacker Jake Fely had 58 tackles with 1.5 sacks, four TFL’s last season and will help the defense.

San Diego State will be the first team to see Century Link Field when they face the Washington Huskies on September 1 at 7:30 pm on the Pac-12 Network. The Aztecs schedule is pretty friendly with the exceptions of playing at Fresno State, Nevada, Boise State and a last November showdown at Wyoming. I think SDSU will be in the mix for the Mountain West title and could win 7-8 games with the potential for a few more if things fall right.

2012 San Diego State Aztecs Schedule –

@Washington 9/1
Army 9/8
North Dakota 9/15
San Jose State 9/22
@Fresno State 9/29
Hawai’i 10/6
Colorado State 10/13
@Nevada 10/20
UNLV 10/27
@Boise State 11/3
Air Force 11/10
@Wyoming 11/24

Check out the entire archive of “Know the Opponents,” a series of all Pac-12 non-conference opponent previews, here.

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Tags: Mountain West Conference Pac-12 Rocky Long San Diego State Aztecs Washington Huskies

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