San Diego State football kicks off their Fall camp today, and with the Aztecs picked to win the West Division of the Mountain West this year, the anticipation couldn't be higher. SDSU head coach Rocky Long held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to talk about camp and the upcoming season. Here are some of the highlights:
On starting quarterbacks:
- Long notes Maxwell Smith's size, age, and experience as strengths going into camp, where the Kentucky transfer will be competing for the starting quarterback job.
He's played in stadiums with a lot of people and a lot of noise, and against good players, so you would guess that's one of his advantages. He's been there before.
- Christian Chapman is also a front-runner for the starting quarterback position, but neither he nor Smith have an edge going into camp. SDSU's offensive staff will decide when they're ready to announce a starting quarterback. Long hopes it's sooner than later.
On playing USD:
- Long hopes that SDSU's season opener against USD will bring the community together and bring people out to the game. Later in the press conference, Long added that despite the fact that a win against USD would not count towards bowl eligibility, the alternative would be one less game in the schedule. He strongly believes that the team deserves to play 12 games.
On running backs:
- The biggest strength for the 2015 Aztecs is their run game.
Strongest position on our team is running back. We've got one of the premiere running backs in the country. In my opinion the best running back in the league. But most people don't know that there's three guys behind him who can play too.
- Donnel (Deejay) Pumphrey proved in 2014 that despite his size, he could not only carry the ball 25-30 times per game, but he could get past tackles with great success. Long compared his ability to outrun tackles to former Aztecs running back Ronnie Hillman.
But Ronnie didn't run between the tackles like Deejay does.
On the Aztecs' new uniforms:
- Unlike most people upon seeing the Aztecs' newly-revealed uniforms for 2015, Long didn't have much to say and didn't seem to care about them.
I've been told it was cool. I have no coolness about me... I'm just going by what I was told.
On the defense:
- Long like the experience of the defense going into 2015. Last year, everyone was new, but this year most of them are returners.
- Where he does have some concern is in the linebacker depth. This is where the least experience is on the defensive side.
- JJ Whitaker is a great leader for the team, and he leads the "right way" with his personality, work ethic, and pride in addition to his talent on the field.
On the offense:
- The offensive line is a concern going into camp. There are a lot of guys who haven't played much before.
- Aztecs specifically need to address holes at guard, center, and tackle.
- Because of suspensions, only two o-linemen will be coming back to start the season, so there will be three brand new starters when the season opens.
- Run blocking is the biggest concern since running the ball will be a big part of the game for the Aztecs. They need guys who can block for them. If the Aztecs can run the ball well, that will also make pass protection less difficult.
As good as [our] running backs are, if they don't get to get started, they can't show you how good they are.
On Desean Holmes
"We've actually talked to DeSean, so that's progress."
- The coaching staff talked to Holmes in person for first time last Saturday, and a couple more times since then.
- He has some academic issues that need to be addressed before he can join the team, but academic institutions are still in Summer recess. Though Holmes won't join the team at camp, he will hopefully be there for the start of school. He has indicated that he wants to show up.
- When asked why he wasn't answering or returning phone calls, Holmes didn't provide an answer.
- Other than Holmes, all other recruits are cleared academically. One recruit, Jatory (Sparks) Brown, might be grayshirted for the 2015 season due to a knee injury he sustained in his senior year of high school, from which he hasn't yet fully recovered.