Aztecs' Spring Game Offense: The Good and the Ugly
Although starting running back Donnel Pumphrey and starting quarterback Quinn Kaehler didn’t participate in the scrimmage, media and fans still got a good look at what will change the most for the Aztecs next season: offense.
Here’s what looked good and what looked straight up ugly.
The running backs battling for SDSU’s powerback role ran well Wednesday night. Junior Chase Price, the favorite to win the job, carried the ball 21 times for 106 yards and a couple touchdowns. Junior Dwayne Garrett didn’t play quite as well, gaining 46 yards on 13 carries. Redshirt freshman Marcus Stamps has emerged from the depth chart and has been right at Price’s heels all spring. This is a little surprising because both Price and Garrett have some career playing time—Stamps has zero. But he played a great game, picking up 73 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
Head coach Rocky Long told media that he believes the powerback race will come down to Price and Stamps—we’ll see if he’s right.
San Diego State also showed its depth at wideout on Wednesday night, and boy, will the Aztecs need that depth; they lose three senior receivers next year. Two slot receivers really stood out; sophomore Lloyd Mills (a 5-foot-10, 165-pound speed freak, as indicated by the video) showed off his route-running ability and caught five passes for 34 yards and one touchdown—which forced the game to overtime.
Another slot wideout, junior Jemond Hazely, impressed those in attendance with three catches for 51 yards. Both Mills and Hazely will fight for the second slot wideout spot behind senior Ezell Ruffin, who only played a couple series on Wednesday.
Several SDSU receivers battling for the top outside role made some impressive catches on Wednesday, but junior Larry Clark proved why he’s the favorite to be that top outside target. He caught just three passes for 30 yards, but wowed everyone in attendance when he soared through the air and snatched the game-winning, 9-yard touchdown away from the defensive back in the right corner of the end zone. Coach Long said after the game that he’s excited to see just how good his wideout group can be this year.
“I think we've got good receivers,” he said. “After losing three seniors, you'd think you would be nervous about it, but I think our receivers are going to be really good."
Turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers. SDSU’s backup quarterbacks in freshman Nick Bawden and junior Brad Odeman had some great moments, but also combined for three interceptions.
Junior running back Paul Sierra, redshirt freshman tight end David Wells and Price all coughed up the ball once—luckily the offense fell on Price’s fumble. Coach Long lamented over his offense’s turnover problems, but also praised his defense for forcing the turnovers.
“On offense, we can't turn the ball over like that. And on defense, you're happy they're causing turnovers,” he said. “So you never win in the spring game.”