Spring Practice Primer: San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State finished the 2012 regular season with seven straight wins and earned a share of the Mountain West title.
College football never ends. And during the next few weeks, teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the San Diego State Aztecs and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice begins: Feb. 25
Spring game: March 23
2012 record: 9-4 overall, 7-1 Mountain West
Returning starters: 17 (eight offense, nine defense)
The Least You Should Know about San Diego State This Spring
-- Gavin Escobar (and others) left big shoes to fill at tight end. San Diego State coach Rocky Long already identified the tight end position as his biggest concern going into spring practice. Not only did Gavin Escobar (41 catches, 519 yards, six touchdowns) decide to enter the NFL Draft, but the Aztecs also lost two more tight ends to graduation. Adam Roberts, who will be a junior in the fall, appeared in 12 games last season but recorded just two receptions. Aaron Boesch, Nick Rudolph, and Mike Miller have yet to make their San Diego State debuts but will each have an opportunity to compete for snaps this spring.
-- Searching for a pair of cornerbacks. Nine returning starters on defense puts Long's unit in a great position to continue the defensive play that helped the Aztecs win seven straight games to clinch a share of the Mountain West title. Replacing first-team All-MWC cornerback Leon McFadden and Josh Wade will be key to restocking the secondary of San Diego State's 3-3-5 scheme. The staff could end up rotating some players due to defensive backs King Holder and Marcus Andrews (shoulder injuries) sitting out all of spring practice. The continuity everywhere else on the defense will help, but developing strong corner play will be essential to get the most out of the unit in the fall.
-- Bob Toledo's new offensive scheme will be installed this spring. Long was able to replace Andy Ludwig (now offensive coordinator on Gary Andersen's Wisconsin staff) with Bob Toledo, former head coach at UCLA and Tulane. Toledo elected to come out of retirement to rejoin Long -- Toledo hired Rocky Long as UCLA's defensive coordinator -- and install a new pro-style system that he compares to the one run by Alabama.
"We're going to be a big run-play-action team," Toledo explained to GoAztecs.com. "I'd like to throw the ball a little bit more than we did a year ago. We'll do very similar to what the pros are doing. I'm not a big zone-read-option guy. Every game, we'll have a couple of trick plays, as well."
Toledo understands the Aztecs don't have the same personnel as the two-time defending champs, but he does have an experienced back in Adam Muema. Muema totaled 1,458 yards (6.15 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012. The Aztecs also have plenty of experience back along the offensive line, even with the graduation of two starters from last year's unit.
-- Will Adam Dingwell be pushed at quarterback? Adam Dingwell earned the right to start spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback after stepping in for Ryan Katz (fractured ankle) midseason and leading the team to a conference title. But Long did say there would be competition for the starting job this spring. The roster includes Jake Bernards, a three-year backup with just one career attempt, and rising sophomores Chad Jeffries and Matt Morin. Whether Dingwell locks up the starting job likely will go hand-in-hand with the installation of Toledo's offense. Last season, the offense relied more on Muema's ground attack -- particularly after Katz's injury. This spring will be Dingwell's chance to prove he can thrive with more emphasis on the aerial attack.
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