Posted by Tom Fornelli
There were a lot of questions facing San Diego State this season coming off of a bowl appearance, and perhaps none of them were bigger than trying to figure out how the Aztecs would replace the production of their top two receivers from 2010: Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. That question just got a lot harder to answer on Thursday when we learned that San Diego State would be without both Dominique Sandifer and Jay Waddell for the entire 2011 season.
SDSU’s most experienced returning receiver, junior Dominique Sandifer, has been ruled out for the coming season with a knee injury suffered during offseason drills. Redshirt freshman receiver Jay Waddell also hurt his knee in the offseason and will be out for the year.
Looking at the bright side of it, head coach Rocky Long said, “We don’t see it as a big blow because we had inexperienced receivers anyway.”
“They were all going to be given a chance in the fall,” Long said. “The ones that played the best were going to get a chance to play. I don’t think situation has changed dramatically whatsoever.”
Long may have a point in his response to the news, but no matter how he tries to brush it off, this is still a big blow to the Aztecs offense. Sandifer may not have had a lot of experience in his career, but he's still the most experienced receiver San Diego State has after making 23 catches for 263 yards last season. He was also slated to be the Aztecs' deep threat in 2011, and while tight end Gavin Escobar will be a useful target for quarterback Ryan Lindley, he's not exactly going to stretch the field.
The upcoming season is going to be an important one for the Aztecs. Even though Brady Hoke left for Michigan, the expectations with the program are high enough that a second consecutive bowl appearance is the expectation. With Lindley, Ronnie Hillman and Walter Kazee all back, the Aztecs had the weapons on offense to ensure that it would happen again provided that the inexperienced receiving corps stepped up.
Now that Sandifer has been lost, along with Waddell, nobody can be sure what will happen to a passing attack that finished 12th in the nation in yards per game last season.