It's not back to square one with the new coaching staff in San Diego, but Brady Hoke has set a more athletic starting point for his players, and the team is scrambling to catch up. Brady Hoke is pushing the Aztecs to practice at game speed.
Nick Sandford and Martrell Fantroy are battling to be the starting "Aztec" back-- the hybrid safety/linebacker that Brian Urlacher made famous under Rockly Long's tutelege at New Mexico. Long is SDSU's new DC. Long's 3-3-5 is linebacker friendly, and senior LB Luke Laolagi and junior Andrew Preston are returning starters.
The Aztecs installed over 85 percent of the schemes in the spring, and pushed the offense around mercilessly, doing so. Tommie Draheim is pushing Trask Iosefa at center; Jonathan Soto and B.J. Williams return as DEs; several others are competing for NT and end. Among the many Aztecs who missed most of '08 with injuries is junior RB Davon Brown, who joins returners Attiyah Henderson and Brandon Sullivan, and newcomers Anthony Miller and Ronnie Hillman in competition to liven SDSU's running game in '09. That said, neither Brown, Henderson, or Sullivan has nailed down the starting spot. Brown impressed in the team's first scrimmage, (and second, too) as did junior TE Alston Umuolo. Senior WR Roberto Wallace impressed in the second scrimmage, in which 15 players recorded tackles for losses.
In the Aztecs' spring game, seniors DeMarco Sampson and Jon Toledo looked as good as junior all-MWC receiver Vincent Brown; the winners ate steak afterwards, the losers: hotdogs ($). Ryan Lindley finished 18-of-37 for 235 yards and a touchdown, directing the Black squad to victory and the steak dinner. Neither team's ground game impressed.