WR Jeff Webb (PHOTO BY: Ernie Anderson)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Tom Craft
14-22, 3 years
2004 Record: 4-7
at Michigan LOST 21-24
at UCLA LOST 10-33
at Wyoming LOST 10-20
at New Mexico LOST 9-19
at Brigham Young LOST 16-49
at Air Force WON 37-31

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

Tom Craft is offensive-minded enough such that he needs little help to know what he can/will do week-in, week-out. San Diego State has ridden this former Aztec player/alum to massive improvements on both sides of the pigskin, seeing consistency on defense that only Utah and BYU upset in ‘04. State’s pension for high flying via its “Air Craft” approach on offense will again be on display, though the running game will be strong enough (especially with two dual-threat QBs on hand) so that their run/pass balance will make defenders even more unsure.

Craft has built a strong program at the third largest school in the nation’s largest state, recruiting above his head and overachieving with what is usually deemed average talent. Four years of holding the reigns now brings a well-“Crafted” group that is on the same page with the boss. The biggest test this time around will be shoring up the LBs – since these prospects are all of Craft’s doing, his eye (as a scout) and prowess (as a coach) will be determinant as to how the entire defense plays out. If the LBs are the weak link, holding the slate’s most competitive teams under 30 will be a challenge.

As in his first year (2002) – when SDSU was picked to finish last in the conference but finished tied for third – the Aztecs should surprise a few who won’t foresee the team’s quality on the horizon. But within all of these “glass half full” points, Craft has struggled (9-12) in the Mountain West, and has really pined against I-A non-cons, going 2-10 outside the league (against I-A foes). Strong outings against Ohio State and Michigan, both three point losses, show the potential - what the Aztecs might be able to become - if consistency can be found. Forays into Columbus, Honolulu and San Jose, plus UCLA at home, will challenge State to break this mold; going 2-1 in those outside tilts and then breaking even in a rebalanced MWC would mean their first winning season (and a likely bowl bid) since 1998.

Montezuma Mesa has been surprisingly dormant during these leaner years, but a huge light is now at the end of the tunnel as a resurgence is imminent. If Craft finishes under .500 again, though, his tenure could be drawing neigh.

Projected 2005 record: 3-9
DB Marcus Demps (PHOTO BY: Stan Liu)
QB - 3.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 3 LB - 2
WR - 3 DB - 1
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Kevin O'Connell, 235-115-9, 1328 yds., 9 TD; Matt Dlugolecki, 203-123-8, 1349 yds., 6 TD

Rushing: Brandon Bornes, 133 att., 578 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Jeff Webb, 71 rec., 863 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Garrett Palmer, 12-21 FG, 26-27 PAT, 62 pts.

Punting: Michael Hughes, 44 punts, 38.0 avg.

Kicking: Garrett Palmer, 12-21 FG, 26-27 PAT, 62 pts.

Tackles: Marcus Demps, 35 tot., 30 solo

Sacks: Antwan Applewhite, 4.5 sacks

Interceptions: Donny Baker, 2 for 27 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Brandon Bornes, 15 ret., 19.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Michael Franklin, 7 ret., 10.6 avg., 0 TD



OFFENSE: Jeremy Justice-TE, Mike Kracalik-OL, Devin Pitts-WR, Kyle Conerly-KR/PR

DEFENSE: Hubert Caliste-CB, Josh Dean-SS, Heath Farwell-SLB, Stephen Larsen-SLB, Blake Lobel-DT, Aloalii Lealofi-DE, Kirk Morrison-MLB, Marviel Underwood-FS, Matt McCoy-WLB (NFL)


There remains uncertainty heading into the fall as to who will start, but the candidates should make coach Craft and fans feel good about their prospects. Soph Kevin O’Connell went 2-3 as a starter, but with so much youth and inexperience, 2004’s freshman results (nine TDs and INTs) do not reflect his probable impact for this year. O’Connell is presently sitting out (recovering from shoulder surgery), but his “huge” stature in both the pocket and in the open field (he ran well enough to finish 3rd in team rushing) make him tops on the depth chart for now, and likely when he returns. Senior Matt Dlugolecki, the shortest of the three QBs at 6’4”, gives State a pure passer who has proven himself in ultimate combat (in both Ann Arbor and Columbus, he lost by only three points). But Dlugolecki doesn’t run well and has been streaky, so RS frosh Darren Mougey and his sprier legs also will likely play a role in how the unit is utilized (Mougey impressed this spring). Craft will name the starter by August, but figure O’Connell has the inside track until something changes.

Running Back
This group, too, has three candidates who could each carry the starting load. But the return of Stockton sophomore Lynell Hamilton from a broken ankle should jumpstart the entire running game. State did well rotating ex-LB Brandon Bornes (inside the tackles) and now-senior Michael Franklin for optimal effect. Franklin has soft hands and surprising power for 5’7”. But SDSU ran behind a group of inexperienced linemen, so look for this unit to raise the bar and its results as the line is now rather strong. Hamilton, bigger and faster than Bornes, took his 2003 freshman all-American (and all-MWC) accolade(s) into spring and proved why he still sits atop the three-deep. But we still expect to see some parity in the distribution of carries, regardless of who starts. H-back Faleselau Poumele adds size and upperclassmanship to the unit, but will see only a handful of touches as he plows the opposition(s).

The best returning WR in the conference (based on catches), Jeff Webb is a solid SE, and don’t be surprised when he is found a bit deeper in opposing secondaries this campaign. Local (Horizon) slot guy Rob Ortiz, similarly sized, is the corps’ other cornerstone. These two seniors lead a rather rag-tag group of quality, yet unproven snarlers (flanker). If injured, depth issues would create, least of all, a leadership vacuum, and moreover, a drop-off in potential for what State brings as its passing game. But realize that State will have another influx of three-star (or better) recruits whose faces will be recognized in San Diego once given the opportunity to prove themselves, so downtime will be minimized if there are changes at the top. This group is solid overall, but is also still emerging, and will therefore be inconsistent at times.

Tight End
Though they lose a real talent, State should be fine here. Sophomore Lance Louis is primed to take the position even further as both he and Eric Miclot have enough to make foes see double-trouble coming off the line - both have size and hands to go with some speed. Accordingly, coaches think at least 30 will be thrown their way.

Offensive Line
This group was young, untested and ungelled in ’04 (nine different combinations started over their 11 games), but potential will be reached as six return with some starting experience. After a strong spring for this line, offensive production will only get better. Senior Chris Pino, a former JC all-American, has solidified the crucial left tackle spot with unusual speed for his size. His linemate at Palomar College (who ironically remains such here after both transferred to San Diego prior to ’04) was/is LG Taylor Schmidt. Similarly sized but a step slower, this senior will again anchor the unit via technique and versatility (he was their center last year). Back at center - after a school-issued suspension (one year off) and after spending another season at guard - is Jasper Harvey, who didn’t allow a sack in 2003 as their middleman. The rest of the other side looks more vulnerable, but nothing a few tough warm-up games shouldn’t “right”.

You will surely see much more efficiency from what was a bunch of greenies, but is now a battle-tested and steady group. QB O’Connell has that dual capacity that makes LBs flatfooted and safeties constantly in no-man’s-land. If he cannot hit over 50%, which he didn’t last year (48.7), we will see rope-thrower Dlugolecki or fleet-footed Mougey, either of whom can also make these offensive gears turn. State can further balance (threw it 55%) the play-calling with their capable stable of runners and a stout line, and the quality receivers guarantee that this side of the ball does betters last campaign’s 56th ranking for total offense. An increase in the percentage of running plays will also increase the team’s average per catch, a huge need for a team that had no perennial deep threat last year. Pushing the TE button early and often will also open adjacent routes and therefore make the machine run better, so watch Louis’ and Miclot’s stat lines as a gauge for team success.


RB Lynell Hamilton (PHOTO BY: Ernie Anderson)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Kevin O'Connell-So (6-6, 215) Matt Dlugolecki-Sr (6-4, 225)
RB Lynell Hamilton-So (6-1, 220) Brandon Bornes-So (6-1, 230)
Michael Franklin-Sr (5-7, 180)
WR Chazeray Schilens-So (6-4, 200) DeMarco Sampson-Fr (6-2, 185)
Fale Poumele-Sr (6-0, 245) (HB)
WR Jeff Webb-Sr (6-3, 200) Marcus Edwards-Sr (6-1, 200)
WR Robert Ortiz-Sr (6-1, 200) Brett Swain-So (6-1, 200)
Ramal Porter-Jr (5-9, 165)
TE Lance Louis-So (6-3, 260) Eric Miclot-So (6-5, 240)
Adam Miller-Sr (6-3, 230)
OT Will Robinson-So (6-6, 270) Eric Rouser-Fr (6-8, 260)
OG Taylor Schmidt-Sr (6-4, 325) Brandyn Dombrowski-So (6-5, 317)
C Nick Smith-Jr (6-6, 295) Patrick Justman-Jr (6-5, 300)
OG Chris Pino-Sr (6-5, 330) Mike Kravetz-So (6-5, 290)
OT Robert Nelson-Jr (6-10, 320) Ramsey Fiapai-Jr (6-3, 285)
K Garrett Palmer-So (6-2, 160) ..



Defensive Line
Senior end Kurt Kahui is one of two sure-fire linemen ready to make waves. The athletic Kahui motivates via example, often occupying two hats as he proves his worth for a full 60 minutes per week. Also assured is the return of two-year starting junior Jonathan Bailes at tackle. Bailes moves well for his size, and has the results that mean he can’t be ignored in foes’ game-plans, either. The rest of the news is iffy, at best. DT Emil Metroka and DE Robert Miller, both projected starters who are out due to spring knee surgery, may not be back by campaign’s start, and the backups represent a drop off. Overall, losses to graduation (also at LB; see below) make repeating as a run-stopping unit ranked in the top-third nothing certain, but steady improvements will be seen after State’s brutal opening non-con games “season” the Aztec’s “chops”.

Losses here will cut even deeper, as no starters return. Special teams maven and former-RB Freddie Keiaho is their speedy, undersized starting MLB who brings surprising toughness inside. Keiaho has the corps’ most experience (three letters), yet will still represent a step down from what came prior. Joe Martin is slated for the strongside, and, though capable, he has yet to shine as expected. Unrelated, sophomore Brett Martin is another highly-touted work in progress as he battles for the weakside spot – all in all, the corps is light and lean, but untested and sure to be pushed around until they prove some worth. In rating just how different one year can be from the next, this is perhaps the most impacted LB unit in the nation. Early tests will, too here, make for hard lessons that will pay off by the second half of the season.

Defensive Back
Three starters are lost, but prospects here (unlike in the front seven) look to provide a rather seamless transition. The corners appear strong, with smallish junior Donnie Baker (13 PBUs) and senior Jacob Elimimian (14 PBUs in ’03) looking sharp in spring. Depth here means nickel and dime packages will shine. Senior Marcus Demps returns to his free safety spot (team’s leading returning tackler) after showing why he is the defense’s best player by playing corner in ‘04. We are excited about another junior Palomar-transfer, Josh Gomez, who could easily start if career backup Reggie Grigsby, though a hard hitter, doesn’t play as consistently as needed. With 59 passes broken up last year and 110 over the last two, expect to see more of the same – SDSU backs keeping the plays in front of them with quality results.

The Aztec’s ability to rely on their stellar LBs is gone – State will be lucky if the other units aren’t marginalized as they overlap their usual duties with underneath coverages and run-support. The secondary should help without losing its focus, but the line will have its own work cut out even more so with two projected starters still recovering (knee surgeries) possibly into the fall. The LBs won’t be horrible, but the new unit will require the entire D to rebalance, an effort that will take a few games so that adjustments can be maximized for effectiveness. Defensive consistency was predicated by the LBs, a role the DBs will now need to prove they can handle. We expect to see holes in the early showings sown up by October, or we will see weekly scoring fests wherever the Aztec’s play.


DT Jonathan Bailes (PHOTO BY: Stan Liu)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Antwan Applewhite-So (6-3, 235) Robert Miller-Sr (6-6, 247)
DT Jonathan Bailes-Jr (6-1, 305) Brian Wilson-Fr (6-2, 280)
DT Emil Metroka-Jr (6-3, 285) Johnathan Tu'ua-Fr (6-3, 265)
DE Kurt Kahui-Sr (6-1, 245) Nick Osborn-So (6-4, 260)
SLB Joe Martin-Jr (6-1, 225) Andrew Schantz-Fr (6-2, 225)
MLB Freddie Keiaho-Sr (6-0, 230) Russell Allen-Fr (6-3, 220)
WLB Brett Martin-So (6-0, 215) Stephen Houston-Fr (6-1, 210)
CB Donny Baker-Jr (5-9, 170) Jared Cleaver-Jr (6-0, 190)
CB Terrell Maze-Jr (5-11, 175) Jacob Elimimian-Sr (5-11, 185)
SS Reggie Grigsby-Sr (5-11, 210) T.J. McKay-Fr (6-0, 180)
FS Marcus Demps-Sr (6-1, 205) Josh Gomez-Jr (6-1, 195)
P Michael Hughes-So (5-10, 170) ..




Sophomore Jarrett Palmer has impressed since his arrival, though his inconsistent nature could again cost the Aztecs a win or two (his two misses in Ann Arbor represented the tying and winning points, if made). Palmer should settle in and be that much better. Coverage was adequate, but will also improve as State’s extra DBs make this so.

Michael Hughes is another sophomore who had an inconsistent first year. A booming leg was often tamed as placement took precedence over power. Coverage was, and will continue to be, excellent, but finishing 89th for net average (33.2 ypp) isn’t going to win any field position battles. As seen in spring, State needs to turn this guy loose and let the coverage unit pick up the slack, or allow Palmer (who had a 48-yarder in the Red-Black game) to take over here, too.

Return Game
The only thing for sure here is the return of Bornes as one of SDSU’s KR specialists. Bornes is capable, but wildcard Keiaho has the best average (22.3 ypr in ‘02) in State’s last five campaigns. Speedy Mikey Franklin will assure the PR duties are performed well, but nothing is for sure within this assignment - uncertainty will only be displaced by game-tested results. Expect quite a few candidates to rotate before one settles in.