Youth will hold Aztecs back


Photo by Kelly Smiley

Sophomore tight end Kahale Warring blocks a UC Davis defender.

by Tony Zarate, Staff Writer

With its win over UC Davis the San Diego State football team showed a lot of promise. The 2016 team had nothing short of the greatest season in school history, so the question remains: will this year’s team be lost in its predecessor’s footsteps?

Last season, the Aztecs were led by FBS all-time leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey and current Atlanta Falcons cornerback Damontae Kazee.

Head coach Rocky Long will have the task of developing and restocking young and growing athletes.

The star of this years offense is senior running back Rashaad Penny. Last season he showed he is able to fill Pumphrey’s shoes, while rushing for over 1,000 yards.  In the week one victory against Davis, Penny got off to a fast start by rushing for a career high 197 yards on 21 carries. Penny’s job is not only to pound the rock, but also be a leader on the team.

It is still early in the season and there is a lot of football to be played, but SDSU has its hands full with their upcoming schedule. On Sept. 16, the Aztecs will have to sharpen their spears before going to war against the Stanford Cardinals, their toughest opponent this season. A powerhouse in the Pac-12 conference, Stanford has experience playing in high stakes games, something young Aztec players are missing.

Young players such as true freshman safety Tariq Thompson, and redshirt freshmen offensive linemen Keith Ismael and Tyler Roemer, have yet to play in a game as big as this. SDSU also heads to Idaho for a tough road matchup at Boise State on Oct. 14, which will be another big test for a team looking to show it still belongs.

There are high hopes for redshirt junior Christian Chapman, but is he truly the man that the team’s younger quarterbacks, such backup redshirt sophomore Ryan Agnew and freshman Cameron Roane, can look up to? Chapman threw for less than 2000 yards last season with a 61 percent completion rate, and at times seemed hidden behind the limelight of Pumphrey. If Chapman is to be the man for the remainder of this coming year and in the future, the quarterback from Carlsbad High School still has a lot to prove.

After finishing last season ranked No. 25 overall in national polls, the Aztecs have put themselves in the conversation. The future of this team has potential to be nationally ranked once again, and with Long’s expertise and leadership of current players like Penny, SDSU can reach even greater heights.

But the Aztecs rely on their stars and veterans, and in the future without those leaders, a bright future on the Mesa is in question.