Aztecs Plan to Open up Passing Game in 2018

SDSU's offense might not rely as much on the run as it has in recent years

Watching San Diego State’s offense during training camp something stands out. The Aztecs, a run-centric offense for the last few years under head coach Rocky Long, are spinning the ball deep down the field.

A lot.

So is this something we’re going to see more of in 2018?

“Yes,” said senior quarterback Christian Chapman. “Especially with Coach Morgan (QB coach Blane Morgan) emphasizing we want to hit at least five deep balls a practice for touchdowns so when we go into a game we want to hit those big shots.”

This is not an insignificant development. Last season the Aztecs had the nation’s 10th-most prolific rushing offense … but ranked 117th (out of 129 schools) in passing offense. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph had more passing yards by the first quarter of Week 6 than the Aztecs had all season.

But Chapman, who’s started since the end of his freshman season, has earned the trust of the coaching staff. They’re going to allow him to make more changes at the line of scrimmage and work the ball downfield.

“I pretty much know this offense just like the coaches do,” said Chapman. “I’m in the room calling out things just like they do. So they’re going to give me the freedom to make those adjustments on the fly, even check from a run to a pass. We did that a little bit last year but I think I’m going to get more freedom this year.”

Now this doesn’t mean SDSU is suddenly going to turn into the Air Raid offense. They’re still going to rely a lot on junior running back Juwan Washington. They’re simply going to be more balanced. In fact an improved passing game will likely help open up even more running lanes since teams can’s stack a bunch of defenders near the line of scrimmage.

“It’s really exciting just to know that there’s not going to be so many guys in there,” said Washington. “You can see the field more and know they’re not all stacked in there.”

The vast majority of college offenses have gone up-tempo with plays called from the sidelines and very little analysis by the quarterback. The Aztecs are almost a throwback, and Chapman won’t have it any other way.

“I think it’s an NFL offense. It’s a traditional offense,” said Chapman. “It’s what I ran (at Carlsbad High School). That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here. I wanted to play in a pro-style offense because I think this is real football. I think in the trenches, that’s where the fight is and that’s where you want to be.”

The question now is: who’s going to catch all these extra passes?

The Aztecs receivers are not exactly long in the tooth. They have 16 wideouts on the roster and 11 are freshmen. The only one with more than six career receptions is also the only senior (Fred Trevillion, who has 12 catches in his entire career). Kahale Warring has emerged as one of the most physically gifted tight ends in the nation but he’s a junior who didn’t play football until his senior year of high school.

But there is talent out there on the edge and it’ll be helped by the guys in the middle. Washington is already being talked about as the Aztecs’ next 2,000 yard running back and four starters return on an offensive line that averages 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds. So you can see why they’re quietly confident about their offensive capabilities both on the ground and through the air.

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