The guy calling the shots for San Diego State during the first practice of the spring was familiar. But many of the others guiding players through the motions for the first time in 2020 were not. In spite of the newness, Brady Hoke seems to think the group is coming together pretty well.
"I think the players and coaches have done a good job getting to know each other," Hoke said after practice. "You can see that in how the guys respond."
Hoke spent 2019 as Rocky Long's defensive line coach, before taking over the top job in January. He then overhauled the SDSU coaching staff, including the addition of new offensive coordinator Jeff Hecklinski and defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix.
Despite the relative unfamiliarity, there was no easing into Monday's practice - which was the biggest takeaway for Hoke.
"I think more than anything was the effort guys were giving. I think the coaching that was going on was really good."
Hoke liked the energy of his group, saying it was nice to get back to playing football after spending time lifting and going through drills.
There will be some notable new faces between the lines as well. Hoke and Hecklinski will have to decide on a new starting quarterback after the graduation of Ryan Agnew. There are four guys currently in the competition, including Helix grad Carson Baker who backed up Agnew in 2019, made one start, and threw for 172 yards and a score.
Defensively the Aztecs will have to replace two-time Mountain West first team linebacker Kyahva Tezino. Also among the departures from the 2019 team was Luq Barcoo, who had eight interceptions as a senior.
San Diego State will be on the field for the next few weeks, highlighted by the Spring Game on March 21st.