February 17, 2012

Mailbag on the Mesa

Editor's note: Every Friday ASR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Aztecs in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisASR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on ASR's Facebook page.

Robert: Do you see SDSU getting a commit from Norvel Pelle? If so, who is the odd man out on the current roster?

I thought the most-asked question this week would surely be something about Winston Shepard, but the flood of "So what happens now if Pelle wants to come?" questions has been remarkable.

I want to be careful with my words here, because I know I've been slammed for this answer before. But in all reality, next year does not look good at all for Alec Williams or LaBradford Franklin, strictly from a playing time standpoint. It's not necessarily a knock on them, because SDSU's roster next season is absolutely loaded. But those two see little-to-no minutes on a nine-man team this year, and with Xavier Thames and Winston Shepard running the point next season, and James Johnson, J.J. O'Brien, Skylar Spencer and Deshawn Stephens in the front court, I just cannot fathom how Williams or Franklin will see significant minutes next year. So that's my answer to the second part of your question.

As for the first part, I don't see Pelle committing anytime soon, but I do see a scenario of him wanting to come to SDSU eventually, especially now that Shepard's on board. And if that situation does play out, I think the Aztecs have no choice but to make it work. He's a once-every-five-years kind of talent. A big, 7-footer, No. 1 overall center, athletic freak, and paired with Shepard and the rest of the Aztecs' 2012 lineup, you'd have a squad that could beat Kentucky in Kentucky nine times out of 10. It's almost scary to look at that potential roster on paper, and if it means encouraging somebody like Franklin or Williams to look for bigger minutes at other Division I schools, I think SDSU really, really considers it.


Matt: I saw your tweet that current grad assistant Mike Schmidt will coach the OL in the spring. Do you see him taking over the job here permanently or could he possibly be the temporary care taker while Mike Goff finishes off his degree?

Well for one, we're not even sure if Goff will be back helping the team this season. And for two, I really don't think SDSU has him in their plans for the offensive line coaching job anyway.

I think this job will be Schmidt's all year, and I really don't understand the fan resentment resonating from the move. The guy was a really good offensive lineman at State just a couple years ago, and he was tough as nails. I remember in Chuck Long's last game at SDSU, Schmidt played a ton of snaps with a torn up knee. And I don't know about you, but if as a player he was willing to put his body on the line for the Aztecs, I really think he'd be willing to put in the hours to be a great offensive line coach.

I mean the Dan Finn's and Darrell Funk's of the world all started out with some head coach giving them an opportunity even though they weren't proven yet. So I don't see why giving the OL coaching job to a former great offensive lineman who's worked closely with Finn and Funk these past few years wouldn't be perceived as a good idea.


Krish: I saw that Reggie Jones will not be returning for spring ball, but has the door closed on him returning to the team next year?

Nope. The door is still open, according to Rocky Long. If players have legitimate reasons for leaving the program, he said, then they are welcome back if they want to return. He sounded fairly optimistic that SDSU will get Jones back in the fall, which in my opinion would be huge. Honestly, I watched him a ton during the open portions of football practice last season, and I had him penciled in as a starter already for 2012 before the news broke that he was leaving.


Dilly: Do you see Nico Siragusa and Kwayde Miller making the two-deep in the fall?

This is a great question. I really want to have the onions to say yes, but I also really want to see them in the red and black before I make the bold statement. Those two were phenomenal when I watched them play in high school, but Long has consistently said the trenches are the hardest spot for a true freshman to play, just because of the physical maturity required to bang with the big boys. Now those two are both taller than 6 feet 5 and are both around 300 pounds, but Siragusa has stated before that he wants to get more muscle on his frame and I'm assuming Miller does as well. But with the two JUCO players set to step in at tackle during the summer, right now I just don't see Siragusa or Miller making the two-deep yet.


Rick: Given you've had contact with all the recruits / transfers, will there be enough basketballs to go around next year or might team chemistry be a potential problem?

This is the only concern you have when you bring in a class like this, and I think it's legitimate. All of these guys are really, really, really good. When Matt Shrigley is your lowest-rated recruit in your six-man class, you've got some serious talent coming in. But that doesn't always necessarily bode well. Look at Arizona this year. They've got a decent record, but they landed an absurd class last year with four top 100 guys. That should be an Elite Eight caliber team, not a decent Pac-12 squad. I had one scout tell me they're just all so used to being "the man" that it's tough to hoop with them.

So we'll see how this class does assimilate with the stars of this team in Chase Tapley, James Rahon, Jamaal Franklin and Xavier Thames. I'll say that if you're not spending hours and hours in the gym working to get better this offseason, whether you're a newcomer or a veteran, you're not getting PT on this 2012 squad.


Vince: I know you've talked about not needing a big, beefy defensive line in the MWC. What about in the Big East?

When Brady Hoke first got to SDSU and implemented the 3-3-5, the Aztecs had a budding superstar in B.J. Williams who looked poised to have a monster year as a 4-3 defensive end. But as an end in a 3-3-5, and as a 6-foot-3, 250-pound player, I thought Hoke would put him on a serious diet of steak and eggs. But when I asked Hoke about it, he said his ideal linemen height and weight is right around 6 feet 4, 260 pounds, because he wants guys that are mobile enough to stunt and loop and do all those crazy blitzes.

So while fans really want a 6-foot-4, 320-pound slug in the middle, SDSU would rather not have that. Would they like a 6-foot-4, 300-pound lightning-quick lineman? Of course, but that's just not happening in recruiting for SDSU right now. They're content with getting guys with Dontrell Onuoha or Everett Beed's frame and letting them go to work movement-wise on the line.

And for those who still want to see some 300-pound bodies, Sam Meredith is getting close. With him deciding against going on his mission for now, he's going to be a big man in the middle with some genuine quickness.


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