San Diego State football returns some key components to its offense from last season; namely, senior quarterback Ryan Agnew and senior running back Juwan Washington.
Agnew completed 51.6% of his passes last season for 1,651 yards and 10 touchdowns to only six interceptions in 223 attempts. Washington ran for 5 yards per carry for 999 total yards and 10 TDs.
But there's one thing not returning for the Aztecs ahead of their season-opening matchup with Weber State on Saturday: the same pro-style offense that has historically brought SDSU, its running backs and tight ends, much success.
In his ninth season at San Diego State, and fifth as offensive coordinator, Jeff Horton is leading the Aztecs in switching to a spread offense. That will move SDSU away from double-tight-end sets and two-running-back looks, and into shotgun formations with one running back and three or four receivers.
Horton has been an assistant of Rocky Long's since the latter was named head coach on Montezuma Mesa in 2011.
So how does Weber State prepare to face an offense for which it has no film?
"Just be good at what you do and don’t try to outsmart yourself," said head coach Jay Hill, who is also WSU's defensive coordinator. "Know how to line up to every formation in all your personnel groups on defense, don’t get too complicated. Let them line up and play."
Long and Horton are still likely to want to establish the run, even out of the spread look. WSU will try to "combat that by matching their discipline and physicality," Hill said.
WSU, a 7.5-point underdog according to 5Dimes, has a decent chance in that battle, returning a deep, experienced defensive line headlined by all-conference ends Adam Rodriguez and Jonah Williams.
And, it's not as if Hill has no experience calling defenses against the spread. Coaching in the Big Sky, he might have more of that than experience against the pro style SDSU is leaving behind.
"Every kind of scheme that could be thrown at us, we’ve faced at one point or another," Hill said. "Now have we practiced those exact plays? I don’t know. But our scheme carries over to every offensive scheme. Now it’s just a matter of keeping our eyes and techniques disciplined, executing what we need to get done on defense."
None of that is to say Weber has the upper hand but, rather, that it might be equipped for the fight against the upper-division Aztecs.
"They’ve got a good offensive line coming back, good tight ends coming back, the running backs are very good," Hill said. "This transition, I would anticipate, would be smooth. They have veteran guys that understand football and have played a lot of football. We’ve got our work cut out for us for sure, this will be a good offense."
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. MDT Saturday and will be streamed lived on Facebook, with a radio call on 1430 AM KLO.