The ball will go through the hands of the teams best player that is for sure. As D.J. Pumphrey will provide plenty of offense when he is given the rock.
The team has plenty of depth behind him as well as Juwan Washington and Rashaad Penny provide quality backups for the versatile running game. The team will look to take care of the ball on offense and not turn it over. That is their main goal as a unit. The team plays an old school type of ball with short passes and a heavy running game. It is refreshing to see that type of play in this modern era of the game.
Let’s take a look at some of the key contributors on offense for the Aztecs:
D.J. Pumphrey- (RB)
As mentioned, the ball will be in this mans hands a lot this season. Reports were that Pumphrey was real close to coming out last season and entering the NFL Draft. He would have surely been selected high, but he chose to remain in school and finish out his senior year. He has a real shot of finishing the season as one of the all-time best collegiate running backs ever. Pumphrey ran for 1,653 yards last season on 340 carries. He scored 17 touchdowns and is by far the focal point if the offense. I cannot stress that enough. At 5-9 and 180 lbs he is not the biggest back but he does run tough for his size. He is elusive and productive and everything you want out of a starting tailback. Expect a big year from this young man.
Christian Chapman- (QB)
The young quarterback established himself late last season as the teams QB of the future. As a red-shirt freshman last year he played in the first two games of the year for the Aztecs. He then sat for the next nine games in favor of a more veteran player. Maxwell Smith started for the Aztecs during that stretch but he tore his ACL in the last regular season game of the year against Nevada. Chapman was forced into the starting role and he performed well for the team. He took care of the ball and that is what matters most with this offense. He finished the year 29-49 with 436 yards and two touchdowns versus one interception. He also rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries for the year. The Carlsbad high alum is described as accurate and could have a decent year as defensive coordinators try to stop the run. A quality spring has assured he will start the season behind center.
Juwan Washington- (RB/KR)
He red-shirted last season after tearing it up in high school. He rushed for more than 5,000 yards in high school and scored 75 touchdowns. He is third on the depth chart right now but could emerge fairly quickly if he progresses like most think he will. He will probably return kicks some and it is there where you will see his elusiveness and quickness. He is hard to bring down and has a great motor. He could be the future running back for the Aztecs moving forward (after 2016). Expect the team to play him sparingly in the backfield as they assess where he is as far as his knowledge of the system.
Rashaad Penny- (RB/KR)
The junior running back is second on the depth chart and gets a decent amount of touches as Pumphrey’s understudy. He has 1,292 all-purpose yards last year and will likely play a major role in the offensive scheme for the Aztecs. He returned 24 kicks for 804 yards last year and is extremely valuable to the team in the special teams department. He has three career returns for touchdowns and is always dangerous in the open field with the ball. He is very shifty and has top-end speed that could also transition to playing time on Sunday’s. The Aztecs are stacked at the running back position and this unit will definitely do damage in the MWC.
Mikah Holder- (WR)
The Oceanside high product has emerged as the go to wide receiver for the Aztecs. He played in all 14 games (11 started) last season as a sophomore and caught 24 balls for 439 yards and six touchdowns. I know the yards and receptions do not look impressive but the Aztecs system is run heavy, so the passing numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. At 6-0/180 lbs he has decent size and has also returned punts for the team in the past. He returned six punts last season for 45 yards. He could be in store for a break out as teams scheme to stop the run against the Aztecs. Watch him closely.
Arthur Flores- (C)
The 6-5/305 lb center did not play a single snap for the football team prior to the 2015 season. As a junior last season he started the first game of the year and never looked back. He has really developed recently and the club is excited to have him return in the middle of the offensive line. The Denver Colorado native is an early projected finalist for the Rimington Trophy which is given out to the Nation’s best centers. The growth from this young man is truly exciting and he could be huge as the Aztecs attempt to pound the ball continuously at their opponent.
Nico Siragusa- (OG)
The anchor of the line who assisted in the Aztecs rushing for a school-record 3,266 yards last season. He is a Mater Dei High School alum and has a huge body and an even better form and technique. At 6-5/330 lbs he is a beast on the line and has a bit of a nasty streak about him. He will not be pushed around and he motivates his teammates to elevate their game to the next level. He has started 28 games for the Aztecs on the line and is the only lineman to have started a game on the line for the past three seasons. Siragusa is an early favorite for all MWC conference honors once again.
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