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September 23, 2011

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.

Ian: Just found out that Ronnie Hillman is eligible for the NFL draft after this season. Do you get the feeling that if he has another big season he is all but gone after this year? And if he does go who do you think will take over for Ryan Lindley and Hillman?

You aren't the only one surprised about his NFL eligibility. I talked to one NFL scout this summer at SDSU's practice who was very surprised to hear Hillman was eligible, because he's a sophomore. And while he is a sophomore in SDSU terms, because of his SAT mixup a few years ago, this is his third year removed from high school, which means he can leave if he wants.

This is a tricky situation, however. Former Alabama star Mark Ingram, a Heisman Trophy-winning running back who is much bigger and stronger than Hillman and played in the conference most like the NFL, was barely drafted in the first round last year. And I know comparing him to Hillman isn't exactly fair, but it tells me the NFL doesn't really view backs as all that special when it comes to draft spots. So if Hillman isn't a first or second rounder, does he come out? Since he doesn't talk about the NFL, I have no idea where his head is at. But I'll say this is a similar situation to Kawhi Leonard. If he finds out that he can go in the first round or top 50 picks, I'm guessing he leaves. And if he's not guaranteed that, I'm guessing he stays.

As far as replacing him and Lindley, there will be several options. Walter Kazee would almost certainly take over Hillman's role with Dwayne Garrett and Adam Muema in the mix. And with Lindley, it'll be a tough QB competition between Chad Jeffries, Adam Dingwell and true freshman Matt Morin. Should be interesting.


Robert: Who was the scout QB this week to help prepare for Denard Robinson? And did they work on the new defensive hand signals in training camp? It's seems like it'll be difficult to get new signals down in just a couple of days.

We just posted this up last night in our notebook, but Jeffries was the one who had the very unenviable task of emulating Robinson this week. He wore No. 16 instead of his normal No. 15 so the defense always knew where he was, and he tried his best to imitate Robinson. Of course, Long said he wasn't very successful, because he's not Robinson. The only guy on the team that can be like Robinson is Hillman, and they did not want to throw him back there on the scout team.

With that being said, Jeffries was no Trent Steelman or Marshall Lobbestael when he was emulating them either, and the defense seemed to do OK on those Saturdays, recording wins in both games.

As far as the signals go, Long said the Aztecs learned them better as the week went on. But like he said in Tuesday's press conference, when the real bullets start flying and the game becomes so much faster than scout-team practice, it could be easy to have some mistakes. Long thinks his squad is ready though. We'll find out on Saturday.


Joey: Who's the more explosive player: Denard Robinson or Ronnie Hillman?

This is a tough question because Robinson throws the football and Hillman doesn't. So of course, Robinson has to be more explosive because he can beat you with more than just his legs. But if we're talking about just pure runner and pure excitement, I would think Hillman gets the nod.

Robinson is probably faster than Hillman and can probably go north and south and run away from people more than Hillman, but Hillman's ability to make you miss is astounding. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really don't think you or I could tackle him in Qualcomm Stadium's hallway. He's so elusive and breaks so many ankles, it's a bit ridiculous. I would definitely take either one, however, because they are both amazing college football players. It'll be a treat to watch them both in Michigan on Saturday.


Tom: We've heard the players' and coaches' thoughts on Brady Hoke leaving, but we haven't heard any journalists' thoughts. What do you think about how the whole thing went?

Just like the players and the coaches, you won't get anything juicy from me. The guy turned SDSU from a 2-10 loser who might have its program cut, to a 9-4 Poinsettia Bowl champion who is now 3-0 this season. As far as I'm concerned, he could have thrown paint on the building and knocked over trash cans on his way out the door to Michigan, and he'd still be a folk hero around these parts.

And let's address the text message thing. I know some fans were really irked by it, but there really wasn't much more he could do. The players were on vacation and he isn't exactly going to phone call 100 different people to tell them he's leaving. While some players say they didn't get the text, I feel like that was more a technological mistake than a personal thing.

But either way, I'm sure SDSU would be happy to show him on Saturday what he's missing. It really should be a fun football game.


Talk more Aztecs with Publisher Edward Lewis on ASR's premium message board!


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