San Diego State is a football team transformed. It is two bad calls and six points removed from 9-0. How has Brady Hoke’s crew accomplished what so many coaching staffs had failed to do?
Its newfound success begins (and perhaps ends) on the ground. SDSU’s ypc figures from 2005—Chuck Long’s first year—through Brady Hoke’s opening season in 2009 steadily declined from 3.9 ypc to a dismal 2.9. Enter a stronger, more competitive offensive line, steady employment of a fullback, and the most exciting new runningback in the Mountain West, and Aztecs’ average yards per carry more than doubled, to 4.84 yards per carry. The fullback is senior Brandon Sullivan, and the runningback is true freshman Ronnie Hillman. Together, they certainly have done more to improve the offensive fortunes on the Mesa than any other duo on the team. They may have done more than much of the rest of the team, combined. Running behind Sullivan’s blocking, Hillman carries the ball 62% of the team’s carries, for 71% of its ground yards. (more…)