bleedCrimson.net: Where do you feel your is heading into week one this year versus where they were heading into week one last year?
DeWayne Walker: I think we have a better football team. I've been preaching that this whole offseason and I'm just really anxious and curious to see how we play against different colored jerseys. I think we've done a good job preparing our football team all through camp. We'll all find out on Saturday exactly where we are.
bc.net: San Diego State already has a game under their belts, what can you do to mitigate that advantage that they might have from that?
DW: You can look at that a couple different ways. They do have a game under their belt so that's one advantage they have over us. They're going to have to adjust to us because I really feel like we are a better football team than Nicholls State. Hopefully that will work to our advantage.
The other piece of it is how well we can respond to San Diego State's talent because we don't have a game under our belts. I think there are going to be pros and cons for both teams. I think the team that adjusts and is able to respond the quickest will obviously have the edge.
bc.net: Give us a quick rundown of each of the position groups.
I think our offensive line is much more improved. Aundre McGaskey is a starting tackle for us. We think he's a very good player. Dejuan Yates is a new starter at guard. He's not one of the bigger linemen but he's the strongest and we like his tenacity and strength. Everybody else on our offensive line started for us last year. We feel good with the offensive line and we have a little bit more depth on the offensive line compared to last year.
Our running back situation we've got our 1,000 yard gainer back with Seth Smith. He hasn't skipped a beat in terms of his production in camp. Kenny Turner's been kinda nicked up all camp and he's finally getting himself healthy. He's a special player and I'm looking forward to watching him play live and in color because he has a lot of God-given ability. We feel good with our two running backs. Brandon Perez is back after redshirting last year and Ronny Opetaia, they'll man our fullback position.
Tight end wise we have Kyle Hipp back from last year and Ronny Torres as our on the line tight ends and Kyle Nelson, we'll probably split him out and utilize him more as a receiver and moreso than an on the line tight end. He [Kyle Nelson] has had an exceptional camp. We're hoping he can bring that to the table on Saturday.
I think we're much improved at receiver. Taveon Rogers is a 10.3 sprinter and brings a lot of speed to our receiving corps. Marcus Allen and Darrius Preston who were with us last year and they're our top three receivers at this point. Todd Lee will get worked in at times in the slot. We think we have numbers at receiver.
At quarterback Matt Christian is our starter and brings a lot of leadership and swagger and savvy. He's not only been good for the offense but he's been good for our whole football team.
I think offensively it's night and day to be honest with you with what our offense looks like now compared to the end of last season.
Pretty much all of our starters are back. We were able to recruit a couple more tackles to give us some depth at our defensive tackle position which we'll need throughout the season. Our ends are the strength of our defense with Donte Savage and Pierre Fils. We feel good with those guys. David Niumatalolo who's our first end off the bench has had a good camp as well.
We have three new linebackers but I think athletically we're better. We're probably going to miss Jason Scott the most out of that group but I just really feel like our three linebackers are playing better as a group than we did last year.
We lost a very good player with Ben Bradley who was our starter at safety. He went down with an ACL injury early in camp but Donyae Coleman has stepped in and he's done a great job filling in. With our two corners back, Davon House and Jonte Green, who we think are very good players, they're the old veterans of the group. Alphonso Powell solidifies that group and we have a young freshman Darien Johnson who's our nickel back right now. He's come in and played like a veteran. Those five guys along with George Callendar who's another backer who will be one of our reserve safeties. He's done a good job in camp.
At kicker we've got Tyler Stampler who is a junior college transfer that's really done a good job kicking for us through camp. Tanner Rust who is also our backup quarterback, he'll be our starting punter. Tanner punted in high school and he's a very productive punter for us.
Taveon Rogers will return kicks for us and Donyae Coleman will return punts. We feel very good with our returners.
There's no question that we've upgraded our football team, we just have to play a game to find out exactly where we are. It'll be pretty interesting for everybody come Saturday.
bc.net: Who are a couple of guys, maybe one guy on offense and one guy on defense, that are not household names but Aggie fans should know about?
DW: I think on offense, even though he was a highly recruited player, Aundre McGaskey our offensive tackle. I think people are going to learn more about him right from the start because of how massive he is. He's a 6'6", 300 pound offensive tackle and I think people are gonna learn about him pretty quick.
Defensively, I think our young freshman, Darien Johnson. I may have to take some cookies and milk to his room on Friday night to settle him down! He's done a great job for us in training camp at nickel back.
These are two guys who haven't played a down for us yet but they're two guys that have really made the most our of their opportunities to make us a better football team.
bc.net: What's the biggest thing you've been pleased with through fall camp and heading into the season opener on Saturday?
DW: I really like our chemistry. I think our senior class has done a great job with generating chemistry with our football team. We have a team now. You're always going to have things that you're going to have to straighten out. When you've got 100 guys it's not going to be perfect all the time but I think for the most part our team has been very focused and everybody is buying into our blueprint. I've really enjoyed this football team so far.
bc.net: What are your keys to the game on Saturday for the Aggies to come out with a win?
DW: We can't panic. With Rocky Long's defense, he's probably going to blitz us. I'm sure he'll start blitzing right when they get off the bus. Offensively we can't panic and we're going to have to respond because he's a good football coach. They're going to make some plays but we've got to stay on course and respond as the game goes because it's a 60 minute game.
Defensively we can't let the game get out of reach. We're going to have to be very solid early on and not let the game get out of reach with big plays and allow our offense to get settled. Rocky Long's got an unorthodox system and there are going to be some plays early that we're going to have to contend with offensively so defensively we're going to have to allow our offense some time to not get rattled.
bc.net: Finally, give me your 30 second elevator speech for fans to come out on Saturday.
DW: If you believe in Coach Walker and his staff and what he's trying to do to build the program, I just think it's fair to come out and support us. We hear a lot of good things about what we're doing in the community and what our players are doing and I think it'll be a fair to return to come and support our football team.