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A Phoner with... Rocky Long

Coming off a 9-4 campaign and a 35-14 dismantling of Navy last December in the Poinsettia Bowl—the school’s first postseason win in more than 40 years—Aztec fans are all giddy about their San Diego State football team.

New head coach Rocky Long, who replaces Brady Hoke, who left to coach Michigan, believes there is potential, but he isn’t buying into all of the hype. He also realizes how amped fans will be on Sept. 24, when the Aztecs visit Michigan.

SDM: Thoughts about facing Coach Hoke and Michigan?
Long: Everyone is asking about it, but I have no thoughts about it. I’ll worry about it when it comes. Our No. 1 concern is winning the Mountain West Conference.

SDM: Plenty of excitement surrounding the program. What are your expectations?

Long: I think this team needs to have a lot of different things go right and come together to be as good as last year’s team. We lost about 20 seniors, so there are kids who have to be developed and young guys who have to come through to compete at the same high level. We have potential, but we won’t know how that potential will play out until the season.

SDM: How good is QB Ryan Lindley?

Long: Ryan Lindley is as good as any quarterback in the country. He’s the leader of our team and he’ll be in the NFL someday. He’ll have a good year because he’ll work at it.

SDM: Running back Ronnie Hillman had an outstanding freshman year. Can he duplicate it?

Long: I think he surprised people last season. As good as he is, he’s only going to be as good as the boys up in front of him. He can run and hit the seams, but if the big boys don’t block, he can’t run through any holes.

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