SAN DIEGO - While the San Diego State Aztecs will still emphasize running the football, Head Coach Rocky Long also plans to put more on the arm of junior quarterback Christian Chapman.
The Carlsbad High School graduate can't wait for the chance.
"This is the season that is a breakout season for me. I've got my experience in the last two seasons and I feel this can be a big one for me and put us on the map," Chapman said.
In the shadow of a running game that rolled up more than 3,000 yards last season, Chapman had the reputation of game manager, not a playmaker.
But with DJ Pumphrey, the NCAA's all-time leading rusher, moving on to the NFL, Chapman has the chance to make this team his own.
"He's developed into a better quarterback as he's played, so we expect him to make more plays on his own this year than in the past," Rocky said. "I think with the way we've been able to run the ball in the past, he's been a game manager. I think he's going to be more than that this year."
"I'm at that role now where I am the guy that helps the younger guys out and the leadership role," Chapman said. "I'm comfortable now and I know what I'm doing and I'm excited to put it on field and show I know what I'm doing."
The junior has started to gain some national attention - becoming a candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award which goes to the college quarterback with the best accomplishments on and off the field.
Chapman has won 13 of his 16 starts at SDSU and during the summer, he said he went home to Carlsbad to coach and referee with youth football teams, because he believes in giving back to the game.
"I was one of those kids at one point," Chapman said. "I was looking up to these guys and being in awe. It's kind of crazy because I am now one of those guys and to get these kids coming up to me now and asking for autographs it's a surreal feeling. I'm just happy I can be out there and support the community.
And his Aztecs teammates are happy that he'll stand under center for another run at a Mountain West Conference Championship.
"He knows that, and that's what's different about him this year. He has a different mindset, different mentality," senior running back Rashaad Penny said. "There's more on his shoulders now that DJ is gone. The offense definitely belongs to him and he has to lead us."