Defense and a new quarterback are Cal State Long Beach Coach Mike Sheppard's main concerns as he awaits the season opener against San Diego State at 7 Saturday night at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.
"We have inexperienced linemen and not great depth," Sheppard said of the 49er defense. The defense was a problem last season, giving up almost 26 points a game.
Doug Gaynor, the record-setting quarterback, has gone to the Cincinnati Bengals. Replacing him will be Jeff Graham, an inexperienced, 6-foot-4 sophomore who will be helped by a talented offensive line and a wealth of returning pass receivers, including All-Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. split end Charles Lockett (69 catches last season), all-league tight end Greg Locy (38 catches) and fullback Mark Templeton (62 catches).
The 49ers also have a new place kicker, left-footed Eric Weetman, who was a soccer star at Upland High School.
"The question is, can we tune it up against a team (San Diego State) that's supposed to be bigger, faster and stronger than we are?" said Sheppard, who has a 10-13 record in two seasons. The Aztecs beat the 49ers last year, 34-14.