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Aztec Notebook : SDSU Looks at Defensive Changes

September 17, 1987|CURT HOLBREICH | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Statistically, the San Diego State defense is among the worst in the country, and that could mean personnel changes.

Defensive coordinator Tim McConnell said Wednesday that he is considering changing the starting lineup for Saturday's Western Athletic Conference game at Air Force.

"I can't say what they are," McConnell said, "and I'm not sure we'll make them. But we are considering some changes."

The Aztecs rank near the bottom of the 105 National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division I-A teams in almost every defensive category. They are 102nd in total defense, allowing an average of 519 yards per game, 98th in scoring defense (40.5 points per game), 93rd in passing defense (276.5 yards per game) and 91st in rushing defense (242.5 yards per game).

McConnell has stuck with his original starting lineup for much of the first two games, with one major exception.

Brad Burton, a sophomore from El Capitan High School, started in place of Mike Hooper at defensive tackle in a 52-34 victory against Utah Saturday.

Hooper had strained his back before the season-opening 47-14 loss at UCLA. He sprained his right ankle during the Utah game and has practiced little this week.

There could be a change at the other defensive tackle spot also. Craig Skaggs (bruised right shoulder) was held out of contact Wednesday.

McConnell is limited in his moves because of the lack of experienced reserves, especially on the line and at inside linebacker.

Some help could come from Lee Brannon, a reserve tight end, who is being tried at defensive end this week.

Brannon, a junior transfer from Contra Costa College, split practice time between offense and defense Wednesday.

"He gives us great speed on the line," Coach Denny Stolz said. "That's something we really need." Aztec Notes

Reserve linebacker John Wesselman (compound dislocated index finger) will be fit to play against Air Force, trainer Don Kaverman said. . . . Defensive tackle John Bavaro, a junior transfer from Glendale College, quit the team for personal reasons, Stolz said. Stolz said Bavaro did not want to be separated from his wife, who works in the Los Angeles area. Bavaro, a distant relative of New York Giant tight end Mark Bavaro, did not return after preseason camp and never registered for classes, Stolz said.

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