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49ers Will Open Their Season Against Boise State on Saturday

September 01, 1988|DICK WAGNER

Cal State Long Beach, picked by coaches and the media to finish seventh in the newly renamed Big West Conference, will open its season Saturday against Boise State University at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach.

Seventeen starters are back from last year's 4-7 team, which did not defeat a quality opponent. Two of the victories came against Division I-AA teams Montana State and Weber State and the other two were against New Mexico State and Pacific, both of which had losing records.

The focus of the team will again be on quarterback Jeff Graham, who has experienced receivers in Derek Washington (52 catches in 1987) and Mark Seay, as well as tight ends Brian Wiss and Jeff Beilman.

But the 49ers will miss the running of Michael Roberts and Ricco Wilson, who have redshirted. Roberts gained 577 yards last year.

There is hope in the backfield, though, in the form of veterans Brian Browning, Anthony Ford and Lafayette Shelton. However, Shelton, a fullback, is expected to be out at least three weeks with a dislocated elbow.

The top running threat may turn out to be Andre Southerland, a transfer from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan.

Larry Reisbig, beginning his second season as coach, is counting on the offensive line, a weak point a year ago, to be improved.

The defense, which gave up more rushing touchdowns and yards than any team last season in the then-Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., has little experience in the line but is talented elsewhere.

Tom Caines and Phillip Morrison lead a strong group of linebackers, along with Stacey Alexander, a senior with 116 career tackles and 5 interceptions.

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