4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SAN DIEGO STATE DEFENSE
– Five starters an six of the top eight tacklers are back on a defense that was good, but didn’t dominate over the second half of the season.
The run defense led the Mountain West and finished seventh in the nation, and it didn’t get roasted by anyone, but it only allowed fewer than 20 points four times after doing that six times in 2017, eight times in 2016, and ten times in 2015.
– The defensive line isn’t going to be an issue, but it’s putting out three new starters – sort of. 6-2, 270-pound Myles Cheatum has started on the end and will work on the inside. However, top tackle Noble Hall is gone, the the top ends have to be replaced. Sophomores Connor Mitchell and Keshawn Banks have good size and have to instantly boost up a mediocre pass rush.
– The star of the linebacking corps returns. Kyahva Tezino is back in the middle after leading the team with 127 tackles. Ronley Lakalaka will be missed on the outside, but senior Troy Cassidy is a strong veteran and sophomore Caden McDonald is a rushing force on the outside. It’s a deep group with a good rotation for all three spots.
– Good luck finding a better group of safeties, even without second-leading tackler Parker Baldwin and his 103 stops. Juniors Tariq and Trenton Thompson each came up with 57 tackles, Kyree Woods can play anywhere in the secondary, and big juniors Dwayne Johnson and Taylor Hawkins are about to become top tacklers.
The corner situation is solid no matter if Woods is one or not. Darren Hall is aback after tying for the team lead with two picks to go along with 45 tackles. Several options are there for the other side, starting with senior Luq Barcoo and a slew of underclassmen.