San Diego State Aztecs College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– New coaching staff, same defensive production … sort of. The Aztecs were able to finished third in the nation and first in the Mountain West in total D, allowing just 284 yards and 18 points per game. It was a rock against the run and second in the league in pass D. But now there’s work to do, starting with …
– The secondary. The D and scheme make the stats and the players, but you don’t get better after losing safeties like Tariq Thompson and Dwayne Johnson and a corner like Darren Hall. Taylor Hawkins is an all-star at one corner, and Trenton Thompson is a solid veteran who’ll be a rock at one safety job.
The team’s top five tacklers were defensive backs, but 230-pound Michael Shawcroft is back at one linebacker spot – he can play in the middle but might work outside – after making 35 tackles, and Caden McDonald is a 235-pound all-star who led the team with 4.5 sacks and ten tackles for loss. It’ll be a solid group overall.
– The defensive front doesn’t have a ton of size, but there’s quickness and decent depth for the rotation around 6-4, 305-pound all-star tackle Jonah Tavai. The ends can get into the backfield from time to time, but All-Mountain West performers Cameron Thomas and Keshawn Banks aren’t necessarily pass rushers – they’re rocks against the run.