San Diego State Defense
Despite the late-seaosn meltdown, San Diego State’s defense is still quite good, especially against the run. Giving up only 103.8 yards per game (which was 7th best int he nation) was something they hung their hat on. But that could change with several players leaving, especially on the line.
Long’s 3-3-5 defense has been very useful, but they are going to have some inexperience up front. They will potentially have Myles Cheatum, Connor Mitchell, and Keshawn Banks on the line and collectively, they only had 42 tackles. Luckily, they will be backed up by a very experienced linebacking corps and secondary.
San Diego State 2018 Defensive Stats
Remember the name Kyahva Tezino as he will be a beast in the middle of the field for the Aztecs. Last season, he led the team in total tackles (127 – 26th most in the nation), tackles for a loss (14.5), sacks (8.5) and QB hurries (17). He will form a fierce duo with Ronley Lakalaka who returns with 50 tackles and 5.5 for a loss.
Combined with Tariq Thompson and Trenton Thompson in the safety spot, the Aztecs will have excellent protection against the pass. Last season, the Thompsons combined for 117 tackles, 7.0 TFLs, two interceptions, and ten pass breakups. They are fast and very agile DBs, so it is going to but tough getting the ball moving through the air.
For UCLA, the apparent plan would be to run the ball. With Joshua Kelley and the ever-improving offensive line able to methodically move the ball downfield, SDSU will do what they can to meet the ball at the line. At that point, the Bruins can go to the air and get through the zone. Hopefully, Dorian Thompson-Robinson is up to the challenge of attacking the Aztec DBs.