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Aztecs Try to Find Help for Struggling Defense

Not content to stand still in the face of another poor defensive performance, the San Diego State football staff has decided to experiment this week.

Several position and player changes have been made at practice in preparation for Sunday’s Western Athletic Conference home opener against Air Force.

Chuck Hardaway, a 6-foot 6-inch, 300-pound junior offensive tackle, was moved to the defensive line Wednesday. Hardaway, a transfer from Taft College, had been the second team left tackle on offense.

SDSU Coach Denny Stolz said it was too early to tell if Hardaway would be ready to play against Air Force or if the move would be permanent, but he said he felt the defense needed some help after a 59-6 loss at No. 5 UCLA Sunday.

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Also moved to the defensive line was Judd Rachow, a redshirt freshman tight end from Hilltop High School in Chula Vista. Stolz said Rachow’s move was a more long-term project than a plan for immediate help.

The Aztecs also are taking a longer look at nose tackle Ropadi Piscia, a junior walk-on from Grossmont College.

These are some of the latest in a series of moves Stolz has made in the past year to improve his defense. Four players on the defensive two-deep started last season as offensive players: inside linebacker Lee Brannon, end Mitch Burton, and cornerbacks Tony Nettles and Randy Peterson. Also, nose tackle Steve Blyth, a junior transfer from Rancho Santiago College, had been an offensive lineman before his conversion to defense last spring.

Stolz said that Peterson, who caught 12 passes for 181 yards and 1 touchdown last season, likely would also be used as a wide receiver against Air Force because of injuries to Alfred Jackson and Patrick Rowe.

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Jackson practiced and is listed as probable with a strained back. Rowe is doubtful with a bruised thigh. Offensive guard Nick Subis (ankle) also sat out practice and is questionable.


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