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Injuries Hit Defense Hardest as SDSU Prepares for Wyoming

The San Diego State University Aztecs took solace after Saturday night’s 34-13 loss to the University of Oregon in the fact that they played well for three quarters.

Perhaps they should just be happy that they are finished with Pac-10 teams for the season.

UCLA, Stanford and Oregon all routed the Aztecs. And the latest defeat by a Pac-10 team has hurt more than the SDSU pride: Seven Aztecs were injured against Oregon.

The timing couldn’t be much worse. The Aztecs (1-0, 1-4), in first place in the Western Athletic Conference, play Wyoming (2-0, 5-0) Saturday in Jack Murphy Stadium.

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“Injuries are always bad timing,” Denny Stolz, SDSU coach, said late Saturday night.

The injuries hit hardest an already-thin defense which has allowed more than 30 points in each of its four games this season. Defensive end Todd Coomes fractured his right ankle. Three linebackers--Kevin Maultsby, Tracy Mao and backup Milton Maples--sprained ankles. Another linebacker, Lee Brannon, aggravated a shoulder problem.

Star running back Paul Hewitt suffered a left hip contusion. Backup tight end Ray Rowe has a hip pointer.

Coomes is out for the season. The rest will be closely monitored, and their status for Saturday’s game won’t be determined until later this week.

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“I suspected it would be a very physical football game,” said Stolz. “All we can do is gather the injured, have a good week of practice and get ready for next week.”

Mark Timmer, Wyoming’s backup fullback, injured a shoulder during Saturday’s 35-16 victory over Fullerton State and is doubtful for SDSU. However, the Cowboys expect starting free safety Daryl Harris, who has missed two games with ligament damage to the ring finger in his right hand, back for the Aztecs.

Stolz replaced punter Bill Kushner with Joe Santos in the first half after Kushner punted for 14, 42, and 19 yards.

After the 14-yard punt, Oregon drove 38 yards for a touchdown. After the 19-yard punt, the Ducks went 33 yards for a touchdown. Both came in the first quarter.

“We had terrible field position,” Stolz said. “You just can’t give an undefeated Pac-10 team 21 points in the first quarter.” It’s not the first time Kushner has had trouble punting deep in his own territory. Against UCLA, he punted twice out of his end zone for 36 and 28 yards, which led to 10 points for UCLA. Against Stanford, deep in SDSU territory, he let loose with a 29-yard punt. On the ensuing drive, Stanford scored a touchdown.

Kushner has punted 21 times this season for an average of 32.1 yards per kick.

Aztec Notes

Neither quarterback Brad Platt nor center Kevin Wells was sure what happened when they fumbled two consecutive snaps in the first quarter against Oregon. “It was a freak thing,” Platt said. “Kevin and I never have problems.” Said Wells: “It’s hard to tell what happened. Sometimes I’ll leave a little early, or sometimes Brad will leave a little early. But I have no idea what happened tonight.” . . . Junior Monty Gilbreath extended his streak of catching a pass to 18 consecutive games Saturday.

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Good Numbers Dept.: After just 1 pass interception and 1 sack total in its first three games, the SDSU defense picked off three passes and had two sacks against Oregon. . . . Ugly Numbers Dept.: The SDSU defense, ranked 100th in the nation in rush defense before the Oregon game, allowed the Ducks 212 rushing yards. . . . Oregon tailback Derek Loville rushed for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns. It’s the third time in four games an opponent has rushed for at least 100 yards against SDSU. In the one game this hasn’t been accomplished, Air Force’s Greg Johnson rushed for 91 yards. It’s also the second time this season a running back has scored three touchdowns against the Aztecs. . . . For the second time this season, the Aztecs punted 10 times. The first times was against UCLA.


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