Defense of The Citadel is the big problem for Coach Red Parker. His interior linemen are almost totally inexperienced. Davidson, a team that prefers the forward pass, may move more on the ground in its second year under Coach Dave Fagg. Bob Thalman in his first year as head coach of VMI inherits a team that had a 1-10 record and four times gave up 55 or more points in a game. No relief is in sight.
After finishing 11-0 in 1969, San Diego State labeled the new Pacific Coast Athletic Association a hindrance and demanded the right to replace Washington State in the Pacific Eight. The Aztecs were anxious to get at USC and UCLA, a unilateral longing that fell on deaf ears. Then last November Cal State at Long Beach spoiled the protest by winning the PCAA championship and stopping San Diego's undefeated streak at 31 games. Now, with a title apiece, each team will be trying to justify its own superiority complex, a situation that might benefit a third party, the University of Pacific.
The fact that San Diego lost 18 starters is of only medium consequence considering the number of redshirts and JC transfers available, and Coach Don Coryell's 88-13-2 record. Besides, wide receiver Tom Reynolds is healthy after a year's absence and in 1969 he caught an NCAA season-record 18 touchdowns. Long Beach will miss Jim Kirby until at least midseason because of a knee injury. He had eight touchdown runs of 30 yards or more last year.
Pacific Coach Homer Smith beat eventual champ Long Beach and only missed San Diego by a point. He appears to have superior personnel, including Mitchell True, the team's best runner, and two new whippets, Clint McKinney and Toby Whipple. Fresno State must improve enough to overcome a 106-28 deficit at the hands of SDS and Long Beach. San Jose State, winner of four games in two years, is being called a contender by Coach Dewey King. Anything you say, Dewey. Santa Barbara has passer Randy Palomino, while Cal State L.A., 1-9 in 1970, figures to be "vastly improved."