Jackson Moore - Scout

Warrior Sports Network Mailbag: San Jose State insight

WSN publisher Jackson Moore, who also publishes Scout's San Jose State site, fields questions from the Warrior Sports Network boards about this weekend's game against the Spartans.

Q, hwmbrn (Usernames of posters who submitted questions here): Does San Jose State have a streaming site we can watch the game?

A: Unfortunately, no. San Jose State home games are not streamed unless done so by the Mountain West Network or the corresponding television provider.

Q, ichbanfan: What happened to [SJSU]?? Didn’t they win their bowl game last year??

A: A 1-4 start was in the realm of possibility for San Jose State, but certainly a worst-case scenario. The Spartans did back their way into a bowl game with a 5-7 record last year due to lack of bowl-eligible teams. That being said, the Spartans performed well to win the Cure Bowl and played very competitively in six of the seven losses. They could never quite get over the hump in 2015 and returned all but a few key contributors.

The jump from 2015 to 2016 has not been made by this year’s team. The Spartans failed to upset Utah on their home turf and have had poor road showings at Tulsa, Iowa State and New Mexico. They were underdogs in all four losses, but expectations called for at least one or more upsets in that stretch.

SJSU was without starting quarterback Kenny Potter at Iowa State, starting a redshirt freshman who originally came to campus as a preferred walk-on. Potter returned hobbled in the team’s 48-41 shootout loss at New Mexico. The Spartans also missed their defensive MVP Christian Tago at linebacker in the team’s first three games - he appears to still be working his way back to full strength. Overall, San Jose State may have its back against the wall at home this week.

Q, makaokalani: Is SJSU stouter than NEV on the OL and DL? In other words, will we be able to run on them?

A: Everybody can run on San Jose State. The Spartans have been known for their strong pass defense in recent years, but teams have gladly turned to the run to defeat SJSU. The Spartans’ run defense was so costly to the 2015 season that the program overhauled its entire defensive coaching staff, but the turnaround has not occurred yet. The scheme has been altered, but they may not have the players to get it done.

Here’s an interesting stat - Nevada ranks 125th in the nation in run defense at 272.6 yards per game. San Jose State ranks 124th at 268.2 yards per game. San Jose State has not cracked the top 100 in rush defense since 2012.

Q, Scrooge2: What's the main strength of their defense?

A: The main strength is the Spartans’ pass defense, which has still been below average statistically through five games. Senior captain Maurice McKnight and cornerback Andre Chachere are reliable defensive backs that lead the unit - both have two interceptions. San Jose State’s star player is linebacker Christian Tago who is an absolute difference maker, but he missed the first three games with injury and still does not appear to be 100 percent.

Q, Scrooge2: Is there a dominant pass rusher?

A: Not particularly. Isaiah Irving serves as a hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker that Hawaii may have to prepare a little extra for. The interior line is filled with young, undersized defensive linemen.

Q, Scrooge2: Who is their go to guy on offense?

A: Quarterback Kenny Potter is the biggest play maker on the offense if he is healthy. He suffered a leg contusion three weeks ago that has restricted his running threat. The Spartans also lost their top receiver Tyler Winston to academics. Tight end Billy Freeman remains as one of Potter’s best targets. Deonte Cooper, a former four-star running back, grad transferred from Washington and is the team’s lead back this year.

Q, brainfart: Do they still use the "Spartans. What is your profession?" cheer? ...along with the old guy playing the banjo?

I haven’t heard that one in a while. Krazy George and his drum usually attend at least one game a season and is one of the few extra sparks for the SJSU crowd. Saturday is homecoming at San Jose State, so there’s a chance you’ll see him.

Q, brainfart: So what, UH get chance or what?

If Hawaii can come to San Jose State and just run the ball, they certainly have a chance - and a good chance at that. This game comes down to how closely Hawaii can match last week’s performance going on the road. Vegas gives a slight edge to SJSU at home, but if Rolovich’s team can dominate with its running game as many run heavy teams have done to SJSU in past years, UH could secure a 2-0 conference record.

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