Bouyed by their huge upset road win at Ft. Collins, Colorado against the Colorado State University Rams, the San Jose State Spartans are feeling pretty good about themselves these days. Their play has improved on the field from week to week in each game of their 5 games, and they are becoming more and more confident in their ability to win. Coach MacIntyre said that on the final Spartan drive against Colorado State and with the score tied after CSU's huge comeback, "at no time did anyone on the sidelines feel that we were going to lose".
Judging from the newspaper articles being reported around the country on San Jose State football, it is becoming very apparent that other teams and future opponents, both non-conference and in the WAC, are sitting up and taking notice of the Spartans. Coach Lew Holtz once declared that in coaching, you need to win your first game of the season, your last game of the season, and your homecoming game. He said if a coach can do that, he can usually keep his job for awhile. Colorado State must now be rethinking their earlier decision to schedule the surging Spartans as this year's homecoming opponent.
Future homecoming opponents, BYU, and Louisiana Tech, might be having second thoughts also. San Jose State may no longer be the soft spot in their schedules for a homecoming opponent that they had hoped. Coach MacIntyre said that the Rams were "a very confident team and riding high" coming into the game after having just come off an exciting double-overtime victory over a very good Utah State team. However, the Spartans came out inspired and determined not to be denied as evidenced by a long initial possession touchdown scoring drive. Coach MacIntyre joked that the team started fast, finished strong, but have a "bit of work to do on the middle part".
One of the biggest areas of improvement this year has been the entire defense as evidenced by the fact that they currently lead the WAC in defensive take-aways. Coach MacIntyre said that the players are "bigger, more physical and faster than last year." He used Keith Smith as an example. Smith is 22 pounds heavier than he was last year. Coach said that the 2nd quarter play where Smith collided head on with the CSU ball carrier, jarring the ball loose, allowing Duke Ihenacho to pick up the fumble and scamper for 20 yards into the end zone, may not have happened last year with Smith's size at the time. For that hit and Smith's dominant team-leading 10 tackles, he was voted WAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Also, the Spartan's improved offense cannot be overlooked in this upset victory. Ryan Otten, with his 102 yards receiving day plus one touchdown, garnered honorable mention tight end performer of the Week from the College Football Performance. Noel Grigsby and Jabari Carr also had outstanding performances, along with Matt Faulkner, Brandon Rutley, and the entire offensive line who made the passing and running success possible.
Some good news came out of the Monday press conference with regard to injuries. Both Fred Koloto (sprained knee) and Brandon Rutley (high ankle sprain) are reportedly both improving by the day and are both expected to make the trip to Provo.
Coach MacIntyre talked about how huge a win over BYU would be for our program, in that "it would put us on a bigger stage, and would really help us in recruiting". He remarked that BYU presents a very large challenge for the Spartans and joked that "they have the tallest receivers in America." He also said that their defensive linemen at enormous in size averaging well over 300 pounds, and that as a unit they are very strong against the run.
San Jose State just so happens to have a familial connection to the Provo area. Brothers David and Peter Tuitupou, both 6-5 Spartan defensive linemen are from nearby Orem, Utah and their older brother played for BYU. Their mother is also a professor at BYU, so they will have many family and friends attending the game, although the team allegiance may be divided within the family.
The game will be played at Cougar Stadium with a start time of 7:17 PM (Pacific Daylight Time). The game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU.
Scott Phelps is Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You are welcome to contact Scott with any questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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