Turnovers Help Doom Spartans in 38-28 Loss

It takes a team effort to win, and a team effort to lose. There were plenty of factors that again kept San Jose State out of the win column in Ruston. Five turnovers and an inability to stop Louisiana Tech were major factors in the Spartans 38-28 loss. However, there are positives that can be taken away from this game that bode well for SJSU's future.

A team that commits five turnovers rarely wins a game, but it can be done, and the Spartans have recently proven that. A team that racks up a lethargic total of 12 yards rushing rarely wins game, but it does happen. A defense that gives up 497 yards rarely wins games, but again it does happen. But when you combine all three of those items for the same team in the same game, it always spells doom. Four Matt Faulkner interceptions and a key fumble on a fourth down conversion that was successful in killing San Jose State scoring chances as the Spartans fell on the road to Louisiana Tech 38-28. The Spartans haven't won in Ruston since 1993, around the time the current freshmen were born.

There were too bright spots, however. One that can be quantified by a statistic, and one that can't. SJSU junior punter Harrison Waid averaged just under 50 yards-per-kick. The problem with this is a team probably doesn't want its punter to be the star of the show, or on the field a lot. Waid's 49.9 average came on seven punts.

The other bright spot is more difficult to convey, and impossible to show in stats - this team never gives up. While that doesn't do much to belay the sting of a loss, it does justify reason for optimism for the future. The Spartans have arguably already exceeded expectations on the season.

Spartans fans, who have been subjected to abject poverty in football for over 20 years, save one season, looked at the recent string of victories and began to have hope. Hope that this team will finally end the drought of misery that has been the constant companion of the SJSU football fan for two decades. It's happened before, after the 2006 season when the Spartans went 9-4, beat Fresno State for the first time in eons, and won the New Mexico Bowl. However, that success was not to last. As such, fans of 7th and Alma have reason to expect to be disappointed.

But this is a different kind of hope as SJSU head coach Mike MacIntyre is building a team basically from scratch, and he did start off 1-12 in his first season at the Spartan helm. But this season the Spartans went out and had a stretch where they'd won three of four games. Fans can't be faulted for morphing that success into something bigger than it really is. This is still a young and growing program under Coach Mac. But they've taken huge strides towards turning things around.

While the final scores may not reflect this, for those of us who have followed football for some time and have seen what "giving up" looks like, this team conveys no sign of ever "giving up, regardless of the score. At a recent press conference, when senior safety Duke Ihenacho was asked there the "never-say-die" attitude comes from, he responded immediately that it came from the coaches.

"They constantly tell us in practice never to give up," he said.

It's obviously more difficult to see that attitude in a loss, but recall that the Spartans have won two games this season in the last minute. While there is time left on the clock these players are giving 110 percent regardless of the score. We saw it in the Nevada game, and we saw it today against Louisiana Tech. Plus, the Spartans are one of the least-penalized teams in the country. That shoes great discipline.

Once the new system has taken hold and becomes second nature to this team, for the remainder of this season and for the longer term, those expectations that germinated out of the three wins will come to fruition, but it is still a work in progress.

SJSU is now 3-5 on the season, 2-2 in the Western Athletic Conference, and must go on another run to win three of four remaining games in order to qualify for a bowl.

Next week the Spartans return home to continiue their rise as they face Idaho. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 1:00 at Spartan Stadium.

Don Hoekwater is the Publisher of Inside Sparta. You are welcome to contact Don with any questions or suggestions at publisher@insidesparta.net.

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