With a 1-1 record on the season following a 66-35 win over Portland State in last Saturday’s home opener, the San Jose State Spartans return to CEFCU Stadium this coming Saturday for a nationally televised night game against Pac-12 opponent Utah Utes (2-0). This game will mark the first home game against any Power Conference opponent since the Sept. 9, 2006 game against Stanford, which San Jose State won 35-34.
Site: CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans (San Jose, Calif.; capacity 30,456)
Time: 7:30 p.m. (Pacific)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Streaming video: http://www.cbssports.com/watch/cbssportsnetwork/ (requires cable subscriptions with Cox, Frontier, or Optimum)
Radio: 1590 KLIV (San Jose) and Spartan Radio Network affiliates: 910 KKSF (San Francisco); 1460/101.1 KION (Salinas/Monterey/Santa Cruz); 1280 KWSX (Stockton); 1360 KFIV (Modesto).
Streaming audio: KLIV streams at www.kliv.com and the TuneIn app. KION streams at www.powertalk1460.com and the iHeartRadio app. For the Utah radio broadcast, listen to ESPN 700 out of Salt Lake City on www.espn700sports.com or the TuneIn app.
Injuries: LB Christian Tago (knee), RT Nate Velichko (leg), RB Brandon Monroe (concussion), and RB Thomas Tucker (concussion) are out for San Jose State. For Utah, RB Joe Williams retired from football for medical reasons after last week, and DE Kylie Fitts suffered a season-ending foot injury.
Utah: An overview
Utah comes off a 10-3 season in 2015 that included a win over rival BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl and season-end #17 ranking in the AP Poll. The latest AP Poll has Utah tied with TCU for 26th place. Now in his 12th season as head coach, Kyle Whittingham led Utah in its journey from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. Whittingham finished the job Urban Meyer began in turning Utah into a mid-major powerhouse and peaked in 2008 with a 12-0 record, upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and season-end #2 ranking.http://www.scout.com/college/san-jose-state/story/1707123-know-your-foe-...
14 starters return from last season, and succeeding Travis Wilson as starting quarterback is junior Troy Williams, a junior college transfer from Santa Monica College who originally signed with Washington out of high school. Among his teammates at Washington were defensive back Jermaine Kelly and running back Deontae Cooper, both of whom now play at San Jose State. In two games at Utah, Williams has completed 34 of 58 passes for 466 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions in a spread offense system. Williams has also rushed for 28 yards on 12 attempts. The three interceptions all happened in last Saturday’s 20-19 squeaker of a win over BYU in a rematch of last year’s Las Vegas Bowl in Salt Lake City.
“They have had a potent offense for a number of years, and they got a very athletic quarterback,” remarked San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher at his weekly press conference (9:00 of video) on Monday.
“Their history there is just of an athletic quarterback, zone-read, make you pay if you over-commit one way or another,” added Caragher.
Supporting Williams on offense include center J.J. Dielman (6’5”, 300), a second-team All-Pac-12 honoree last year as a right tackle and All-Pac-12 honorable mention left guard Isaac Asiata (6’3”, 323). The Utah offense also features junior running back Troy McCormick (5’9”, 178), who currently leads the team in rushing with 118 yards and a touchdown. Tyrone Smith (6’4”, 205), a sophomore wide receiver out of Fresno, comes off a redshirt freshman year with 193 receiving yards. Also starting at wide receiver are junior Kyle Fulks (5’9”, 178), who played mainly on special teams last year after transferring from a junior college, and senior Tim Patrick (6’5”, 210), who currently leads the Utes in receiving with 164 yards and three touchdowns. However, senior running back Joe Williams (5’11”, 205, no relation to Troy Williams), who was the team’s third-leading rusher in 2015 with 104 yards and three touchdowns, retired from football after repeated injuries throughout his collegiate career.
The Utah defense returns two All-Pac-12 first-teamers from 2015, junior defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (6’2”, 310) and junior free safety Marcus Williams (6’1”, 195). In 2015, Utah gave up just 3.3 yards per rushing attempt and 6.84 yards per passing attempt.
Caragher described the Utah defensive line as “very athletic” and similar to “tight ends and slot receivers.”
“They do a good job twisting, stemming, [and] creating a lot of movement, and any offensive line going up against those guys are going to have their hands full,” added Caragher.
In fact, on Tuesday, the FWAA recognized Utah junior linebacker Sunia Tauteoli as National Defensive Player of the Week for his two interceptions (including a pick-six) and a tackle that stopped BYU’s attempt at a game-winning two-point conversion.
Whittingham commented about San Jose State after Utah’s practice session on Tuesday: “They're very good skill-wise. They have a receiving corps that is very talented and the quarterback does a nice job getting the ball to them. The quarterback is very mobile. The running back runs hard and they're good up front. They're good on offense. I haven't studied a whole lot of the defense yet, but they're an athletic team.”
What’s in it for San Jose State?
For the Spartans, this is an opportunity to pull off an upset against a quality Pac-12 team and have a 2-1 start to the season. Even a loss would not be a cause to panic, if the team does not play as horribly as in the 45-10 season-opening loss to Tulsa.
Two starters will sit out with injuries, as Caragher confirmed on Monday. Linebacker Christian Tago is continuing to recover from knee surgery, and right tackle Nate Velichko hurt his leg last Saturday and is likely out three weeks. Running back Brandon Monroe had a concussion in last week's game and is out indefinitely.
To put it politely, Utah defensive linemen must have been high-fiving each other at film study when watching the backup San Jose State right tackle. Also, the running backs must feel quite relieved to know that Tago won’t be playing. A depth disadvantage will truly show when facing a Power Conference opponent as opposed to the FCS opponent of last week.
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