San Jose State has put its focus on Mountain West play now following a 1-3 preseason outing with a visit to the University of New Mexico on Oct. 1 (Kick off at 1 p.m. PT).
Both teams are looking to end a two-game losing skid and earn their second win of this young season, as the Lobos (1-2) are coming off of a bye week while the Spartans are staying on the road after an underwhelming 44-10 loss at Iowa State.
With 38 total tackles through four games (fourth most in MW), sophomore linebacker Frank Ginda said, “Going into this week, we’re really 0-0 in the season and this is where it really matters – conference play.”
Redshirt freshman Josh Love got his first career start last week as Kenny Potter is considered day-to-day from a bruised right leg sustained in the third quarter against Utah on Sept. 17. Love is expected to start once again this weekend, and after throwing four interceptions against the Cyclones he will look to use that experience on the road to get past the growing pains.
The Spartans’ offensive line has been part of the problem for the quarterback-related issues, as they have given up 14 sacks combined in the last two games and pressure will continue to be served with New Mexico’s experienced, blitz-heavy defense.
On the flip side, New Mexico will have a new quarterback under center also with redshirt junior Lamar Jordan taking place over senior Austin Apodaca (collarbone). Jordan, at 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, is a little smaller than Apodaca’s 6-3, 212-pound frame, but still has athletic ability to make plays and a strong arm.
The Lobos offense has been averaging 35.7 points per game and totaling 471 yards (314 rushing) per contest, while the Spartans have been giving up 39.5 points per game and 394 total yards.
Last season, the Spartans were the more dominant team in all phases of the game en route to a 31-21 victory at Spartan Stadium.
Ginda knows how important it will be to slow New Mexico’s run-first, option style offense.
“They do a lot of motioning to mess with your eyes. We just have to be discipline and be technically sound and we’ll be good on defense,” he said.
Ginda also said New Mexico’s running game has been a key focus in practice.
The Lobos’ leading rusher Teriyon Gipson missed the team’s previous game against Rutgers on Sept. 17 due to an injury, but they still racked up 293 rushing yards (quarterback Lamar Jordan accounting for 109 of those on 14 rushes and a touchdown) despite the 37-28 loss.
Fortunately, the Spartans will continue to have captain and senior linebacker Christian Tago good to go for the second straight game which gives the rest of the defense an important source of leadership and discipline.
“It helps me a lot. As a whole defense [Tago] gets us lined up perfect all the time and he’s a good leader,” Ginda added.