Site: Branch Field at University Stadium (Albuquerque, N.M.; capacity 39,224)
Time: 2:00 p.m. (Mountain)
TV: Root Sports Southwest and Root Sports Rocky Mountain
Streaming video: Mountain West Network at livestream.com/mwn/events/6234150
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: Streaming audio: KLIV streams at www.kliv.com and the TuneIn app. KION streams at www.powertalk1460.com and the iHeartRadio app. For the New Mexico radio broadcast, listen to the New Mexico Lobos Sports Network on www.golobos.com/watch or the TuneIn app.
Injuries: QB Kenny Potter (knee) is probable. RT Nate Velichko (knee), RB Thomas Tucker (concussion), and RB Brandon Monroe (concussion) are out. On the Spartan Sports Report television show on Wednesday, San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said that Potter is “day to day” but “ran around this morning.”
Miscellaneous: This is the homecoming game for New Mexico; San Jose State's homecoming is on Oct. 8 vs Hawaii.
New Mexico: An overview
Under fifth-year head coach Bob Davie, New Mexico brings a 1-2 record off a bye week, following a two-game losing streak with a 32-31 loss to in-state rival New Mexico State and 37-28 loss at Rutgers. San Jose State leads the all-time series 12-4-1, with the most notable win being a 20-12 win in the 2006 New Mexico Bowl. Last year, San Jose State beat New Mexico 31-21 in San Jose.
In its previous game against Rutgers, New Mexico ran a two-quarterback system similar to the brief co-starting experiment with Joe Gray and Kenny Potter by San Jose State in 2015. Austin Apodaca started and provided more passing plays, while Lamar Jordan came in for run-oriented triple option sets.
“Misdirection triple option play, unlike the old wishbone, which was the original triple option...is a zone read with the quarterback keeping the ball,” said Caragher on the Spartan Sports Report. “He can give it to the back, he can keep it and run it, [or] he can keep it and pitch it.”
However, Apodaca will sit out against San Jose State due to injury, so Jordan will start. San Jose State can thus expect a run-heavy offense similar to Air Force and Navy, a challenge for a run defense that has been consistently poor throughout the Caragher era. New Mexico running backs Tyrone Owens and Richard McQuarley showed athleticism in the Rutgers game, including gaining extra yards after contact.
Caragher commented about Jordan: “He’s a very skilled athlete. He had made several long runs this year."
Because New Mexico is coming off a bye week, Caragher also said his team needs to prepare for anything that could happen with the opponent.
“The bye can work two ways,” said Caragher. “One, a team sitting around: they’re not playing last weekend, and so they can lose a sense of timing...at the same time, they can change some schemes.”
“They can spread you out and throw the ball as well, but I think their philosophy is to be able to want to gain those angles...outnumbering the defense with the quarterback having the ability to run the ball," added Caragher.
Caragher also emphasized the need for his offensive line to play assignments properly to combat New Mexico’s 3-4 defense.
“They do a lot of zone blitzing...They run a 3-4 front. That gives the ability to rock and roll the front one way or another...For an offensive line, getting targeted properly is very important,” remarked Caragher.
What’s in it for San Jose State?
Ever since Kenny Potter left the Utah game on Sept. 17 due to an injury, Caragher has maintained that Potter remains the top quarterback on the depth chart. However, this week’s depth chart lists Josh Love as starter, with Potter third behind Love and junior college transfer Sam Allen. On the Spartan Sports Report on Wednesday, Caragher said that Potter is “day to day”. Later that day on his weekly radio show on KLIV, Caragher confirmed that Potter participated for half of that day’s practice, with the approval of athletic trainers.
Allen, who transferred from Victor Valley College, is a true sophomore with four years of eligibility left to play three seasons. Caragher said that he intends to keep Allen’s redshirt year unless compelled to play Allen.
“I tell our players they’re not redshirting until the last game’s been played. All the while, we’re going to be smart and not play a quarterback in mop up time and burn a year...Sam’s a good prospect for us, so we’re going to go with Josh this week, and then Sam will be there and be ready to go if need be,” said Caragher.
Regarding senior linebacker Christian Tago, who played for the first time this season last week against Iowa State, Caragher said, also on the Spartan Sports Report: “Once it was determined he was good to go, we said let’s play him but in a controlled manner where he doesn’t play 60 [to] 70 snaps.
“We want him for conference obviously….we played him 30-plus snaps in the [Iowa State] game and rotated and then got him out, and by then we were down substantially too.”
With an impatient fanbase, Caragher can ill afford to lose this game. A loss would put San Jose State 1-4 on the season, the worst five-game start in the Caragher era. Even in the 3-9 season in 2014, San Jose State had a two-game winning streak following a 1-3 start. Now that Caragher has mostly his recruits on the team and is in his fourth season, it is unacceptable for the team to move backwards at this point in his tenure. The outcome of this game, which will give San Jose State either a 1-4 or 2-3 record at the end of the day, will be crucial in determining the team’s finish in the season. It is definitely easier to make up for a 2-3 than 1-4 record.