Performance versus expectation
New Mexico was favored by 11 points, so San Jose State technically did do better than anticipated on the final scoreboard. The majority of the contest felt like the Spartans were playing catch-up rather than a one-possession thriller, however.
That fact that San Jose State was 11-point underdogs to a 1-2 New Mexico team that’s losses came at New Mexico State and Rutgers is enough to tell you how underwhelming the Spartans season has gone this year. Last year it was SJSU that defeated UNM 31-21 in San Jose. With most of the key pieces returning this season and coaching changes made to fix deficiencies, the Spartans have somehow taken a big step backward instead of a step forward from last year’s 6-7 season.
Where it went wrong
San Jose State had one job to do this week, prepare for the New Mexico running attack. That task was definitely not achieved. New Mexico ran all over the Spartans from the opening whistle. A 61-yard run on the game’s first play signaled the first of 320 rushing yards in the first half and 446 for the game. UNM gained almost seven yards per carry on 64 attempts.
The Lobos run-heavy offense had to attempt only eight passes on the game. New Mexico’s offense took 74 snaps and faced only 14 third-down attempts, meaning they gashed the Spartans on first and second down routinely throughout the game. In result, New Mexico dominated possession with 37:07 to San Jose State’s 22:53.
The only other major gripe for the Spartans comes on the special teams unit, which missed a short field goal, had a PAT blocked and missed out on a decent onside kick attempt.
A mix of a fast start for New Mexico and a slow start for San Jose State’s offense also prevented the Spartans from ever putting pressure on the Lobos. UNM continued to run with ease as San Jose State scrambled to play catch up in spurts for the entire 60 minutes.
When it was over
New Mexico running back Tyrone Owens’s 42-yard run with 3:10 remaining.
The play that probably cost the Spartans was Kenny Potter’s third-quarter pass that was intercepted and returned 37 yards for a touchdown by New Mexico’s Austin Ocasio. That put the Spartans down 41-20 going into the fourth quarter.
Surprisingly, San Jose State fought their way back into the contest. Deonte Cooper punched in a two-yard touchdown, Maurice McKnight intercepted a pass, then Cooper took a swing pass from Potter for 45 yards for a touchdown to make it a seven-point game. The Spartans’ defense actually forced back-to-back three-and-outs to give SJSU two chances to tie the game, but the offense managed -7 yards on those drives.
Tyrone Owens broke the back-and-forth open with a 42-yard run, setting up a UNM touchdown, making it 48-34 Lobos.
SJSU managed one last effort, but an onside kick was unsuccessful.
- Kenny Potter has been a polarizing quarterback for Spartans fans, but he had to have earned respect from most today. It was clear he was not 100 percent and continuously took additional big hits, but picked himself up every time and gave an honorable effort. Other than his pick-six he was one of the best things going for the SJSU, finishing with 314 yards and 3 touchdowns on 16 of 29 completions.
- Zamore Zigler played outstanding early before he was sidelined with an injury - 91 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries. The positive news was that his injury was reported as just a sprain (ankle), meaning we should be seeing more of Zigler this season.
- Tim Crawley may show up on sportscenter tonight for his double juke move on his way to a 20-yard touchdown rush. He also caught a 65-yard bomb from Potter.
What it means
San Jose State falls to 1-4 on the season, which is the worst start to a Ron Caragher season at SJSU. With road games at San Diego State and Boise State looming, you can essentially circle two more losses on the team’s schedule. Outside of what would be two monumental upsets, the Spartans will have to be flawless at home versus Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV and Air Force, topped with a season-ending win at Fresno State, just to break even at 6-6 and possibly get to a bowl game.
San Jose State is one bad step away from this season really getting away from them, raising more than fair questions about a change in leadership.
What the fans are saying
“Potter had good moments and bad but he played his *** off through injury from the jump. He has his limitations but he deserves credit for leaving it all out there.”
“We beat the spread.... That is the first time this year.”
“Worst defense in years”
“We had a couple of chances in 4th quarter and didn't get it done.... So disappointing”
“I know [Caragher] has gone to great lengths to distance himself from Coach Mac, but the one thing he should have adopted from him is dedicating one period of practice to defending against the option. Mac did it just to prepare for Navy, who we faced three years in a row. Now we have two teams in conference running option offenses and by all accounts Ron waits until game week to prepare for them.”
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