Story re-published in accordance with SpartanThunder.com's joint agreement and strategic alliance with SJSUspartans.com, and in conjunction with prior verbal consent by SJSU Athletics.
Champaign, Ill.----- Controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage, the University of Illinois overcame an early 7-0 deficit and handed San Jose State University a 40-19 non-conference football loss.
The Spartans (1-1) missed out on a bid to become 2-0 for the first time since the 1987 season as they took their eighth consecutive road loss dating back to 2003.
"I give all the credit to Illinois and its coaching staff. We were out-coached, out-played, out-disciplined, out-toughed and outdone in every phase of the game," said San Jose State coach Dick Tomey. "We hope to learn from it tomorrow when we watch the film. We have a chance to be a good team, but we're very far from it right now.
"They dominated the line of scrimmage so much both ways that I think it's unfair to go back, pick at little things and say that was the turning point."
The Illini (2-0) made quick work of a 7-0 first-quarter deficit building up a 40-7 advantage by the early fourth quarter. San Jose State struck first as senior safety Clarence Cunningham blocked a punt try by All-America candidate Steve Weatherford. Al Guidry's recovery on the Illinois-19 preceded a 6-yard quarterback draw by Adam Tafralis for the game's first score.
ILLINOIS CAPITALIZES; SPARTANS DON'T
Misfortune and mistakes then set in for the Spartans in the remainder of the first quarter. A roughing the passer penalty negated a potential San Jose State takeaway on an apparent Josh Powell interception. An Adam Tafralis pass ricocheted off the hands of James Jones and was intercepted by linebacker Remond Willis, who returned the ball inside the San Jose State 10-yard line. And, a holding call wiped out a 70-yard kickoff return by John Broussard. By the end of the first quarter, Illinois was ahead, 21-7.
"When you get on top of a good team like Illinois, you want to stay on top. They made some adjustments," said San Jose State linebacker Bobby Godinez. "We have no one else to blame but ourselves."
A CONTRAST IN MOVING THE BALL
Illinois piled up 492 yards of total offense, 243 on the ground, and scored all six times it was inside the Spartans' 20-yard line. When San Jose State stiffened, Illini kicker Jason Reda countered with four field goals including a long of 45 yards.
"I liked how we moved the football. There was much better control on offense," said Illinois football coach Ron Zook. "Defensively, we played so much better. We tackled pretty good up until the end."
In contrast, San Jose State mustered just 15 yards rushing after a 253-yard performance in the opener against Eastern Washington.
"We were hoping when they were pulling back and playing their cover-two with a seven-man front that we could run the ball. When they can stop the run, it's kind of had to pass, because they know they can still drop and stop the run," said quarterback Adam Tafralis, who completed 9-of-15 passes for 70 yards
San Jose State's only other break came on a Christopher Vedder second-quarter interception. Even with five tries inside the 2-yard line, the Spartans were unable to score leaving themselves with a 27-7 deficit.
A passing attack which produced 15 gains of 10 or more yards a week earlier was limited to just six against the Big Ten Conference foe. Three of those plays occurred after Illinois had taken a 37-7 lead.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY PROVIDES HIGHLIGHTS
If there was a bright spot for San Jose State in hot and muggy Memorial Stadium where the temperature was 87 degrees at kickoff, it was with the special teams. For the second week in a row, punter Waylon Prather did his part as the Spartans netted an average of 42.5 yards per punt. Trestin George returned a kickoff 96-yards for a fourth quarter touchdown. Freshman Jared Strubeck kicked field goals of 22 and 36 yards. However, Strubeck missed an extra-point try hitting the left upright ending a team streak of 58 consecutive kicking point-after-touchdown conversions dating back to the 2003 season.
"WORK IN PROGRESS"
The Spartans ended up using three quarterbacks with freshman Chad Bozzo seeing extended time in the second half and redshirt junior J.P. Greco playing the final series. Bozzo was 6-of-10 for 111 yards while Greco completed all four of his attempts.
"Both quarterbacks are a ‘work-in-progress.' We've got two guys who are still growing," reflected Tomey. "We gave Chad a chance to show what he can do and he did a great job at times."
Overall, the improvement the Spartans counted on from game one to game two was less than hoped.
"We didn't improve as much as we needed to. The patient has a pulse. The patient did not improve enough, but there is a pulse," added the San Jose State head coach. "Their execution, at times, was excellent. Being out-toughed is a mind-set. I'm sure they (Illinois) had coaches in their face all week long."
"We started fast and finished slow. We need to start fast and finish faster," said George, who notched his second career kickoff return for a touchdown. "They kept pounding us. We have a couple of weeks to get things fixed. We can see what we did wrong and improve."
The Spartans return to action, Saturday, September 24, when they take on San Diego State in Qualcomm Stadium.