Spring Game: Defense Stars / QB Role Unanswered.

SJ State's defense showed improvement with a near shutout in the Spring Football Game on Saturday. The QB situation remains unanswered. (Pre Season and Spring Game Results Inside!)

The Spartans had a misearable and disappointing year under head coach Fitz Hill last season, but the spring game saturday revived hopes of the beginning of a new era.

San Jose was blown out in nearly half of their games and only posted three wins last year, but the big question is, does anyone in San Jose really care besides the 8,000 to 10,000 loyal Spartan Boosters and Fans?

Both the football and financial situations are highly precarious as we all know. There have been predictions that San Jose will not be able to meet more stringent NCAA requirements. Will they be able to get the ship righted? That remains to be seen.

Regardless, the team showed improvement during spring practice saturday, and nearly any success this year will be an improvement.

Biggest Question Mark:

The running back position appears to be pretty thin, especially without Deonce Whitaker. Gaines and Miles battled it out saturday. Both are seniors listed as probable starters on the Spring Roster, but nothing glaring told the story about either of these two saturday.

However, Senior tailback, Lance Martin, rushed for 50 yards in nine carries, and looked like he may vye for the RB position as well, so it's getting interesting on the rushing side of the play book.

Smallest Worry:

Marcus Arroyo at Quarterback. Toward the end of last season, Arroyo was putting up some monster numbers including a record-setting game against Nevada in which he was 21 of 26 for 476 yards and five touchdowns. If he can maintain his focus and continue putting up those kinds of numbers, he should help the Spartans get a few more wins this year.

Key Position Battle:

Pick just about any position on the defense and there is going to be a battle. Hill has signed a number of JC transfers who are looking to step in immediately and become impact players. The Linebacker, safety, and defensive end positions in particular all have a great deal of youth and inexperience.

Spring Game Notes:

First, a few observations about the "D".

San Jose State's defense showed improvement with a near shutout in the Spring Football Game on Saturday.

The defense was looking vastly improved, playing more aggressive and more physical. On the defensive side, four turnovers occurred, including two interceptions by junior safety Gerald Jones on the first two possessions.

Jones came up with two of the defense's three interceptions and scored the defense's one touchdown on the second possession of the 57-play scrimmage.

The defense stopped the offense 16 of 17 times and came up with three pass interceptions and a fumble recovery

The Offense:

One score in 17 possessions? There is cause for concern that our offense may still need some serious re-tooling before WAC play begins this fall.

The offense, which gained just 188 yards, did not score until the next to last series saturday.

This is an offense that lost all-conference receivers Edell Shepherd and Jarmar Julien, plus tailback Deonce Whitaker and starting quarterback Clint Carlson. With the loss of 14 starters from last years squad, Coach Hill has some work to do.

The offense seemed to take care of the pigskin better (From a fumble perspective), and they need to carry this into the fall, as the turn-over ratio must decrease if we stand a chance at the big time road games that open the season. The interceptions, however, are still of heavy concern, and will bury the Spartans chances if this occurs at the away games at tier one campuses.

Saturday was a wet and rain scattred afternoon, and the field was slick, thus the offense missed many plays due to bad footing.

It brought back bad memories of the mud bowl against Stanford last year! It was not that bad folks... :)

This years spring game seemed to lack some fizzle of past years, and the dim weather seemed to put a slight damper on the day.

Quarterback Candidates:

All of the QB's had numerous knocked down passes at the line of scrimmage, and many looked just plain ugly.

Marcus Arroyo and junior-college transfer Scott Rislov from North Dakota, were a combined 6 of 16 passing for 37 yards for one touchdown with three interceptions.

The first of Rislov's two interceptions came on his initial pass from scrimmage in the first half, and defensive player, Jones, picked off and ran 5 yards into the end zone .

The game's lone offensive score came on the final series: a 15-yard pass from Rislov to senior Tuati Wooden, who led the team with four receptions for 53 yards.

Sophomore Beau Pierce was 4 of 10 passing for 53 yards and had the longest play of the game, a 30-yard pass to Rufus Skillern.

The quarterback situation is scary to say the least, and it been learned that senior Marcus Arroyo has been named the starter by Coach Hill in the early period. The Coach stated that it is mainly becuase of Arroyo's experience, that he has been deemed the likely candidate to start the season.

More Offensive Notes:

With the loss of Edell Shepard at reciever, the offonse looked a little bland. This position is also still up for grabs, but who will step up?

Kicking Improved:

SpartanThunder.com gives the top-hat, cane, and ascott to Senior kicker Nick Gilliam for the spring game's MVP.

Gilliam went 5 for 5 during a field goal kicks, clobbering a 53-yard boot in his last attempt.

Conclusion to a wet day:

Overall, it was a gloomy and wet day for the spring game, but a few more questions were answered, and a few were left un-amswered as well.

Coach Hill certainly has his work cut out for him, and he only has two years to make it happen, before the NCAA vultures swoop in and feast on a spartan carcass, that was once a mighty warrior in the 70' and mid to late 80's.

Keep the tradition alive, and buy your season tickets today by calling 408-924-SJTX.

Go Spartan Football in 2002!


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