The Spartans kicked off WAC play with a 21-14 victory over Utah State on Saturday. San Jose State has now won four straight games for the first time since 1991 and, dating to last season, the Spartans have won six in a row at Spartan Stadium.
San Jose State's success has been a big surprise, but Saturday's win was an ugly one, including an array of turnovers and mistakes. That the Spartans were able to win in spite of the slop is good news for San Jose State.
"We were sloppy with the ball, obviously, both on offense and in special teams," San Jose State coach Dick Tomey said. "But you have to go out there and win anyway, and we did, and I am real proud of that."
Indeed, that's an important point. Good teams win ugly games, and the victory over Utah State was the kind of game San Jose State has so often lost over the past decade.
Utah State (1-5) jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but San Jose State scored right before halftime and trailed by a touchdown at intermission.
"Coach Tomey was intense, but he didn't seem angry," sophomore cornerback Christopher Owens said. "He knew we had it in us, and just wanted to push it out. Coach Tomey is great. He's always excited. He knows we can do better, and we did that."
San Jose State travels to Nevada Saturday.
"It gets really tough now," Tomey said. "Nevada is one of the best teams in the league. But I can't wait. Now we get to test ourselves against a team that was in a bowl game last year, and won it."
GAME BALL GOES TO: LB Matt Costelo -- The junior and unquestioned leader of this defense became the first WAC player this season to register 20 tackles in a single game.
"Matt Castelo was also an absolute warrior in there," San Jose State coach Dick Tomey said after the Spartans' victory over Utah State. KEEP AN EYE ON: DT Freddy McCutcheon -- Made his 2006 debut after missing two months with a knee injury suffered in fall camp, and was impressive. His best play was a stop for a 2-yard loss on 3rd-and-1.
"It was fun," he said. "Everybody had more energy. After the first couple of plays, I started gaining confidence in my knee. I made a couple of cuts, and knew that my knee could take it."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "What I told the team is that whether you are a pitcher in baseball, or you are a football team or whatever, if you are going to be a good team and have a good season, you have to win when you are not at your absolute best. To our credit, we were able to do that. We have been tremendous in the turnover area all year. And we just were not (today). Our defense didn't really create anything, but they shut them out in the second half. We got off the field when we needed to." --San Jose State coach Dick Tomey on a 21-14 victory over Utah State.
LOOKING GOOD: San Jose State has been among the nation's leaders in turnover margin all season. The defense played solid, allowing Utah State short completions but not yielding the big play.
RB Yonus Davis -- While his day was highlighted by a 33-yard touchdown reception, Davis also was solid on the ground, with 60 yards on 12 carries. WR James Jones -- He fumbled three times but lost only one of them and finished with eight receptions for 134 yards, including a 50-yard scoring catch. He struggled with the punt returns, though, muffing three.
"It was a crazy day, both for myself and for the team," Jones said. "We have been playing well on offense, but we came out today with turnovers. Even though we won, we know we can do better than that. Coach Tomey tells us that to win a game is hard. But I give it up to my teammates. They kept fighting."
CB Dwight Lowery -- His fumble recovery against Utah State was his ninth takeaway of the season. That leads all D-1 players. He also had 11 tackles.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The first half was disappointing, especially at home.
QB Adam Tafralis -- Last season, his performance against Utah State would have been considered among his best, which illustrates his improvement. He finished 15-of-28 for 252 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but his slow start was almost too much for San Jose State to overcome.
"I came out flat, and it made it worse on my team," Tafralis said. "I was lucky that my defense plays the way that they do. They picked up the slack, but I put that on myself."
PR James Jones -- While his receiving skills were exceptional against Utah State, the punt returns were a nightmare and if he hadn't recovered two of his three muffs, the outcome could have been reversed.
ROSTER REPORT: T Bradis McGriff made his Spartans' debut against Utah State and was solid at right tackle. A sophomore transfer from San Diego State, McGriff is expected to blossom quickly into one of the team's top blockers.
Also, coach Dick Tomey reported no serious injuries after the win over Utah State.
"We're excited. We came out of today with no injuries, which is a positive thing. The guys that didn't play will have another week to get healthy," San Jose State QB Adam Tafralis said. "Bradis McGriff got his first start today, and it was great to see that. A massive guy like him needs to be on the field."
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