The San Jose State football team held a controlled scrimmage to finish out this seasons spring practice schedule under a bright blue sky at the Spartan practice facility on Saturday April 25th. About two hundred fans watched intently as the offense scored five touchdowns. One on a two yard run by Lamon "Mojo" Muldrow, and four through the air. In all, about 70 plays from scrimmage were run, including several field goal attempts and some goal line practice.
What was apparent first and foremost was the offensive line. There were a couple of guys in that unit that were held out of the scrimmage that should be major contributors. All in all, the unit on the field Saturday seemed to be a little lighter and quicker then in previous years, and also seemed to hold their blocks slightly longer then we have seen in the past. They did allow four quarterback sacks and some hurries but overall showed some signs of life, which is a good start for this offense.
Three quarterbacks, senior Kyle Reed, junior Jordan La Secla and senior Myles Eden got snaps on Saturday, collectively throwing for four touchdowns while completing 21 of 38 and compiling 252 yards through the air. Reed was 7-10 for 109 yards and one TD, while La Secla was 9-22 for 64 yards and one touchdown. Eden rounded off the signal callers with a very efficient 5-6 for 79 yards and two touchdowns. The wide–outs did have a few dropped balls on very easy chances and had a few drops on some harder and well defended chances, so the stats very well could have looked much better. There were, however, a couple of instances that Reed and La Secla did have wide open receivers and were not able to get them the ball. I'm sure that part of the game will be refined in the coming months as they continue to familiarize themselves with the playbook and each other. There were still some timing issues with all three but those will hopefully be worked out throughout the summer and into training camp in August.
Teams will need to watch out for our wide receivers this year as they all have good size and deceptive speed. Senior Kevin Jurovich looks to be his old self with six catches for 98 yards and one touchdown. Head coach Dick Tomey has stated that Jurovich is still not 100-percent, if he isn't, that will bode well for the Spartans this season. The other receivers also had nice days. Sophomore Jordan Johnson was 3-68-1, junior Jalal Beauchman, 3-27, junior Marquis Avery 3-23-2 and was open for other plays and was either over thrown or there was some miss communication, which you expect to see in the spring. Avery will make some big plays this season. Sophomores Khalil Paden (2-21) and Michael Avila (2-9), senior Phillip Knight (1-9) and freshman tight end Ryan Otten (1-33) also got into the act. I did not see Josh Harrison in the game nor did I see Terrance Williams. Each one of these guys brings a little something different to the table, which should open things up for the QBs and the running backs, which brings me to another part that I was really interested in seeing with the Spartans revamped "O" — the running game.
In watching this phase of the game, I think the running game will be just fine. I would like to see a little more push from the offensive line. Most of the plays did tend to start inside which was lacking last season. Junior Lamon Muldrow had a couple of nice bounces to the outside when holes closed up but also seemed to hit the inside hole hard when they were there. On one play, Muldrow took a shot right in front of where I was standing, absorbed the hit and gained another 4-5 yards. If defenders don't wrap this kid up, he will make them pay dearly. I think we will like what we see from Muldrow. Senior Chris Reese also had a fine morning, breaking some tackles and running away from others. I didn't see senior Patrick Perry or sophomore Brandon Rutley running the ball but from all reports, they both have had very good springs, so the Spartans should be in good shape there as well.
In talking to some that have been to multiple practices, the offense was vanilla on Saturday compared to some of the stuff they have been seeing throughout the spring, so I look for much better things from this offense coming into the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, three of the top defensive linemen were held out of contact as well as a few others, so a lot of kids got some good work in and apparently have most of the spring. This should help this young squad with much needed depth when the main guys get back into the line up. This was the first season in the Tomey era that I would say that the offense was slightly ahead of the defense, which is nice for a change because we all know that Coach Tomey and defensive coordinator Keith Burns will not let this unit slip up. The D-linemen did get some push and recorded four QB sacks along with numerous hurries. Depth will be the key for this unit as they are not quite as big as the last couple of seasons. As such some sort of rotation will be a must to keep them fresh to avoid some end of game breakdowns.
The Linebackers looked to be fast in plugging the gaps and getting to the outside to keep the running backs from turning the corner on a few occasions.
I was most curious to see the defensive backs and how they would perform after losing two corners to the NFL draft along with safety Kyle Flynn to graduation. They seemed to hold their own against, in most cases, much taller receivers. I think there is some talent with this unit and as long as these guys can anticipate the plays and have good communication between them, they should be able to make enough plays to get the defense off the field. I think communication with this unit will be the key at least, especially early in the season.
Finally we get to special teams. Tyler Cope did all the field goal tries and made a 47 yarder. He also had 2 blocked, which were both on breakdowns of protection right up the middle. There was also a fake attempt that didn't work. I'm not positive if that was a blown play or was a called fake. It looked to me that the coaching staff called a fake but to the defenses credit, they were not fooled.
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Phil Paulsen is the Football Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Phil with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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