During his weekly press conference on Monday, September 28th, San Jose State Head Coach Dick Tomey said that he was most pleased with the Spartans' victory over Cal Poly last Saturday night because it was a total group effort. "Truly, it was a team win…everybody played a part" said Tomey. "I think there were a lot of people making plays in the second half that helped the Spartans win." Tomey also said that the game was exactly the type of victory the Spartans needed. "That game did us so much more good than if we'd have won it 35 to nothing. It made us play our guts out against a good team" said Tomey. "Our team needed to win a game that was a tough game in the fourth quarter, where we had to make plays on offense and defense, and in the kicking game."
Tomey singled out several players for their efforts in the Spartans victory over the Mustangs, including punter Philip Zavala, who twice in the second half pinned Cal Poly inside their own one yard line. "That's extraordinary" said Tomey. "You don't see that in the NFL. You don't see it in college football. To have two in one game at the one yard line; I don't know when that last happened." Sophomore free safety Tanner Burns was named Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player Of The Week on Monday. Burns, who led the Spartans with 11 tackles against Cal Poly, recovered a fumble which set-up a touchdown for the Spartans, and intercepted a pass to end the game. "Tanner has really performed very, very well for us" said Tomey. "He's been the right man in the right place, at the right time an awful lot." Tomey also praised running back Lamon Muldow, who exploded for 188 yards in 20 carries in place of the injured Brandon Rutley. "That's the best game a San Jose State back has had since I've been here" said Tomey. "(He had) over one hundred yards after contact. He had over one hundred yards after somebody hit him. He made people miss, he ran with power, and he showed some break-away capability " Tomey was pleased with quarterback Jordan La Secla's ability to bounce back and play well in the second half after he "stunk it up" in the first quarter. Tomey also noted La Secla's toughness under pressure. "He stepped into a couple of throws when he was really going to get hit."
The Spartans do not play this upcoming weekend. The coaching staff will use the bye week to review tapes of the first four games. "We'll get a chance to analyze our own performances in more detail" said Tomey. "We just get a better chance to see who we are at this present time, because we've changed a lot as a football team over the last four weeks. We know a lot more about our personnel." Tomey welcomes the bye week, and sees it as a positive. ""I think a bye is always helpful, because I think you get players refreshed" said Tomey. "I've never been in a situation when I've had a bye as a coach, and I felt it wasn't helpful."
The week off will also allow several injured Spartans to get healthy. "We look forward to the bye week and getting a chance to get some players back that did not play against Cal Poly" said Tomey. Players expected to return to action include Brandon Rutley, defensive tackles Justin Willis and Joe Nigos, cornerback Alex Germany and two-way player Dominique Hunsucker. In the case of Rutley, sidelined with an ankle injury, he could have played against Cal Poly if needed, but was held out as a precaution against further injury. Not expected to be back in time for the WAC opener against Idaho on October 10th is defensive tackle Kalvin Cressel, who is nursing a dislocated elbow.
The game against Idaho will match the Spartans against what Tomey refers to as "the most improved team in the league." The Vandals, who play Colorado State before they face the Spartans, have a 3-1 win-loss record, which is their best start since 1994, and includes a victory at Northern Illinois last weekend. "If your playing Idaho and you're looking for the team they were last year, they're not there" said Tomey. "They're just a completely different team. The players are playing very, very, very hard; and, more than anything now, they believe they're going to win." Tomey praised Idaho Head Coach Robb Akey for the job he and his staff have done. "Anytime you take over a program that has not excelled, the hardest thing to establish is belief. And I think Robb Akey has established that." Idaho's defense is currently ranked number one in the WAC against the run, giving up an average of 102.0 yards per game. The Vandals have yet to fumble in any of their first four games.
With the improvement of teams like Idaho and Utah State, Tomey sees a lot more parity in the WAC this season. "The one thing I'm sure of is our conference is really going to be interesting" said Tomey. "This is going to be the most competitive Western Athletic Conference that we've had since I've been here."
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