Tomey: "You've Got To Finish In This Game"

San Jose State Coach Dick Tomey, during his weekly meeting with the media on Monday, spoke of the effect that the loss to Idaho last Saturday night had on his team. He also found some postives to take from that game, and looks towards the game this weekend with rival Fresno State.

On Monday, San Jose State Head Coach Dick Tomey did not mince words when speaking about his team's defeat at the hands of the Idaho Vandals last Saturday night; nor did he attempt to sugarcoat the loss or minimize its impact on the players and coaches. "In my feeling, it was a devastating loss to everybody" said Tomey. "It was the kind of loss that you go in the locker room after the game, and you look in people's faces and you just see a lot of guys who really hurt." The Spartans were hoping to jumpstart the Western Athletic Conference portion of their schedule with a Homecoming victory against the upstart Vandals. Instead, Tomey saw his team give up a three point lead in the final two minutes of the game, losing by a score of 29-25. "I don't think you can minimize that with your team" said Tomey. "I don't think you can act like it's nothing." Tomey went on to say that "If you win a game like that, all those mistakes are washed away. To lose a game like that, you just beat yourself up with of all the things that could have been. We were just short. We just didn't finish. And you've got to finish in this game to win"

Tomey was gracious in praising the Idaho Vandals, a team he feels will play in a bowl game this season. "The team that deserved to win that game won it" said Tomey. "They lost the momentum late in the fourth quarter and they regained it. They stopped us after the interception. They stopped us on fourth down. Then they took the ball and stuck it in the end zone." Tomey believes that all four losses suffered by the Spartans this season (USC, Utah, Stanford, and Idaho) have come at the hands of teams that will play in bowl games.

Not only was the loss a disappointing start to San Jose State's WAC schedule, it makes it nearly impossible for the Spartans to realistically qualify for a bowl game. The Spartans would have to win six of their final seven games just to reach the 7-5 mark. With trips to Fresno, Boise, and Ruston, Louisiana still remaining, and a home date with a resurgent Nevada team still to come, it will take a Herculean effort by the Spartans just to reach the .500 mark. Technically, the Spartans need only finish with a 6-6 record to be bowl eligible. However, they did exactly that last season, but were passed over by the Motor City Bowl officials in favor of Florida International. So, seven wins would appear to the optimum number.

As devastating as the loss to Idaho was, Tomey still managed to point out several positives that came out of the game. "I thought we competed on defense" said Tomey. "The first half we stopped the run very effectively. But, the second half we didn't." Tomey was pleased with the play of quarterback Jordan La Secla, who started for only the third time in his collegiate career. "Jordan La Secla had times in that game where he looked like, you'd have a hard time wanting anybody else" said Tomey. "He looked like just as good a quarterback that you can imagine, in terms of where he was throwing the ball (and) the accuracy he was showing." Tomey pointed out one specific moment in which he felt the offense executed well as an entire unit. "The ball that we threw in the fourth quarter for a touchdown was a blitz" said Tomey. "(Idaho) brought everybody, and our offensive line picked it up. Pat Perry, stepped up and picked it up. Jordan threw a perfect strike." Tomey pointed out the Spartans' kicking game as being a plus, as both place-kicker Tyler Cope and punter Philip Zavala having strong games. Additionally, Tomey said that true freshman defensive end Travis Johnson had his best game in his short career. Another player that had his best game thus far was wide receiver Marquis Avery. "His performance was outstanding" said Tomey. "He made some critical catches."

Going forward, Tomey believes the Spartans are close to being a good team. "When you look at the plays, it's a lot of guys playing really well" said Tomey. "It's a lot of guys playing with great effort; guys doing things right. But, on one play on offense or defense, we have one or two guys doing it wrong and everybody else doing it right, and there was too much of that." When defending against the run, which has been a weakness for the Spartans since the beginning of the season, Tomey sees mental errors as the main culprit. "There's too many cases where somebody, their eyes are not right. Their feet are not right. They're in the wrong gap. They don't fit the run the right way" said Tomey.

Looking towards to this weekend's game at Fresno State (Saturday, 7:00 PM), the Spartans will face a team that, like the Spartans, lost three straight games to probable bowl teams (Boise State, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati). The Bulldogs, however, won their WAC opener in grand fashion, thrashing Hawaii in Honolulu by a score of 42-17. The most daunting task will be stopping the Fresno State run game, which is led my junior running back Ryan Mathews, who is averaging 148 yards per game, and currently has 741 yards on the ground in five games, which ranks second in the nation. "Ryan Mathews is just a sledgehammer" said Tomey. Tomey thinks the key to stopping Mathews is to keep him from breaking into the secondary, where he's most dangerous. Tomey pointed out that even Boise State, a team that traditionally tackles well in the open field, had fits bringing down Mathews once he broke into the open. Tomey also sees the matchup between Frenso State's senior wide receivers (Chastin West, Seyi Ajirotutu, and Marlon Moore), against the slightly smaller Spartans' cornerbacks (Devin Newsome, Alex Germany, and Peyton Thompson), as being critical.

This Saturday's contest will be the 74th meeting between the two schools. Fresno State leads the all-time series 37-33, with three ties. The Bulldogs have won the last two times the teams have met, and have won 17 of the past 18 games. Tomey believes the rivalry between the two schools is still important. "The rivalry is very important to San Jose State people" said Tomey. "It's important to (Fresno State Head Coach) Pat Hill, and Fresno State people as well. I think the fact that San Jose State has not competed as well with Fresno in the last 20+ years tends to make some people cynical about the rivalry. It's something we take very seriously." Tomey and his wife Nanci are close friends with Pat Hill and his wife Cathy. Hill was on Tomey's staff at Arizona prior to his taking the Fresno State job. "I talk with him on the phone at least once a month" said Tomey. "I admire the man a lot, and the job that he's done. I thought (Fresno State) took another step, in terms of their national recognition, when Pat moved there". Tomey will not let his friendship with Hill get in the way of enjoying a victory over the Bulldogs, should that occur. "You like to beat your friends. There are a lot of coaches that I have great respect for, and that doesn't keep you from wanting to win the game."

Tomey believes an upset over the Bulldogs would be huge for the San Jose State program. Despite his team's poor start, and the massive hole they have dug themselves into, Tomey remains ever the optimist. "I remind myself that some of the most gratifying seasons I've ever had as a coach started off exactly like this. If you can turn it around by the end of the year, you can't even remember the way you started."

Additional Notes:

Defensive Tackle Kalvin Cressel, out the past two games with a dislocated elbow, is expected to begin practicing this week, and may be available to play this weekend. The Spartans, who have suffered several injuries to their defensive line, would welcome the return of Cressel, in hopes that he can help beef-up their run defense.

Tight End Terrence Williams has been lightly jogging and working out on the side, regaining his strength after suffering an ankle injury prior to the start of the season. Williams won't be available to play against Fresno State, but may be back after the bye week, in time to play against Boise State.

Tomey was very pleased with the play of Brandon Rutley against Idaho, after his missing two and half games. Tomey said the plan is to integrate Rutley more into the offense as the season goes forward.

Follow Inside Sparta on Twitter and Facebook




Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at mike@insidesparta.com

Better yet, join the rest of the Inside Sparta community in discussions of this article, and more, on the Inside Sparta Discussion Forums!

Inside TheSpartans Top Stories