San Jose Defensive Preview

San Jose is a team that has improved a lot on Defense this year. They are the best pass defense in the Mountain West.

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE

(DEFENSIVE END)

First year starter 6-3 258 senior Adrian Blake (Scout 2*) mans one end of the Spartans 4-3 defense. Blake came to San Jose prior to the 2013 season following two seasons at San Jose CC. As a junior in 2013 Blake saw minimal action in 6 games being credited with just 3 tackles. Blake moved from DT to DE prior to the 2014 season and has started 8 of the 9 games that he has appeared in logging 26 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 1 QB hurry. Backing up Blake is 6-5 235 senior Garrett Guanella (Scout 2*). Guanella came to San Jose from Santa Rosa CC following his sophomore 2012 season. In 2013 as a junior Guanella saw action in 4 games at OLB finishing the season with 9 tackles. Guanella made the move to DE prior to the 2014 season and has seen his playing time dramatically increase starting in 2 games and playing in 8 total, making 18 tackles and breaking up 1 pass.

The second starting DE is 6-3 252 junior Cedric Lousi (Scout 2*). Lousi had played in 25 games prior to embarking on an LDS church mission following the 2011 season. Lousi had his best season to date as a true freshman in 2010 when he played in all 13 games totaling 26 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. In 2014 Lousi has started in 6 of the 8 games that he has played in providing 24 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. 6-3 244 senior Sean Bacon (Scout 2*) provides experience as the backup to Lousi. Bacon has his best season in 2013 as a junior when he appeared in all 12 games starting 7 of them, with 5 of the starts coming as an OLB, where he logged 32 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, a team high 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery and 1 pass breakup. In 2014 Bacon has only managed to appear in 6 games mustering up 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 sack.

(DEFENSIVE TACKLE)

Returning for his fourth year as a starter is 6-5 285 senior Travis Raciti (Scout 2*). Originally recruited as a TE, Raciti had started on the defensive side of the ball in 33 of a possible 37 games prior to the 2014 season with his best season coming as a sophomore in 2012 when he earned a selection to the All-WAC First Team by collecting 52 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery and 4 pass breakups. Now in his final season in 2014, Raciti has once again started all 10 games for the Spartans tallying a fourth on the team 56 tackles, a second on the team 4.5 tackles for loss, a team high 3 sacks, 1 pass breakup, 2 QB hurries and 1 forced fumble. Charged with the near impossible task of backing up Raciti is 6-3 290 redshirt freshman Travis Miller (Scout 2*). Prior to redshirting for the Spartans in 2013, Miller competed in two varsity seasons at Simi Valley high school where he finished his high school career being

credited with 138 tackles and 12 sacks in his two varsity seasons, while also being selected to the 2012 first-team all-ventura county and as a two-time all-miramonte league selection. in 2014 miller has seen action in 4 of the last 5 games and 6 games overall but he has yet to record any stats.

starting next to the steady raciti is 6-2 280 junior tony popovich (scout 2*). popovich began his sophomore season of 2013 as a starter in the spartans first 7 games and then missed the remainder of the season with an injury. prior to the season ending injury, popovich was able to record a career high 15 tackles and 1 blocked kick. in 2014 popovich has started in 7 of the 10 games that he has played in, totaling 23 tackles, a tied for third on the team 4 tackles for loss, second on the team with 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup and 1 forced fumble. backing up popovich is 6-3 275 senior foloi vae (scout nr). vae had a solid season as a junior in 2013 when he was credited with 22 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack. in 2014 vae has started in 1 of the 9 games he has appeared in making 12 tackles thus far.

LINEBACKER

(OUTSIDE)

getting the nod at one olb spot is 6-3 248 sophomore isaiah irving (scout nr). irving started in 9 of the 11 games he played in as a true freshman in 2013, rolling up 40 tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. in 2014 irving has seen a dramatic drop in productivity starting in only 4 of 9 games thus far and making just 13 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. providing backup behind irving is 6-2 222 sophomore brad kuh (scout 2*). kuh saw action in just 9 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013 primarily as a special teams contributor and was not in on any tackles. kuh has made the most of his opportunity in 2014 playing in 10 games with 1 start and logging 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 fumble recovery.

starting at the other olb spot is the very solid 6-1 235 sophomore Christian Tago (scout 3*). originally recruited as a safety, tago started in 8 of the 11 games that he participated in as a redshirt freshman in 2013, finishing the season with a second on the team 90 tackles, a team high 10.5 tackles for loss, and tied for a team high 4 sacks and 1 interception. tago currently leads the team in tackles in 2014 with 89, to go along with 5 tackles for loss and tied a for third on the team 4 pass breakups. backing up the spectacular tago is 6-2 219 redshirt freshman william ossai (scout nr). prior to joining san jose for the 2013 season, ossai finished his high school career at oak grove where he led the team averaging 8.6 tackles per game and 0.6 sacks per contest as a senior. In 2014 Ossai has started 1 game out of the 10 that he has played in thus far while being credited with 17 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup and 1 forced fumble.

(MIDDLE)

Steady 6-4 252 senior Vince Buhagiar (Scout *) returns for his senior season after missing the 2013 season with an injury. Originally recruited as a DE, Buhagiar earned First Team All-WAC honors in 2012 as a junior after he racked up a career high tying and second on the team 89 tackles, a second on the team 9.5 tackles for loss, a second on the team 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 1 pass breakup. Buhagiar has started in all 10 games in 2014 already racking up a second on the team 85 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 QB hurry and 1 forced fumble. Also providing backup behind Buhagiar as well, is 6-2 222 sophomore Brad Kuh. Kuh saw action in just 9 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013 primarily as a special teams contributor and was not in on any tackles. Kuh has made the most of his opportunity in 2014 playing in 10 games with 1 start and logging 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 fumble recovery.

CORNERBACK

6-0 196 junior Jimmy Pruitt (Scout 2*) returns to CB after a stint at safety for the 2013 season. As a sophomore safety in 2013 Pruitt had his best season to date as he started 11 of the 12 games that he played in, totaling 52 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 3 pass breakups. In 2014 Pruitt has returned to his natural position and started all 9 games that he has seen action in, posting 32 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, a team high 2 interceptions, second on the team in pass breakups with 6, a team high 2 forced fumbles and a team high 2 fumble recoveries. Backing up Pruitt is the very solid 6-0 185 true freshman Maurice McKnight (Scout 3*). As a high school senior in 2013 at Arroyo high school McKnight finished as an All-San Andreas League selection his junior and senior seasons at two positions and an All-C.I.F. pick as a defensive back as a senior. In 2014 McKnight has been a pleasant surprise as he has been a starter in 4 of the 10 games he has participated in thus far, collecting a sixth on the team 48 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, a third on the team 4 pass breakups, 1 QB hurry and 1 forced fumble.

Starting opposite Pruitt is 5-11 185 sophomore and University of Washington transfer Cleveland Wallace (Scout 3*). As a redshirt freshman in 2013 at Washington, Wallace played in nine regular season games in 2013 as a fifth defensive back and special teams player and was credited with 9 tackles. Wallace received immediate eligibility for the 2014 season following his transfer and he has made the most of his opportunity at San Jose State, starting in 9 of the 10 games that he has played in, making 19 tackles, 1 interception, a team high 13 pass breakups and 1 fumble recovery. 5-10 177 senior Dasheon Frierson (Scout NR) provides experience as a backup to Wallace. Frierson came to San Jose from Fresno City CC prior to the 2013 season where as a junior last season, Frierson saw a considerable amount of action starting in 8 of 12 games logging 36 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception and a second on the team 9 pass breakups. With the addition of Wallace, Frierson has not had as much success in 2014 as he has started in only 3 of 10 games while collecting 17 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.

SAFETY

The back end of the secondary is filled with experience as it consists of three seniors and a junior. 5-10 182 Forrest Hightower (Scout 2*) is the first senior on the list as well as a starter. Originally recruited as a RB, Hightower has seen action in 35 total games on the defensive side of the ball over the course of his career but his junior season of 2013 was by far his best as he became a part time starter for the first time in his career when he started in 7 of 12 games and tallied 63 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 4 pass breakups. In 2014 Hightower has started in 9 of 10 games while racking up a fifth on the team 50 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups and 1 QB hurry. Providing backup to Hightower is the second of three seniors, 6-0 193 Esston Al-Uqdah (Scout 2*). Al-Uqdah joined the Spartans prior to the 2013 season from LA Harbor CC as a junior. In 2013 Al-Uqdah played sparingly seeing most of his action in 7 games near the end of the season in which he made 8 tackles. In 2014 Al-Uqdah has seen action in one more game than 2013 and he has equalled his 2013 total with 8 tackles on the season.

The third and final senior, and the starter opposite Hightower is 6-3 212 Akeem King (Scout 2*). Originally recruited as a WR, King saw action in just 10 total games over his first two seasons at San Jose. However, King played in 11 games as a junior in 2013 being credited with 15 tackles and 2 pass breakups. Now seeing action as a starter for the first time in his career in 2014, King has started all 10 games leading up to Friday's game at Utah State raking in a third on the team 58 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 2 QB hurries. The lone junior of the group is 5-11 203 Simon Connette (Scout 2*). Connette has his best season as a sophomore in 2013 as he saw action in all 12 games including starts in 6 of them while totaling 45 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception and 3 pass breakups. Connette has not enjoyed the success in 2014 that had last season as he has only started in 1 of the 9 games that he has appeared in logging only 9 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 QB hurry, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery.

PUNTER

5-11 225 true freshman Michael Carrizosa (Scout NR) has landed the starting spot at punter. Punting collegiately for the first time in 2014 Carrizosa has punting 28 times for a 36.8 yard per punt average, 1 touchback, 7 punts fair caught, 5 punts downed inside the 20, 2 50+ plus yard kicks, 1 blocked kick and a long punt of 51 yards.

KICKER

6-0 187 junior Austin Lopez (Scout 2*) returns for his third season in a Spartan uniform. Lopez is the reigning two time All-Conference Second Team Placekicker from San Jose's first season in the Mountain West in 2013 and final season in the WAC in 2012, which he earned ironically by scoring the exact same amount of points in both his freshman and sophomore seasons with a total of 105 points each. As a freshman in 2012, Lopez hit 54 of 57 extra point attempts and was a perfect 17 of 17 on his field goal tries. In 2013 as a sophomore, Lopez improved to 39 of 40 makes on his extra point kicks and although not perfect still connected on 22 of 27 field goal tries, with his first career miss coming against Utah State. In 2014 Lopez currently sits a perfect 25 of 25 on his extra point attempts but his field goal percentage has plummeted, as he has only managed to hit 12 of 23 tries with a long make of 50 yards to go along with 2 blocked kicks.

Brian Phillips - Football Insider for UstateAggies.com


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