18 September 2011

Another blown opportunity for the Spartans

San Jose State lost 17-14 to the defending WAC first-place team and defending Fight Hunger Bowl champion Nevada Wolf Pack on yet ANOTHER last-minute end zone interception. Similar thing happened in 2010 in the Spartans' game against Utah State. So far, SJSU is 0-3 including 0-1 in the WAC, and I initially got a bit heated and (sorry if it offended you on facebook) and predicted a winless season. HOWEVER...in terms of scoring deficits, SJSU is improving, having lost in week 1 to Stanford by 54 (57-3) and in week 2 to UCLA by 10 (27-17). In the UCLA game 2 weeks ago SJSU had tied the game 17-17 after 3 quarters then completely shut down afterwards. Yesterday v. Nevada, both teams were tied 7-7 after the first, then Nevada led 17-7 after 3 quarters, and then SJSU's Brandon Rutley made a 4th-and-1 touchdown run fighting off a pile of Nevada defenders to put the score where it ended up being. With just over a minute left in the 4th, SJSU had driven 69 yards all the way to Nevada's 15 yard line. Noel Grigsby caught Matt Faulkner's 1st-and-10 pass in the end zone out of bounds, so it was an incomplete. The dagger in the Spartans' chest came in Faulkner's 3rd-and-9 pass targeted to Chandler Jones that got intercepted by Nevada's Duke Williams. At least SJSU had 2 interceptions, including Peyton Thompson's 1st-quarter one at the end zone to disrupt Nevada's first touchdown attempt. Also, SJSU stopped Nevada on one of its two 4th-and-1 plays.

Some other statistical highlights:
- SJSU again improved in passing yards with a 152-112 edge over Nevada in contrast with last week when the Spartans trailed the UCLA Bruins by 30 yards (115-145). SJSU averaged 4.6 yards per pass v. Nevada, 1.1 better than against UCLA. Accounting for this improvement is the return of senior quarterback Matt Faulkner who recovered from concussions after sitting out the previous game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dasmen Stewart had some playing time vs. the Wolf Pack during the 1st half.
- However, SJSU slipped in rushing with just 138 yards yesterday vs. 202 against UCLA.
- Still, San Jose State quarterbacks have yet to complete a touchdown pass.
- Two of the three lost fumbles by the Spartans led to Nevada scores. First was in the beginning of 2nd quarter, game tied, and Pompey Festejo intercepted a Nevada pass and returned it for 30 yards only to fumble it in Nevada's 43, and Nevada scored a touchdown + extra point off that recovery. Also in the 3rd quarter, Dasmen Stewart fumbled on a 1st-and-10 (no he didn't rush 70 yards contra what ESPN play by play says), and Nevada scored a field goal off the recovery and led 17-7.

BTW, the whole game is available in its entirety at WatchESPN.com. (SJSU's final drive begins at 2 hrs 57 mins in the video.)

Elsewhere in WAC football...
The ONLY Western Athletic Conference team that won on week 3 was...Fresno State! A 27-22 win over the I-AA North Dakota. Two of my six picks from Friday were correct in terms of win/loss...I was almost right about UTEP/NMSU (UTEP won by 6, I thought NMSU would win by 3), almost right about SJSU (I picked SJSU by 7...almost was really SJSU by 4), and totally wrong about Hawaii/UNLV (I picked Hawaii by 17, but it ended up really UNLV by 20). NMSU's loss to UTEP could provide some relief and confidence for the Spartans, who face the Aggies in San Jose on Saturday afternoon. NMSU was the second-worst WAC team in 2010, and in that season the Aggies beat the Spartans 29-27 on a no-time-left touchdown; SJSU did rally from a 17-3 deficit to lead 27-23 with just under 4 minutes left. If SJSU does indeed redeem itself and beef up its defense and stop throwing interceptions and committing so many penalties it might earn its first victory of 2011 against last year's undesired foe. Otherwise it'll be yet another horrendous season and possibly lead to the firing of second-year head coach Mike McIntyre.

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