UCD set to face battle-tested Spartans

By September 30, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

By the time most football teams have four games under their belts, theyÕve seen at least a couple of teams close to their talent level.

That has not been the case, however, for San Jose State, which has faced three ranked teams Ñ No. 1 Alabama, No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 14 Utah, according to The Associated Press Top 25 Ñ and Southern Utah, a Football Championship Subdivision team.

The SpartansÕ results havenÕt been consistent either, making it hard to get a gauge on what they can do going into their Homecoming game on Saturday at 5 p.m. against UC Davis at Spartan Stadium. They were blown out by Alabama and Utah by the combined score of 104-6 on the road and needed a late score to beat Southern Utah at home, but hung tough in a 27-14 loss in Wisconsin.

ÒThey may have the most difficult schedule in the country,Ó said Aggie head coach Bob Biggs. ÒThey play fast and have quite a few outstanding athletes on the field. I think more of a measure of our game against them is how they played against Southern Utah. Southern Utah has some explosive offensive players and (San Jose State) kept them out of the end zone.Ó

The San Jose State (1-3) offense is led by quarterback Jordan La Secla, who has completed nearly 68 percent of his passes (59-for-87) on the year for 573 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Redshirt freshman Chandler Jones has been La SeclaÕs favorite target, with 21 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown on the season. Jones combines with fellow redshirt freshman Noel Grigsby (13 for 168 and a TD) and senior Jalal Beauchman (12-129) to give the Spartans a potent receiving trio.

Brandon Rutley leads the team in rushing with 130 yards and a score on 36 attempts, but San Jose State will rotate in Lamon Muldrow (24 rushes, 100 yards, TD) and David Freeman (24-63) as well. And La Secla wonÕt hesitate to tuck the ball and run if necessary, as he has gained 53 yards on 12 carries in 2010.

ÒI think where theyÕre inexperienced is in their offensive line and people have been able to get pressure on them,Ó Biggs said. ÒThey throw a lot of quick passes, obviously, and thatÕs the key. If you allow (La Secla) to get into a rhythm, as consistent and accurate as he is, he can cause you some real damage.Ó

The Spartan defense is allowing 439 yards per game but gave up 105 yards below that to Southern Utah two weeks ago. San Jose State has been getting gashed on the ground (820 yards) and through the air (935) but did a solid job keeping the Thunderbird running backs down, as they gained 79 yards on 29 carries.

Hit by some injuries, the Spartans are young on the defensive side of the ball, with no senior starters and only two listed on the two-deep. TheyÕll start two sophomores and five freshmen and have 12 first- or second-year players in the two-deep.

ÒTheyÕve got a lot of good athletes, but theyÕve had some injuries too so they have some young players mixed in with some veteran players,Ó Biggs said. ÒThey play a lot of people and try to keep people fresh, and IÕm sure theyÕve had to do that given their schedule.Ó

San Jose State has an aggressive defense and has recorded six sacks and 16 tackles-for-loss on the year.

The linebacking group looks strong, led by true freshman Vince Buhagiar, who is listed as a tight end on the roster but has moved over to the other side of the ball and leads the team with 30 tackles. Tiuke Tuipulotu and Keith Smith have combined for 46 tackles, one sack and four tackles-for-loss.

Travis Johnson (19 tackles, 1.5 sacks) is dangerous at defensive end, while Peyton Thompson (22 tackles, one interception) is having a solid year at cornerback.

ÒI think their defense is designed to bring pressure and try to create turnovers and shorten up the field a bit for the offense,Ó Biggs said. ÒAt this particular time, they havenÕt shown the ability to be prolific offensively so I think their defense is pressure-oriented to give the offense more opportunities.Ó

Notes: The schedule doesnÕt get any easier for San Jose State, as after the game against the Aggies, they play at No. 25 Nevada on Oct. 9 and host No. 3 Boise State on Oct. 16. … Spartans head coach Mike MacIntyre is in his first year at the helm and is the 29th head coach in school history. MacIntyre spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Duke. HeÕs also coached in the college ranks at Mississippi, Temple, Tennessee-Martin, Davidson and Georgia, and in the NFL with Dallas and the New York Jets. … San Jose State has faced a Great West school each of the past five years. The Spartans faced Cal Poly in 2006 and 2009 and UCD in 2007 and 2008, when they needed a last-second touchdown pass to edge the Aggies 13-7.

Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at [email protected] or (530) 747-8049. Comment on this story or check out The Enterprise sports blog at www.davisenterprise.com. To view photo galleries and purchase prints of UCD football visit http://photos.davisenterprise.com

Conor Tekautz

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