Enterprise staff writer
Games against teams in the Great West Football Conference have not been easy for San Jose State the past three years.
The Football Bowl Subdivision Spartans needed a last-second touchdown to beat UC Davis in 2008, trailed Cal Poly at halftime in 2009 and scored with just over a minute left to top Southern Utah two weeks ago. They scored less than 20 points in all three contests, and trailed in the second half of each game.
So even though the Aggies come into SaturdayÕs game at Spartan Stadium with a 1-3 record, theyÕre viewing this contest no differently than they would one against a fellow Football Championship Subdivision squad.
ÒThis should be a very competitive game and the kids know that,Ó said UCD head coach Bob Biggs. ÒWeÕre not very far away from where they are and we understand that.Ó
UCD also has a little extra motivation and believes it has some unfinished business to take care of against the Spartans.
Trying for their second win over an FBS school in four years in the 2008 opener, the Aggies led San Jose State 10-6 as they punted the ball with 1 minute, 23 seconds to play. UCD had controlled the game, outgaining the hosts 254-209 to that point and the Spartans had no timeouts remaining.
But San Jose State got the ball on its own 36, went 64 yards in seven plays and quarterback Kyle Reed hit Kevin Jurovich for the winning touchdown from 17 yards out to stun the Aggies.
ÒWe lost with 11 seconds left on a fourth down play and it was really frustrating,Ó said UCD tight end Dean Rogers. ÒWeÕve definitely been itching to play them again and IÕm excited that we are.Ó
So far this year, the Aggies have been one of the best teams in the nation at turning trips to the red zone into points, scoring on 11-of-12 drives inside the opponentÕs 20-yard line. That 92 percent conversion rate ties UCD for 12th in the FCS.
However, having only 12 trips in four games is disappointing for UCD, and itÕs the main reason the team is only 74th in the nation with 20.8 points per game. The low scoring output is due to the team converting just 14-of-49 (28.6 percent) third downs, 103rd out of 125 FCS teams. A better third-down conversion rate means prolonged drives and more trips into the red zone.
ÒWeÕve had some hiccups here and there with some turnovers but weÕre turning the offense around the way we want to,Ó Rogers said. ÒOur running game has picked up a lot and generally, weÕve had a good passing game and there are a few things we can do to improve that. If we can do that, weÕre going to be a solid team.Ó
The numbers might not be pretty for the San Jose State defense Ñ itÕs allowed 35.5 points and 438.8 yards per game Ñ but with games at No. 1 Alabama, No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 13 Utah under its belt, thatÕs not surprising.
The offensive numbers for the Spartans are just as ugly, but even with the tough competition, quarterback Jordan La Secla is completing 67.8 percent of his passes out of a pistol offense. Biggs said the team likes to run a lot of short routes, which has led to the high percentage.
ÒWeÕre going to have to play much like we did against Weber defensively, and thatÕs rally to the ball and keep things underneath,Ó Biggs said. ÒTheyÕre a pistol offense so it doesnÕt lend itself much to play action and throwing the ball deep. It lends itself more to (bootlegs) and running the ball and screens.Ó
Game time at Spartan Stadium is 5 p.m.
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