The Bobcat football team is fresh off a bye week and are getting closer to making their trip to Spartan Stadium Saturday to face San Jose State University.
The Spartans will give the Bobcats a test in every phase of the game: offense, defense and special teams. All have been influential thus far in 2012 in San Jose State’s games. San Jose State is sitting at 5-2 overall with a 1-1 WAC record, beating UTSA most recently, 52-24, and losing 49-27 to Utah State.
San Jose State’s offense averages 33 points a game and uses a variety of different formations to give opposing defense a lot to consider. Spartan quarterback David Fales has the second highest completion rate in the nation with 74 percent and ranks 10th in efficiency. Fales has only thrown three interceptions in seven outings.
Although the Spartans are equipped with one of the top passers in the country, they will not spread the defense out all game long with wide formations. The Spartans pass out of “I” formations with heavy tight end and running back sets. Although their numbers resemble those of pass-heavy teams like Texas Tech University, University of Houston and Stephen F. Austin University, the Spartans’ scheme is diverse.
“(San Jose State) is definitely extremely talented,” said senior cornerback Darryl Morris. “They have great receivers across the board and a quarterback who can really sling it around, as well as really talented running backs. We can’t take this offense lightly because they can put up as many points as (Texas) Tech or a team like that.”
San Jose State receiver Noel Grigsby is the Spartans’ career leader in pass receptions (188) and has totaled 2,398 yards in his three years with the program. He is among the nation’s leaders in several categories, including receiving yards (690), good enough for the 15th spot in the nation.
The next three receptions leaders all have over 300 yards. In 2012, there have been two games where nine different receivers made receptions in a game. Three of the pass catchers have over 1,000 yards receiving in their Spartan careers: Grigsby, tight end Ryan Otten and wide out Chandler Jones.
“(The defensive backs) are going to be challenged,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “This is a different style of attack. They do some four-wide stuff. They are pretty multiple on offense. It’s not quite like a Texas Tech or SFA passing attack, but it is really good.”
De’Leon Eskridge is the leading rusher for the Spartans with 478 yards on 102 carries and four touchdowns. The San Jose State offensive line is full of upper classmen, with one senior and four juniors.
On defense, the Spartans rank 42nd in points, allowing 22 per game. They are sixth nationally with 24 sacks. Defensive end Travis Johnson is among the leaders in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (14.5). Johnson has 27.5 sacks on his career, to go along with 42 tackles for loss over his four years.
“They are a pretty good defense, but our run game was pretty solid last game,” said senior quarterback Shaun Rutherford. “We’ve been pressing on that a lot this week to keep going and moving forward with that. Hopefully we can take that to our advantage.”
One of the Spartans’ leading tacklers plays in the secondary, safety Cullen Newsome. Newsome has 41 tackles on the season along with two pass breakups and three fumble recoveries.
Cornerback Bené Benwikere has two interceptions in 2012 and 32 tackles.
San Jose State’s special teams unit is led by its return man Tyler Ervin, who has two touchdowns on the season. Only five FBS programs have more than one return touchdown stemming from its team. Austin Lopez has hit on all of his 12 attempts and is currently the most accurate kicker in the country.
Kickoff is early for the Bobcats at 1 p.m. pacific time, 3 p.m. in San Marcos. Texas State will be going for a second conference win and with a victory would be 2-0 in its first season in the WAC.