After defeating the Colorado Rams and getting their second straight win, the San Jose Spartans probably entered bye week feeling a little bit better about the season than before. After losing three straight games due to offensive inconsistency and defensive incompetence, both the offense and defense saw some shuffling, resulting in two victories. On defense, Travis Raciti has stopped making every tackle for the defense and tackling across the board has improved. On offense, freshman running backs have dominated, breaking off record numbers of yards. This could be bad news for running back Tyler Ervin, who left the first game of the season with an injury and may be back for the Spartan's next game against the Wyoming Cowboys. Let's take a look at some interesting storylines that have emerged over the last two weeks.
Freshmen that are challenging presumed starters.
Jarrod Lawson, San Jose State running back and redshirt freshman, is a walk on. He has no scholarship, and because of that he can't even eat lunch at the team facility. I guess that lack of lunch is making him hungry though, hungry for YARDS (yuk yuk yuk). Jarrod Lawson had a break out game last week, getting 98 rushing yards, 108 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Tim Crawley, another freshman, has been complementing Jarrod Lawson's explosiveness with speedy runs around the edge. Even with Tyler Ervin returning next week, the Spartans might stick with their freshman to keep their power running game going. Tyler Ervin has struggled with injuries, and so may be relegated to punt and kick returns (which he's proven in the past to be effective in).
Tyler Winston is another freshman that is making a big name for himself. With the injury sidelining Noel Grigsby, the first three games showed that the Spartans needed another big time wide receiver playmaker to complement Chandler Jones. Winston has had 301 yards and 2 touchdowns over the last two games. His performance has allowed him leapfrogged the depth chart to start next to Chandler Jones. He's made some incredible catches, and with David Fales slinging the ball, Winston is en route to finish with 1000 yards.
You have David Fales, why do you need a running game?
In hindsight, it looks like the first 4 games' struggles came from the offense under head coach Ron Caragher trying to get a power running game going without having the power running backs. With Jarrod Lawson exploding up the middle and Tim Crawley running on the edge, the Spartan offense has taking impressive steps forward. Opposing defenses are keying in on this, and David Fales is making them pay. I mentioned last week that the Spartans had 3 touchdown plays of 60 yards or more. Defenses in the last two games were committing to stop the run and David Fales has started using that to his own advantage. Colorado's safeties were dropping down to deal with Lawson, Crowley and Thomas Tucker (another freshman) and David Fales threw over them to break of huge chunks of yardage. The run game helps the pass game, the pass game helps the run game. It's all connected, man.
I hope the Spartans get to a bowl game, because by then Noel Grigsby will be back.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Noel Grigsby has finally revealed that his mystery injury is in fact a torn meniscus. He played through the game against Stanford with the pain, but was then told that surgery was his only option. The good news in all of this is that he may be back in time to play one last time in college in a bowl game if the Spartans go to one. It would be great to see this guy back on the field one last time, and it wouldn't hurt his chances of getting into the NFL if he ran for 100 yards in a bowl game.