There are few worse ways to start off a season than an injury to one of your starters. Last week the San Jose Spartan starting running back Tyler Ervin suffered a non-disclosed injury on his second carry of the game. He did not return and was seen after the game on crutches with one of his legs in a boot. Fifth year senior Jason Simpson was next in the depth chart and boy did he step up!
Simpson rushed for more yards against the Sacramento State Hornets then he had over his previous four years at San Jose. I can only imagine how it must feel to have a game like that after spending so much time on the sidelines. In an article by Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News, Simpson was quoted as saying after the game "I've been preparing for moments like this for four years. It's just always being ready. When you're time comes, you just got to go out there and play."
The run game last week was very vanilla, with most runs being up the gut for 3-4 yards with little to no runs to the outside. He averaged only 3.9 yards in the first half, but in the second half he bumped up his production with a nice 55 yard run for a touchdown. That touchdown, by the way, also doubles his career total for touchdowns. Did I mention this guy hasn't played much in games? He finished the game with 135 rushing yards and the above mentioned touchdown.
It's really hard to say what Jason Simpson's upper limit is. We know that his lower limit is warming the bench, but we don't know what his upper limit is after handing him the ball. With almost all of his runs being up the gut, it is impossible to say what he'll do on pitch outs, runs to the edges or any sort of trickeration plays. When he actually found a hole to start that 55 yard run, he displayed a good burst of speed and some nice cuts to avoid the tackle.
It doesn't sound like Tyler Ervin is going to be back for the Stanford game, though it's hard to say for certain because head coach Ron Caragher doesn't believe in labeling injuries. Simpson might be getting the majority of carries in this next game and I feel bad that his first game as a starter is going to be against one of the best front 7 in FBS football.
San Jose has struggled in the past years in the short yardage running game. If not flashy in most of his runs, Simpson managed to eke out positive yardage on almost all of his plays. Even when Ervin returns, Simpson might still get a lot of carries in short yardage situations. If he does well against Stanford... Who knows, maybe he makes a permanent move upwards on the depth chart.