For the fourth Saturday in a row, the Spartans experienced more Fall season conditions than Spring weather, though the sun peaked out and dry skies prevailed for the game. The players likely could care less of inclement weather and the kids participating in their fun pre-game events probably could care less either. The day was going to be a success any way you cut it.
For San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan, the theme of fun and enjoyment was the same for his players on this day of community, where other high school football programs, recruits, parents, friends and alumni joined in for the annual Spring event. Another prevalent sentiment for the day... it also kicked-off Spring Break week!
For the game itself, even armchair quarterbacks or dad-coaches could glean a lot of good information. Though the pressure obviously wasn’t of a competitive game-level degree, players will almost automatically give their 100%, so you can always see their style and tendencies, and how they work through plays and schemes.
The Spring game was an offensive showing that found the end zone four times and raked in well-over 500 yards. The quarterbacks contributed 389 yards in the air and the running backs bounced out for most of their 147 yards on the ground, which also should imply the offensive line held their own.
Quarterback Terrell Carter stood out. His natural read-option style made the defense pause for that millisecond needed to precipitate the spread effect and in turn, helped the running game. In the bigger picture, Carter could more likely help sustain drives that could help keep the Spartan defense off the field that much longer. Carter also punched in a couple of short touchdown runs that looked relatively effortless.
- Between the other QBs and between all their long-pass plays was the accuracy and recognition issues that followed from last year. Slant passes just behind the receiver, hitch passes just a little late that get broken up and overthrows are some of those little things that will matter.
- Other innocuous things that don’t seem like much are bad snaps and locking in too early. Bad snaps pull the QBs eyes away for that split second to find the ball where the defense gains a step to thwart a play. Or the QB didn’t recognize a corner coming up to help stop a run, where he could have optioned or rolled out. It’s all easier to recognized after-the-fact, of course (view the gallery below for further discernment:).
Everyone oohs and ahhs for the long pass plays and there was a good share of them. QB Josh Love completed three of the five notable pass plays: a 32-yarder to Tre Walker, a 48-yarder to Josh Oliver and a 56-yarder to Leki Nunn, but his offense bogged down in between. QB Montel Aaron’s 75-yard TD pass was the true bomb of the day hitting WR Bailey Gaithers in stride. Gaithers also pulled up with what looked like a lower leg issue at the end of the play, but hopefully, it’s nothing or nothing serious.
In all, the Spartan receiving corp will have to continue their progression to offer a consistent threat from the outside, which includes limiting the drops and running disciplined routes every time.
The running mix was a dish and dash of inside and outside runs, which was similar to the running back-by-committee style from the previous season. DeJon Packer had 54 yards on 11 carries. Malike Roberson had 7 carries and 35 yards and QB Carter ran for 27 yards on 6 carries.
In general, the running back crew should be the known solid part of the offense and can only get better if the other portions of the offensive come together. We’ll have to trust that first year Spartan and veteran OC, Kevin McGiven, will find and add the balance for each part of the offensive game to perpetuate itself.
With the offensive numbers piled on the defense, it might be hard to find what’s good; given they also have a couple of key cogs missing in senior linebacker Jamaal Scott and junior defensive end Brett Foley temporarily out commission.
Linebackers Tysyn Parker and Kyle Harmon showed consistent intensity and pursuit. Parker garnered a sack, as did sophomore defensive end Sinjun Astani. Astani and Parker also got into the backfield several times to disrupt plays and get TOFLs. Second season freshman linebacker Isaiah Ossai, being undersized for his position, did well for himself as well. Also, senior defensive back Dakari Monroe and senior defensive tackle Bryson Bridges showed to be mainstays in the defense. In all, defensive coordinator, Derrick Odum, will have a lot of expectations to scheme up his defense to stop the run, first and foremost.
The kicking game was a bit of surprise considering how well they performed last year. Even without kicker Michael Carrizosa, who should get his chance in the NFL, senior Bryce Crawford missed a couple of relatively easy field goals, though he nailed a 50 yard attempt. For the game, the punt average was under 40 yards per between Crawford and Brian Papazian.
The Spartans get a reprieve from school work and formal practices with Spring Break. They return the first week of April for one more week of practice. Until then, we’re certain the work will continue “behind closed doors” until they unveil themselves again later this summer.
Spartan Spring Game day gallery for the die-hards: