On the most perfect Saturday afternoon, in the sixth San Jose State spring scrimmage event for head coach Brent Brennan, was something different.
More people. More fanfare. More “there’s something in the air.” And, no Lawrence Fan; the beloved stalwart of sports information who passed away six weeks ago.
Addressing the first two is easy. Friends, family, former players and would-be players were itching for football and dying to be among an upbeat program and what is expected to be SJSU’s most formidable team of the Brennan era so far.
10 head coaches as one
In the coaches’ conference prior to the scrimmage, each provided summaries and expectations. Their different styles and personalities ranged the gamut, but each had a command of their own that looked to compliment the whole.
As spring is one of the few times to casually see all 10 coaches altogether and available in a one gathering, it’s easier to assess and crosscheck what us regular folks are seeing and feeling at practices.
And it all lines up, so far.
Those problem spots from a disappointing 2021
After becoming 2020 Mountain West Champions, the following 5-7 season was considered a disappointment: clear and simple. Wide receiver production and run production faltered.
“We knew we wanted and needed to get bigger at receiver,” said wide receiver coach Eric Scott. “6’4” Elijah Cooks and 6’2” Justin Lockhart fit that bill along with 6’ Charles Ross and 6’4” Maliki Miller.”
Cooks, Lockhart and Ross are former star Nevada WolfPackers turned Spartans via the influence of Scott. Each of his proteges shined on Saturday.
Tight-end coach Matt Adkins went on to tout Sam Olsen, who was injured last year, and the rest of the tight-ends. Adkins fully expects his group to be an integral part of the passing attack and obviously, the blocking schemes. Other watchful eyes also concur Olsen could be one of the top conference tight-ends.
“We’ll be fine at running back,” said an animated running back coach Alonzo Carter, “We have a 10.7 100-meter Camden McWright. NorCal player of the year JuJu Teu. And Kenyon Sims and Shamar “Scootie” Garrett are quick and dynamic.”
An even more bulked-up Kairee Robinson leads the group of backs for Carter.
“I will dance all night when we win the Mountain West conference,” added Carter, “And we will win the Mountain West. Hold me to that.”
What stuck out the most this spring
Newly minted Spartan Chevan Cordeiro would probably be most people’s choice, but on paper, in person and in action, the SJS defensive front seven look to be even more outstanding.
Relatively speaking and scanning the conference early on, this has to be one of the best if not the best D-line groups in the Mountain West.
“I hate our defensive front seven,” said OC Kevin McGiven. “They make it an absolute nightmare to practice against every day, but really, it’s been fun to watch them develop and it’s pretty cool.”
McGiven is usually calm, cool and collected, but his windfall at the quarterback position seems to make him giddy. This stable of QBs is likely to set San Jose State apart for the next few years.
“The group of quarterbacks this year are probably the most exciting group I’ve been around my entire career,” said McGiven.
“Chevan has learned and applied the system faster than any other quarterback I’ve ever had,” added McGiven. “He was able to take it from day one and apply all the concepts, especially from growing up in the run and shoot, and you can see he can really run.”
Chevan truly looks crisp, clean, quick and decisive, as advertised and as he’s proven the last two years with the Rainbow Warriors.
McGiven was quick to add that top-rated QB Tyler Voss and Anthony Garcia are very impressive as well.
Oh, there was a scrimmage
Cordeiro threw two touchdowns to Lockhart, a 40-yarder and 11-yarder. Their chemistry and connection jumped out in the first series right off.
Not-to-be-forgotten QB Nick Nash slung a 40+ yarder to Ross that was just short of touchdown. CB Kenyon Reed also intercepted Nash in the end zone.
In all, the performance was livelier and peppier than in recent years and also more casual at the same time.
The competition is thick and the depth formidable enough to say if the Spartans aren’t well in the mix at the end of the season, there’s something wrong.
One Brennan Cordeiro moment
When Cordeiro made the decision to transfer to San Jose State, there were more surprises than not that he chose the Spartans.
“We’ve always aimed to be a program that provides stability and consistency,” said Brennan at the coaches’ conference. “The young men that come to this program; we support academically and provide all the support of a true brotherhood.”
Brennan added, “We went to Great America on his visit here with his family, my son Scottie and two of our coaches. We’re having this awesome weekend, but here’s the problem: Chevan was going to Colorado State the next morning and Chevan’s mom wants to take a picture of everyone in the front and while we’re standing there cheesing, Chevan says to me, ‘I’m coming here, coach.’”
“Though I’m here alone, the guys make it feel comfortable like home,” said Cordeiro on his overall transition to San Jose.
Cordeiro also broke his normally stoic media delivery and let out a smile and a look up towards the sky when it was mentioned Brennan has the Aloha spirit and lives Aloha, which is likely why Cordeiro’s decision wasn’t so surprising to the few.
Stay tuned for more off-season tidbits in the anticipation of the 2022 season.