It was a full house for the city of San Jose partnership day at CEFCU Stadium Saturday evening. 17,000+ also saw new glitzy black-on-black Spartan uniforms, which was all the rave before a dominating 34-6 performance over Western Michigan stole the show.
“I’ve got to give Hanks who did the jersey design some props,” said SJS head coach Brent Brennan. “When I came out for pre-game, I was like, ‘Woah!’ those look so cool. Our team looked fantastic.” (Johnathan Hankinson is the assistant athletic director of equipment services).
Old school rapper MC Hammer was also on hand to lend some of his throwback tunes to get the vibe and the crowd going.
San Jose State promptly borrowed Mr. Hammer’s hammer to smash Western Michigan for all four quarters.
Led by a prototypical performance by Spartan QB Chevan Cordiero and a shutdown defense, the game was well in hand for San Jose State by the start of the fourth quarter.
First half of run, run, run, no run
A stark contrast of a feeble running SJS attack in the first half and an exorbitant amount of running by the Broncos amounted to nearly nothing the first two quarters for the effort.
Though the second half was a completely different story for San Jose State’s run game, Western Michigan ran 31 times for 125 yards in the first half to test the Spartan defense and their run game plan.
But two fourth down stops by the Spartan defense demoralized WMU and zero points for the Broncos at the half.
“We treat those fourth down stops like forced turnovers,” said Brennan. “Our defense was excellent today. 206 yards of offense given up at the end of the day - you can’t have a better day than that. It was fantastic.”
The Bronco’s failed run game plan only barely bowed the Spartan defense, as WMU added just 10 more rushing yards to their final total by the end of the game.
A punishing Kairee Robinson 5-yard touchdown run and 13-yard TD toss to receiver Elijah Cooks from Cordiero highlighted the 17-0 half time lead for the Spartans.
Cordiero’s connection to receiver Justin Lockhart (116 receiving yards) also helped stretch the field the entire game.
In the second quarter, Cordiero even showed more versatility than we’ve seen before, when a twisting, acrobatic 19-yard catch by Cordiero drew some awes from the crowd.
“If I couldn’t play quarterback, I’d play receiver,” said Cordiero if he had to choose another position.
Second half of more of the Cordiero show & the Spartan defense
While Cordiero added 30 yards rushing to keep the defense off balance, his 250 yards passing and two touchdown passes (17-28) continues to show his consistency and reliability to a still growing offense (397 total yards vs. WMU).
“The offensive line played great. Everyone saw it,” said Cordiero. “They’re opening up holes, giving me time and doing what they’re supposed to do.”
“Yes, the Oline did their job. When I got the ball, most times I had big holes and I just went through it. So, shout out to the OLine today,” said Robinson who had 81 yards on 13 carries and two TD runs.
Not to be outdone...the Spartan defense did take the centerstage spotlight too.
“Once they settled in and got an idea of the flow of the game,” said Brennan on the Spartan defense. “We were locked in.”
Clearly, WMU felt it worthwhile to spend an entire half and great portion of the game trying to purely run the ball. Last year, the Broncos used the run to be among the top teams in the nation on time of possession. With an unexpected WMU QB change to a bigger running QB in Mareyohn Hrabowski, it still was to no avail.
“I found the game calling very consistent,” said DL Cade Hall on if the Spartan game plan changed after WMU’s run game plan. “Normally, there’s half time adjustments and stuff like that, but we pretty much did the same stuff all four quarters.”
In a performance trajectory that is still ramping up after a close win over Portland State and a strong showing against Auburn, the win over Western Michigan is starting to show who this San Jose State team is and can be.
“We are in a race for consistency and race for maturity,” added Brennan. “Anytime we can show an effort like that, it’s a sign we’re moving in right direction.”
San Jose State visits the 3-2 Wyoming Cowboys next week in Laramie.