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San Jose State football preview: Spartans open conference play at Wyoming

Brennan on Bohl. Bohl on Bohl.

photo by: Panayiota Good

Location: War Memorial Stadium – Laramie, WY

Date/Time: Saturday, October 1st @ 4:30 PM PDT (62°F Precipitation: 40%)

Broadcast: CBS Sports Network | KTRB 860 AM (Radio)

Head-to-head history: San Jose State (2-1, 0-0 MW) is 7-5 overall against Wyoming (3-2, 1-0 MW). Spartan head coach Brent Brennan holds a 2-1 record over the Cowboys.

The point spread action for the Spartan’s first conference game is so close it should be even, which means one thing if you’re a San Jose State believer or denier.

Yes, Wyoming is good and quite possibly and surprisingly, among the top three in the conference - to say the least. With all considering, the Cowboys have been impressive.

“Two weeks ago, they knocked down #20 Air Force. They were down big to Tulsa and clawed back in a double OT game and they played the heck out of #19 BYU last week,” said Brennan. “This is a good football team and tough as hell.”

Brennan saying that is reciprocated along the betting lines– towards the Spartans.

Such a thin spread favoring the Spartans in Laramie speaks to SJS’ potential – to say the least. Deniers and skeptics wouldn’t agree – an SJS win to them might get a shrug at best.

Whatever. It means San Jose State is legit.

Over the last three games, the Spartans have shown a trajectory. A basic game plan to squeak by Portland State. A strong showing against Auburn. A domination over Western Michigan.

“Saturday was our best showing of the season so far,” said Brennan. “At the Auburn game, it was trending that way and hopefully, we can play good defense against a very different team in Wyoming that challenges you a lot differently than anyone we’ve played so far.”

Wyoming is obviously legit too. Known as a power team over the years, expect offensive weapons like receivers Joshua Cobbs and Wyatt Wieland to show out.

The forgotten

The marquee teams of the conference typically get all the attention. It’s human nature.

San Jose State and Wyoming were not in any big conversations pre-season. These teams don’t have the brand panache like a Boise or SDSU. Surely, the Spartans or Cowboys don’t care and would rather bash their way to notoriety.

Also considering the Craig Bohl saga: losing players (yet gaining players from the portal) and making public his need to improve his relationship skills wasn’t a great look in the off-season.

But a 64-year-old, nine-year Wyoming head coach realizing the need to reinvent himself is endearing – to say the least.

“Coach Bohl is an honest, good man and one hell of a coach,” said Brennan. “Obviously, he has found and developed good players and in the world we’re living in, anything can happen with the transfer portal and NIL. It’s free agency without any salary cap or luxury tax but look at how his team has responded and how hard they’re playing and how together they are.”

Bohl is not letting the game pass him by and his 2022 team reflects his change and adaptation.

For Brennan, from day one season one, his persona and convictions were steadfast and well in place. The implementation and growth of his program just had to catch up.

For the win

Wyoming is most certainly aware of the exploits of Spartan QB Chevan Cordiero. Cordiero’s reputation precedes him nowadays as a veteran, marquee sling man.

Cordiero went berserk in Laramie last season with Hawaii throwing for over 300 yards, three touchdowns with 86 yards on the ground in a 38-14 win over the Cowboys.

And Cordiero’s options are only expanding.

“You started to see us grow a bit against Auburn with Chevan’s distribution of the football and then another step forward last week,” said Brennan on Cordiero’s distribution list getting wider and deeper. “And we’re excited how we ran the ball last week.”

“When we get ready for Wyoming, we’re used to seeing that and that’s who we practice against every day,” continued Brennan on the defense Cordiero faces every day at practice. “Wyoming is very, very physical and very stout and it’ll be a huge challenge for our offensive line and running game.”

Defensively, the Spartans are allowing the least points scored in the Mountain West and they’re still rising as well.

“Our defense is something we thought had a chance to be really good,” said Brennan. “We have high expectations of them as do themselves.”

While the top defensive names of Cade Hall, Junior Fehoko, Tre Jenkins, Kyle Harmon and Nehemiah Shelton still ring out, we’re starting to see new faces bubble up at the top of the stat charts.

Freshman linebackers Justin Eklund and Jordan Pollard were very active last week. Pollard was a top tackler with a game ending interception who also garnered MW freshman player of the week. Sophomore linebacker Bryun Parham and USC transfer DB Chase Williams were also up in the mix.

“Coach Odum and the staff have always done a fantastic job with that crew and they have for awhile now,” said Brennan. “It’s always a developmental process here.”

Brennan added, “Coach Seumalo and Coach White also do a great job of playing a lot of young guys mixed in with the older guys, so they get the experience and learn what it feels like and hopefully it accelerates their development. And they can start to understand the speed of the game and its physicality.”

As in the last couple seasons, expect the SJS defense to be durable-pliable to allow a chance for the win. And if the offense even just three-quarters shows up, it’s a Spartan win - though logic in the Mountain West has certainly been fun and unpredictable.

The journey towards the outcome

These are two similar and yet contrasting teams. Wyoming may have quickly free-agencied their way back to relevance, while San Jose State has taken the long way to create a culture and system of equally tough but empathic souls.

Expect both team to provide the best battle of the weekend.

For all the regular folks, the clash towards the outcome will be your reward – to say the least.