Date/Time: Saturday, October 14, 2023 - 3 PM PDT
Location: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Broadcast: Mountain West Network
Radio: 860 KTRB AM
Head-to-Head: San Jose State (1-5, 0-2 MW) is 14-5-1 vs. New Mexico (2-3, 0-1 MW) with the last two wins over the Lobos in 2019 and 2020 under Spartan head coach Brent Brennan.
Despite the gut-busting 35-27 loss to Boise State last week where San Jose State looked very much capable, the 1-5 Spartans look to course-correct themselves Saturday in Albuquerque against the Lobos.
We can first look at SJS’ 129th (of 130) ranked rush defense in the nation. The Spartans give up an average of 223.7 rush yards per game. The Lobos rush game average - 180.4 yards per game (41st nationally).
Teams will run and run some more until the Spartan run defense shows up. There’s not enough scheming to cover up this deficiency.
So where does it start?
Leading tackler and junior linebacker Bryun Parham cuts to the chase. Parham is also second in the Mountain West with 52 tackles to date (37th in the nation).
“We just got to tackle, cover and get off blocks.” said Parham after the Boise State loss.
That especially goes for the defensive line to get off blocks and penetrate, as the first level against the run.
On pass defense, SJS is 18th best in the nation. But like everything else in life, it takes the whole pie to be complete.
QB Chevan Cordeiro continues to give the Spartans the best chance to win. In the dreaded and proverbial tale of two halves, San Jose State initially shows up fantastically well.
The play-calling. The pace. The energy. The scoring. It’s all there thanks to Cordeiro and company leading the way under OC Kevin McGiven in his sixth season.
But what happens next to the Spartans also shows Cordeiro’s supposed issues: uncharacteristic interceptions, questionable decision-making and the inability to lead the team to points in the second-half.
In the last three games, the Spartans have only mustered seven points compared to 56 points in the second half by the opposition.
At the same time, Cordeiro would certainly not have a problem shouldering all the blame, as the stoic confident Cordeiro doesn’t waver.
What’s really happening is San Jose State morphs into becoming one-dimensional on offense. Basically, the Spartan offense gets stiff and Cordeiro is just easiest to blame at the helm.
SJS’ second halves start to look like a basketball game with players watching and expecting their star player to do all the heavy lifting to clear the way.
Cordeiro also looks to press himself to make plays all-the-while making it easier for the opposition to lock in after adjustments they make to keep the Spartans at bay.
Brennan and team have often spoke on the momentum swings that become unstoppable even when you see it coming. One of the clear times to counter it is if/when the Spartans can grab a crucial first down. Historically, the Spartans haven’t been very good at this aspect.
Overall, perhaps the mentality should be to ignore the score, as big leads seem to pacify. By the time one realizes the need to restart and refocus, it’s too late - you’re forcing things.
Though San Jose State State is favored by a touchdown and seemingly hardened by a more challenging schedule than the Lobos, nothing is guaranteed in what is supposed to be a win on Saturday.
The Lobos won’t be a pushover unless the Spartans can play a cohesive four quarters. If in that case, San Jose State can win by double digits going away.