The most intriguing storyline for the San Jose State v San Diego State game on Friday night was the Spartans’ temporary assault as opposed to SDSU’s running game.
So much for that.
San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel was kicked out of the game in game four of scrimmage, and SDSU’s talented backcourt remained neutral throughout the game.
Instead, backup quarterback Nick Nash triggered the Spartans with two touchdown passes and a TD run, and SDSU made three sales – one more expensive than that – in San Jose’s 28:17 win over the Aztecs at Carson’s Dignity Health Sports other park.
“It just says a lot about this football team and how resilient they are,” said Brent Brennan, head coach for the state of San Jose, in a post-game television interview. “This is a big win for us. Three years ago that game against San Diego State was over at halftime. It’s an amazing deal for our guys. …
“And Nick Nash. How about that So happy for him. Just come in, we held onto there and did plays. “
San Jose State are now 3-0 for the first time since 1982. The loss ended a seven-game loss to SDSU that fell to 2-1.
“Of course we are very disappointed as a football team,” said SDSU head coach Brady Hoke. “I thought we had a good week of preparation. We thought we were ready to play and we came out giving some credit to the state of San Jose, but we didn’t play our best football. “
San Jose State took a 21-17 lead on a 3-yard run four minutes into the fourth quarter by running back on Tyler Nevens. It came two games after the Spartans recovered a back pass from SDSU quarterback Carson Baker, who was rated fiddly at the 17-yard line by SDSU.
Baker was put under pressure on the piece by San Jenkins State Safety Tre Jenkins, which made it big again when SDSU threatened on its next drive. Jenkins intercepted a Baker pass in the end zone to prevent the Aztecs from regaining the lead.
SDSU was about to get another chance with the ball when returnees Jordan Byrd missed a punt return and the state of San Jose recovered deep in SDSU territory. Nash topped that off with a 14-yard touchdown run to postpone the game.
The state of San Jose limited SDSU to just 56 meters in the first half. That was 23 transfers, which means that an Aztec running game that averaged 7 yards per transfer over the first two games in the first two game periods against the Spartans was only 2.4 yards.
Although it wears down many opponents in the second half, SDSU was unable to do so with the Spartans. The Aztecs finished the game with 101 rushing yards (minus 29 yards on three sacks) to 45 carry (2.2 ypc). Greg Bell led the team with 25 runs for 109 yards, his third straight run of 100 yards.
A 34-yard field goal from Matt Araiza in the first quarter and a 1-yard touchdown from Baker in the second quarter gave the Aztecs the points in the first half. They added a 5-yard touchdown from Bell, which lasted just 30 seconds in the fourth quarter before it all dissolved.
SDSU controlled the first half for the third game in a row. For the second week in a row, however, the Aztecs only managed a 10-7 lead at halftime despite their predominance.
A second half with 28 points in the US state of Utah last week overshadowed these deficiencies in the first half.
Could SDSU do something similar against the Spartans?
Hoke probably had a few words for his players at halftime, just like he did in Logan, Utah.
What left the coach shaking his head this week was the SDSU defense limited the Spartans to a total of 50 yards in their first five possessions of the game. Then it allowed the state of San Jose to undertake a 94-yard drive, culminating with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Nash.
The SDSU defense expected the biggest challenge of the season against Starkel.
The Arkansas graduate transfer threw 467 yards and five touchdowns in their win over New Mexico last week.
However, Starkel didn’t finish the first drive before departing with a possible concussion after being attacked by Cameron Thomas, a defensive SDSU attacker.
Thomas grabbed Starkel by the waist while the quarterback let go of a pass that was incomplete between two receivers.
Starkel landed on his back when he was attacked. The force made his head snap back and hit the lawn.
He remained on his back for a few minutes and was looked after by coaches before slowly walking off the field and going to the locker room for further examination.
Starkel went back to the Spartans’ sidelines at the beginning of the second quarter. He wore a ball cap, hoodie, and shorts that were obviously made for the night.
Brennan does not provide updates for in-game injuries, so no details have been provided.
The second Nash replaced Starkel and faced a defense that suddenly had an advantage.
Nash is listed as a double threat quarterback, but he has only attempted 17 passes last season.
The Aztecs knew they could put their ears back and follow him, and partly explained why the state of San Jose had pushed away its first five possessions. But Nash proved elusive at times.
“Obviously he made some pieces longer,” said Hoke. “We knew what to expect. We just didn’t play. “
The Spartans finally put something together on their sixth drive, mixing the barrel and pass before Derrick Deese Jr. scored a one-handed 10-yard catch for a first-and-goal at the SDSU 10-yard line.
Two games later, San Jose State faced a third hit from the 4-yard line when Nash again went to Deese in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown.
That had to boost Nash’s confidence in the second half. He must have played that way. He finished the game 16-on-25 and went for 169 yards with the two TDs and an interception on a pass picked up by SDSU security Tariq Thompson.
Neither offense seemed too productive too soon.
SDSU’s offense started the game on its own 2-yard line after a playoff in San Jose state.
When the offense could not get things going, the new SDSU punter Tanner Kuljian came out and caused a spark.
Kuljian stood in the back of his own end zone and started a 70-yard punt.
That turned the field for the Aztecs, who stopped the Spartans’ offensive and got the ball back near midfield.
A second SDSU drive stalled, but this time the Aztecs were close enough to lead Araiza’s field goal to 3-0.
The Kick extended Araiza’s streak of field goals to 16 games in a row – every game he played – over two seasons.
The success of the running game had allowed Baker to take on his role as SDSU’s starting quarterback this season.
Against the Spartans, Baker looked as comfortable as he had all season. At least for three quarters.
His throws were highlighted by a 51-yard completion from broad receiver Jesse Matthews that resulted in Araiza’s field goal.
Baker was 9-for-13, passing 110 yards in the first half. He finished the game 21-for-30 and passed for 261 yards.
Time and again, Baker found Matthews for big wins. Christian High’s second child finished the game with six receptions for a play height of 139 meters. It was one of the highlights of a game without her.