San Jose state sits on the edge of a dangerous cliff in the Highlands West as it welcomes the 24th-ranked San Diego state to CEFCU Stadium on Friday night.
The Spartans are underdogs with 9.5 points at home against the undefeated Aztecs looking to topple the reigning conference champion.
While head coach Brent Brennan hasn’t named a single starter, SJSU reserve defender Nick Nash looks set to make his third career start in place of injured Nick Starkel, and last week’s 32-14 defeat in Colorado did not inspire much confidence.
He has recorded a nine-game winning streak at Mountain West – and while it’s not time to press the panic button yet, San Jose (3-3, 1-1 Mountain West) may face contract losses for the first time. this season.
“All we know is we have a game on Friday night,” SJSU midfielder Kyle Harmon said after Saturday’s setback. “We have to get rid of it and go back to the cinema, train hard and do what we do in defense. It’s always one week, and I don’t think we feel like our backs are against the wall. I think we just need to slow down, how to gather strength and just get out of there. ”
Here are some keys to winning the 85th match against San Diego State (5-0, 1-0):
While the Spartans have so far fought away, averaging 10.25 points per game, the attack has found the home zone at least five times in both games at home.
Two weeks ago, Nash was almost flawless in a no-fluidity game at CEFCU Stadium, but he intercepted the first outing in Colorado and lost too.
Fans filled the stands of San Jose with over 15,000 people in both home games, and a return home could provide another great atmosphere for the players to rally.
“We have to prepare for a great football team here at CEFCU Stadium,” said San Jose State Coach Brent Brennan. “And whatever is going on around us, whether it is a homecoming or a short week, these are just things that we have to deal with and not let them distract us. Just make sure our goal and our efforts are in the right direction. ”
Battle in the trenches
San Diego State conceded just 44 yards in triple overtime with a 33-31 win over Utah, one of two Pac-12 opponents the Aztecs beat.
Their season pass record (183 yards) came in a 38-14 rout in Arizona.
It’s pretty clear that San Diego is aiming for ground play, with a 6-foot 200-pound running backwards Greg Bell as its bell tower. A week ago, he posted a season record of 161 yards, and Brennan named him an NFL-level quarterback.
“When I’m here, they always had good defenders, they always had a great game, they always had a great tight end, they always had a good defender,” Brennan said. “They have always been effective offensively. It’s their personality, so you definitely need to prepare to play on a very physical team. ”
Brennan especially praised the experience and size of the Aztec offensive line.
Scrum line adjustments
For a couple of weeks, Brennan emphasized the difficulty of playing against San Diego’s special defense scheme.
The Aztecs look different from the Spartans they are accustomed to week after week, and with one less day to prepare, the task has become even more difficult.
Anyone who lines up under the center of San Jose must understand that protection constantly strikes him in the eye.
“It’s just a ton of traffic,” Brennan said. “They play with extra defensive defenses, but they can blitz and push you, they can grip you, they can play in the zone, they can get into heavy boxing and defend the run, they can throw a bunch of people and play a big story. Most people do it in a more traditional way. ”
San Diego state has yet to allow any team to score more than 24 points in the rules, and it would have dropped out of the conference opener last week if it hadn’t been for an unsuccessful touchdown response to New Mexico, who lost 31-7.
Nash stepped off the bench last year at San Diego State to instigate a second-half comeback after Starkel was injured in the first quarter.
The element of surprise from QB with a double threat certainly played a role in the 28-17 win, which Nash secured with a 14-yard scramble at the end of the fourth quarter.
“There is a unique combination in there that can get him out of trouble,” Brennan said.
“And these guys are so good at defense, they are so aggressive, and they come after you, so his ability to prolong the game or prolong attacks will be really important.”
Except that now the Aztecs have material that needs to be analyzed not only a year ago, but also in the previous two weeks.
Although Brennan is not sure how much this will affect the tactics of the state of San Diego.
“They just lost the light in defense, so it doesn’t matter to them,” Brennan said. “I think they will do what they do, because until now they were kind of chasing everyone.”