Utah State en­ters game on win­ning streak

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Vic­tor Aquino Cor­re­spon­dent

The odds are de­cid­edly stacked against San Jose State (1-8, 1-4 Moun­tain West) when it vis­its 14thranked Utah State (8-1, 5-0) to­day in Lo­gan, Utah.

“They’ve been on an in­cred­i­ble roll since they played Michi­gan State.” San Jose State coach Brent Bren­nan said. “This is a very ma­ture team: 22 starters with only three sopho­mores and ev­ery­body else ju­niors and se­niors. They are the most com­plete team we’ve played.”

Since its sea­son-open­ing 38-31 loss at then-No. 11 Michi­gan State, the Ag­gies

have won eight con­sec­u­tive games av­er­ag­ing 485.7 to­tal yards from a bal­anced pass and run at­tack that is pro­duc­ing 50.1 points per game, sec­ond only to Alabama’s 51.3 points.

The Ag­gies are led by sopho­more quar­ter­back Jor­dan Love of Bak­ers­field, who’s among 16 semi­fi­nal­ists for the Davey O’Brien Na­tional Quar­ter­back Award. Love’s num­bers are eye-catch­ing: 2,185 yards pass­ing and 19 touch­downs. Those are im­pres­sive to­tals, con­sid­er­ing Love has been pulled early from games.

Utah State’s run­ning game is a two-headed at­tack, with ju­niors Dar­win Thomp­son and Gerold Bright com­bin­ing for 1,336 yards and 20 touch­downs.

The Ag­gies’ 36th-ranked de­fense gives up 22.3 points per game and is sec­ond in the na­tion in forc­ing turnovers with 23.

Do the Spar­tans pos­si­bly have a chance?

The Ag­gies can score in a hurry, putting up 28 points in the first quar­ters of their past two games. It means the Spar­tans must hold pos­ses­sion as long as pos­si­ble to keep Utah State’s of­fense off the field.

“We need to get some­thing go­ing of­fen­sively early.” Bren­nan said. “Ev­ery time we do that, we’re more com­pet­i­tive.”

San Jose State’s de­fense will be tested, too.

“We have to han­dle their of­fen­sive tempo, be­cause they play fast.” Bren­nan said. “It’s some­thing we haven’t seen in the last few weeks, so it’s some­thing we have to pre­pare for.

“Against their QB, we have to dis­guise cov­er­ages, be good in zone and man pres­sure, win more one-onone bat­tles and ap­ply good pocket pres­sure.”

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