Spring Wrap: San Jose State Spartans
By Ken Pomponio
While the majority of Mountain West Conference squads still are thigh-pad deep in spring drills, four programs have already wrapped up their allotted 15 practices.
Here’s a glance at how the spring went for Mountain West newcomer San Jose State, which is making the jump this summer after a successful, 11-2 final campaign in the Western Athletic Conference:
- The Spartans have a new coach in former San Diego field boss Ron Caragher, and with a new coach comes new schemes. For the SJSU defense, that means a switch from the 4-3 to a 3-4, and if the final two intrasquad clashes of the spring were any indication, the transition is proceeding swimmingly with the D forcing 11 three-and-out possessions and recording four sacks in the penultimate scrimmage. The defense followed with four takeaways and five sacks in a first team vs. first team matchup with quarterback David Fales and the SJSU offense in the spring game.
- Fales, who led the nation with a 72.5-percent completion percentage in 2012, is taking fewer snaps in the pistol and more under center. There were some bumps in the road with the defense appearing to have the upper hand at times, but Fales finished strong with a 47-yard TD toss on his final pass of the spring game and will be better for the challenge come the fall.
- As the 14-carry, 39-yard, one-fumble stat line from the Spartans’ leading spring-game rusher, Alvin Jenks, indicates, the SJSU ground game remains a work in progress after finishing 109th in the nation with 113.5 yards per contest.
- This will be more evident when the players on the other side of the line are wearing different colors this fall, but the Spartans still are learning how to deal with their newfound success (school record-tying 11 wins and first national ranking since 1975 in 2012) and heightened expectations after finishing only 1-12 as recently as 2010.
- Fales was 19-of-31 for 179 yards, an interception and two scores.
- Senior-to-be Bene Benwikere, a first-team All-WAC cornerback, picked up right where he left off with an interception and a sack in the spring game a week after returning a fumble 73 yards for a score in a scrimmage.
- Redshirt freshman linebacker Christian Tago impressed all spring in a bid to start in the middle.
August brings fall camp and also the Spartans’ season opener, Aug. 29 versus Sacramento State of the FCS Big Sky Conference.