San Jose State Has A QB Mystery
SAN JOSE – The situation at the San Jose State quarterback isn’t clear, but it’s well known: Spartans can compete with Nick under center.
With Nick Starkel sidelined with injury, Nick Nash got his first college start on Saturday night and led the Spartans to a 37-31 victory over New Mexico State. Starkel, the starter of the SJSU storybook season, was so firmly entrenched that Nash had spent the past two weeks working as a wide catcher. An injury – Starkel injured his left arm (non-pitcher) in the previous game at Western Michigan – changed everything.
Coach Brent Brennan adamantly refuses to provide details of the injuries. He barreled all last week and gave no clue about Starkel’s status. But he admitted that he knew from the start that Nash would be the guy on Saturday night. It wasn’t going to be either of the freshmen – Walker Eget or Natano Woods.
“We knew it was going to have to be that way probably Monday night, Monday afternoon,” said Brennan, “so we started to work out this game plan. With the youth and inexperience of our two young quarterbacks, we thought. that Nick was giving us the best chance of winning.… Even though he hadn’t played (the quarterback) in two weeks, he had been playing it for two years.
SJSU hadn’t played at home since Aug. 28, and during the three-game odyssey – from Los Angeles (USC) to Hawaii to Kalamazoo, Michigan – the Spartans have scored three touchdowns. With Nash in charge, they scored three first-half goals on Saturday night and were leading 24-14 at halftime.
Nash completed his first eight assists and finished the game 16 for 19 for 216 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, he played a game with no turnover.
“I was a little nervous, but my teammates have so much confidence in me and I feel like they are all supporting me,” said Nash. “They all got me excited before the game, making sure I was good. And I really appreciate that from them.
The next step for SJSU (3-2) is the resumption of his Mountain West title defense. The Spartans have only played one conference game, a 17-13 victory in Hawaii on September 18. From now on, it’s all in Mountain West, culminating with a Thanksgiving game in San Jose against Fresno State and quarterback Jake Haener. The Bulldogs, who were ranked 18th last week, were upset Saturday night at Hawaii 27-24.
The state of Colorado and another road game are of immediate concern. The Rams (2-2) gave then-No. 3 Iowa all he could handle in a 24-14 loss to Iowa City and will come out on a week off. Then it’s a Friday night game, Oct. 15 at home, against San Diego State, ranked 25th.
“We talked about it last night as a team,” said Brennan. “This mountain we are climbing is twice the size of the one we climbed a year ago. It’s a much bigger mountain, plus everyone’s doing their best. ”
The state of New Mexico (1-5, independent) did not make it easy either.
In the first meeting between former enemies of the WAC since 2012, the Aggies stayed within striking distance behind the heroism of quarterback Jonah Johnson, who, under constant duress, scored 30 of 44 for 300 yards with three touchdowns.
But he made a big mistake in the last minute of the first half.
On the first shot after a 35-yard field goal by Matt Mercurio, San Jose State took the lead 17-14 with 1:09 remaining until halftime, cornerback Nehemiah Shelton made a passes to the receiver for the Spartans’ first interception of the season.
“We knew they were going to try and dink-and-dunk the field,” said linebacker Kyle Harmon, a team captain with his back turned to the game while on cover. man to man. “I heard the ball being caught, then I heard the crowd going mad and then all of a sudden I turned around and saw Nehemiah running to the sidelines and getting tackled by the whole line o nearly.”
“It was a great game down the line,” Shelton said. “The line got the quarterback quickly and put me in a position to just make a play on the ball.”
A game later, tight end Derrick Deese Jr. – who had seven catches for 130 yards – had a 12-yard touchdown pass with 54 seconds left.
“That’s what Coach Brennan talked about, it’s the momentum in the game this week,” Shelton said. “I was just happy to make a play for my team and then Derrick Deese put it in the end zone.”
Brennan said: “Derrick was just great attacking the ball.”
Second-year student Malikhi Miller also had a night to remember with his very first touchdown, a 25-yard play on a hitch road early in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, SJSU running back Tyler Nevens provided balance by breaking the century mark for the first time this season – 115 yards on 22 carries between tackles, including a 3-yard touchdown to open the scoring. .
“I think when I show that kind of toughness on the grill it’s kind of contagious,” Nevens said. “I wanted to take the stress out of Nick Nash as much as possible just to get him comfortable with his own reading and stuff like that.”
His saves, De La Salle’s two offspring, also found the end zone. Shamar Garrett redeemed a lost fumble in the third quarter with a 7-yard TD on the possession that followed. Kairee Robinson caught a one-yard pass to give some breathing space with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter.
Penalties continue to be a problem for the Spartans. They have been flagged seven times for 68 yards. Flags for brutalizing the passer and passing interference came in back-to-back games during the third quarter touchdown that reduced the lead to 24-21. A horse collar penalty was included in the field goal that made it a one point game in the final two minutes.
But Brennan is ready to live with it.
“I think we played with the physique and the violence tonight,” he said. “I think it keeps popping up for our team. ”
He added: “We are a work in progress. We are truly a Silicon Valley startup.