Spartan Daily Sports Editor Darby Brown-Kuhn answers our questions and helps break down the in-state rival Spartans.
The Collegian: What is the Spartans’ identity this season?
Brown-Kuhn: Our identity offensively is relying on our running game once we’re in the red zone. So far, Tyler Ervin has been the workhorse of our offense as evidenced by his seven touchdowns, six rushing, up to this point. Defensively, our pass defense is still top notch but our defensive line still struggles against the run, so opponents have beat us mainly by running the ball as opposed to passing.
San Jose State has shuffled quarterbacks for the early part of the season. What can we expect from that position group entering this game?
Expect more quarterback shuffling, because that seems to be head coach Ron Caragher’s game plan to find a starter going forward. Kenny Potter might have a limit on snaps since he suffered an ankle sprain last week. If Potter is limited physically, you will see plenty of Joe Gray and Malik Watson.
How has the multiple-quarterback system fared for the Spartans this season?
The multiple-quarterback system has been a mixed bag up to this point. Both Gray and Potter looked great against New Hampshire, but there was a noticeable drop in quarterback play in the last two games. As of now, Potter is the most likely to start since Gray has had problems reading defenses.
What can we expect from senior running back Tyler Ervin?
As mentioned previously, Ervin is the horse of our offense. He has been the go-to guy in the red zone and is dangerous as a receiver and runner and has been the main kick returner. Undoubtedly, he’s our most dangerous offensive weapon.
What is the Spartans’ strongest position group?
I would say our strongest position is at the cornerback position because there’s more depth at that position than running back. Sure, the combined statistics for RB are more gaudy, but if you took away Ervin’s numbers from the group, the numbers wouldn’t be nearly as impressive. Jimmy Pruitt and Cleveland Wallace III both have interceptions this year, and Andre Chachere leads the group in tackles with eight and is the only corner on the roster with a quarterback hit up to this point.
What is the Spartans’ weakest position group?
Our weakest position is on the defensive line. We have multiple players who are undersized for line play, and that’s one of the main reasons why our run defense has been an issue this season.
What type of coach is Ron Caragher?
Caragher is a coach who likes to mix things up at the quarterback position early in the season in order to get the best team on the field later in the season. There are drawbacks to implementing a rotation at quarterback, but in time Caragher will have an established starter going forward. Long story short, Caragher wants to win. He just wants to see what he has so he can put his team in the best position to win.
Both teams are 1-2 after the first three games of the season. What is the team’s mindset entering Saturday’s matchup?
Our goal for this week is to get to .500 before we take on Auburn next week.
Do the Spartans consider the Bulldogs to be their No. 1 rival? If so, why?
The Bulldogs are certainly our biggest conference rival, which stems from the battles both teams had in the 1980s and early ‘90s which often determined the Mountain West Conference champion. Recently, the Bulldogs have been the superior team, so the rivalry is not what it used to be. But the Spartans are doing what they can to make the rivalry more intense.
Spartans 20, Bulldogs 13. I’m sensing the Spartans will be able to capitalize on home-field advantage. Plus, the Bulldogs likely will have a lot on their mind after the arrest of quarterback Zack Greenlee caused some unneeded drama, so that could affect them negatively on Saturday. (Just so you don’t feel bad about Greenlee, we had some issues with some of our recruits earlier this summer. One of them got arrested for domestic battery, on campus no less, so I feel your pain.)