Posted: 11:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013
By Michael Gooding
When: Saturday, Oct. 5th at 6 p.m. Hawaii time.
Where: Aloha Stadium, Halawa (Honolulu), Hawaii
TV: Oceanic Pay-Per-View
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM (Hawaii); KLIV 1590 AM (San José)
San Jose State 2013 record: 1-3-0, 0-1 in MWC
Hawaii 2013 record: 0-4-0, 0-2 in MWC
All Time Series Record: Tied 17-17-1
Last Meeting: Oct. 14th 2011 in San Jose. Spartans won 28-27
San Jose State - Ron Caragher (1-3). This is Caragher's first year as head coach at the Spartans. Its his seventh season as a college head coach.
Hawaii - Norm Chow (3-13). Chow is in his second year as the head coach of the Rainbow Warriors.
After a spirited comeback in Honolulu against Fresno State last week Hawaii are home again this time to face conference newcomers San Jose State. The Spartans are coming off a defeat at home to Utah State which seen them go down 40-12. Fingers crossed for a great game again this week for both schools.
The position of quarterback continues to be uncertain at Hawaii. Last week Taylor Graham failed to recover in time from a shoulder injury and Ikaika Woolsey was handed the start. Woolsey failed to have an impact on the game and was replaced in the second half by last years starter Sean Schroeder who almost brought the Warriors back from a 42-3 deficit. He threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns and fell just short of a game winning TD after being intercepted in the red zone on the final drive of the game. Chow was non committal to any of his quarterbacks this week instead insisting that they will all get time with the first team. Graham was cleared to practise Wednesday but its still a mystery as to who will get the start on Saturday. Schroeder has more than earned his right to get a chance at starting and this could be the way Chow goes for this one. Hawaii's offensive line has given up 20 sacks (20!) through four games, including a massive seven against Fresno. Hawaii did have more passing yards than Derek Carr in total though.
David Fales managed to throw for 314 yards last week against Utah State but managed no TDs with two interceptions. However in the other 3 games this year Fales has managed a total of 6 TDs and so will remain dangerous. In the last two games the Spartans are averaging 461.5 yards of total offense. San Jose is one of only two teams to gain at least 400 yards of total offense against Utah State this season. Its worth noting that so far this year six of the eight touchdown drives the Spartans have managed have took less than two minutes. Blake Jurich came in late last week and also threw an interception. The offensive line has given up six sacks this year but only once last week and none the week before vs Minneosta. Nicholas Kaspar has been at right guard the last two games after opening the season at center.
The Spartans rushing attack is spearheaded by fifth year senior Jason Simpson who has 255 yards on the ground through the first five weeks. Good enough for ninth best in the mountain west. He has a 4.4 yards per carry average on 58 carries this year compared to 2.9 on 31 attempts in his first three seasons with San José State. He had 48 yards and a TD last week. Simpsons primary back up will be a case of running back by committee with Shane Smith, Osirius Burke, Jarrod Lawson and Alvin Jelks just some of the names that may have carries. Tyler Ervin has missed the last three games due to injury.
The man who was meant to lead this years group of running backs for Hawaii was Joey Iosefa. After making his season debut against Nevada, Iosefa got injured and will now miss the next four weeks after having surgery on his foot. Diocemy Saint Juste was great in that Nevada game but seen his number of carries cut last week, managing just one yard from seven attempts. The cut in his carries is probably due to the 12 rushes Woolsey had at quarterback. Steven Lakalaka was the top rusher with 66 yards at an average of 5.1 per carry and two TDs against Fresno. Hes also caught a pass in every game this year and is named ahead of Saint-Juste for this game. There were no fumbles for any player on the Hawaii offense.
Senior receiver Chris Gant had a breakout game for the Warriors last week. He caught four passes for a career high 133 yards. Scott Harding leads the team with 16 catches including five in each of the last three games. He's also the punt returner and sometimes even punts himself. Billy Ray Stutzmann played in his first game this year in week five and managed to grab a TD for himself. Hawaii has a number of players making contributions in the passing game, Vasquez Haynes and Keith Kirkwood had TDs against the Bulldogs. Tight end Harold Moleni should be back this week to start after missing a game following a concussion. Craig Cofer will move back to the position too after Jordan Pu'u Robinson was injured and will miss at least two games.
Chandler Jones is the biggest receiving weapon the Spartans possess. Last time out he had seven receptions for 115 yards. He has 485 yards in total and four TDs. He was also added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list. The award honors the best pass receiver. Noel Grigsby has had injury problems and is not named on the depth chart for this. Kyle Nunn set a career high of five receptions for 85 yards vs Utah State. He has progressed well after not having a reception in the opener against Sacramento State. Jabari Carr has 21 receptions in the last three games and is second on the team with 23 total receptions. He did suffer a shoulder injury in the last contest. Tyler Winston, Daniel Bradbury and Hansell Wilson all had their first reception of the season last week. Tight end Billy Freeman has at least one reception in every game and earned an honorable mention for tight end of the week a fortnight ago.
Its not all doom and gloom for Hawaii and their defense this year. The unit as a whole is tied 12th nationally with 32 tackles for a loss and 33rd nationally with nine sacks. Brenden Daley has 6.5 tackles for a loss, which ranks 11th nationally. Giving up 530 yards of offense against Fresno is never a good stat, but when it counted the defense produced two interceptions and two fumbles. Art Laurel was one of those with an interception last week and he leads the team with 27 total tackles. There are no new injury concerns for the Warriors in the front seven after losing linebacker Julain Gener after the Nevada game. Daley and Laurel both lead the defense with two sacks each. Siasau Matagiese seems to be going from strength to strength, registering another five tackles in the latest outing.
The Spartans linebacker Keith Smith is the leading tackler in the nation averaging 17.8 tackles per game. An absolute monster work-rate. He has 18 games in his career where he has made at least ten tackles. Playing on the opposite side to Smith is Isaiah Irving, a freshman who had seven tackles last week. He has been the starter for the past two weeks. Upfront, nose tackle junior Travis Raciti has had back to back games of career high tackle numbers. He has two sacks this year, both coming against Utah State. Outside linebacker Eugene Taylor leads the defense with three sacks which is good for fifth in the mountain west.
Chuckie Keeton managed to throw for 260 yards and 3 TDs against the San Jose secondary last week. Bené Benwikere and Damon Ogburn are the starting corners. Benwikere has an interception, six pass break ups and a QB hurry this season. However he did suffer a concussion against Utah State but should be good to go after all tests came back negative. Ogburn has also played at safety this year but he is named on the depth chart as a corner for this one. The group have only given up four TDs in four games and whoever starts at quarterback for Hawaii will need to be accurate.
Derek Carr threw for 324 yards on the Hawaii secondary but Ne'Quan Phillips did steal an interception. As was the case with Carr last week there should be plenty of chances for play makers to step up on the back end and contribute to the defense as a whole. John Hardy-Tuliau has played all over the field this year, safety, outside corner and in the nickel. The ability to move players around can only serve as a good thing if everyone is clear in their assignments and doesn't give up any big plays due to busted coverage or poor tackling. Charles Clay, whilst not named as a starter is the leading tackler in the secondary for Hawaii.
At the start of the season I managed to call the first two games right with Hawaii losing but keeping close enough to beat the spread. Since then I have been wrong. This time the Spartans look to be the favourites with the spread to beat for Hawaii being +4.5. I really hope they can put on a performance in this one.