Posted: 1:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013
It should have been clear to anyone watching the San Jose State Spartans vs. the Stanford Cardinal that the Spartan defensive and offensive lines were getting pushed around a bit. Although the defense was able to pressure Kevin Hogan a few times, they weren't able to seal the deal with a single sack. The offensive line was frequently unable to form a clean pocket for David Fales and so deep routes were unable to develop. Against Sacramento State and against Stanford, Spartan center Nicholas Kasper struggled with snapping the ball; several times in both games the ball almost hit the ground before David Fales could get control of it.
Jimmy Durkin reports that the Spartans are tinkering with the offensive line during the week to take care of these problems. The first and most notable of these changes is that Nicholas Kaspar is getting snaps at the right guard position where he played all last season. 6'5 297lbs junior David Peterson is taking first team snaps at center. David Peterson red-shirted in 2010 and has seen limited starting action since. According to Scout.com he was the 27th ranked center prospect in 2009 so he apparently had some potential. I like the move because Nicholas Kaspar was an outstanding right guard last year and this year has struggled with his shift to center. Hopefully this will allow the Spartan offensive line to focus more on stopping incoming defensive players and focus less on "Did David Fales even catch that snap?"
Somewhat more puzzling is Durkin's report that left guard Ryan Jones has been on the sidelines while Keith Bendixen has been taking snaps with the first team. Keith Bendixen sat out last season with an injury, and played in a few games in 2011 as a backup tackle. Durkin quoted Ron Caragher as saying "We're just looking more at things and see how they operate, I'm encouraged. They say competition brings out the best in all of us." I haven't seen Ryan Jones do anything to actually lose his position, though I suppose if Keith Bendixen proves to be an actual upgrade to the run-blocking game he might get some playing time. Otherwise, Ryan Jones hopefully retains his position with an increased sense of urgency.
The defense is going to be working on "fundamentals". After the Stanford game, it is pretty clear this is code for "working on tackling". Stanford was able to gain a lot of ground because the Spartan front seven and the secondary missed or botched tackles. The Spartan front seven especially cant allow itself to be pushed around like they were against Stanford, as their next opponent is from the Big 10 conference and has a very physical run game. The Minnesota Golden Gophers have had an average of 281 yards on the ground over their last two games. Unlike against Stanford, the San Jose Spartans should be able to load 8 men in the box against Minnesota, which should allow them to get much more pressure on Minnesota's quarterback,