Last Saturday in San Antonio, the San Jose State University football team captureda decisive 52-24 victory over UTSA while assuming the role of the favored teamand battling a large crowd at the Alamo Dome. This Saturday, the team will faceanother longhorn opponent in Texas State for the first timein school history and like a week ago, the Spartans are the favorite towin.I dont know if the kids knowif theyre favored or not, thats all done by bookies, head coach Mike MacIntyre said. All wecare about is what we do on the football field. We are excited about playing Texas State.Whether the team or coachesrealize the team is favored or not, the notion of being the better team on thefield is something the Spartans will have to recognize not only this weekendagainst the Bobcats but over the next three weeks with games against Idaho and New Mexico Stateto follow.I hope thats something theyrenot thinking about, MacIntyre said about the idea of the team resting on itslaurels while playing a somewhat inferior opponent. If they are, thats notwhere we want to be.Games like the one against UTSA,the 45-13 trampling of UC Davis or even the 40-20 win over Colorado Stateon Sept. 15 are giving the Spartans the opportunity to keep their feet on theiropponents throats while maintaining the large lead.Weve been very fortunate thisyear to have a couple games in hand and our kids have Put on more steam tomake sure we kept it in hand, he said. Thats something we try to talk about,try to work on, try to enforce because in the past we didnt always do that.This Saturday at Spartan Stadiumwill most likely shake out as another opportunity for SJSU to jump out to anearly lead and pin their opponents to the ground while continuing to amasspoints on the scoreboard. The Bobcats are an FCS team playing their first roadgame within the Western Athletic Conference theres no surprise SJSU is thefavorite to win.MacIntyre, though, gives creditto the Texas State offense that ranks fifth in theconference in yards per game, adding that the SJSU will need to be in good formto stop the Bobcats.Their option offense is veryformidable and can make a lot of things happen, he said. Our defense is goingto have to be very sharp and on top of its game to be able to slow them down.Offensively, Texas Stateis led by quarterback Shaun Rutherford, who ranks fifth in the conference andtwelfth nationally in pass efficiency with a rating of 161.7. SJSU, however,counters and one-ups the Bobcats with its own prolific quarter back in DavidFales, who leads the conference and is tenth in the nation in the samestatistical category with a 166.4 passer rating.MacIntyre had nothing but praisefor Fales, who was sacked 13 times in SJSUs 49-27 loss to Utah State,for not allowing the hits to get to his head even though he was not sacked oncelast week against UTSA.When asked if Fales mindsetbehind center changed after being sacked so many times two weeks ago, MacIntyreresponded: Not one bit.Its interesting because youdthink he might (change his mindset) but it didnt change him whatsoever,MacIntyre said. He never batted an eye in the game, not one time. Never showedany disgust or even think about it, he just went back into the game. I thinkthats a credit to his toughness and how humble a leader he is. Hes not an ego guyat all and he just wants to do whatever he can to win. The kids the reallyrespect him and I think that really helped the offensive line because he trustand believes in them.MacIntyre is concerned that Texas Statespass rush may be able to get to Fales on Saturday despite ranking last in theconference in sacks.Offensively, we have to containtheir pass rush, he said. They do a good job of getting to the quarterback.Along with its star quarterbackto counter Texas States,the Spartans have the best pass defense in the WAC to help stop Rutherford. SJSUs 40th-ranked pass defense in the nationis allowing just 211.1 passing yards per game.MacIntyre is confident that theSJSU passing game can once again take over the game if the running gamestruggles. SJSU averages 100 yards rushing per game, compared to Texas States162. The Spartans gained just 91 yards on 32 rush attempts and were outgained onthe ground by UTSA.Of course wed like to run theball better and hopefully we can but theyre good on defense so if they stopthe run well throw the football, he said.Expect the running backs to takea back seat to both teams passing attacks Saturday. The ball is sure to beaired out quite a bit and look for Fales to outperform his counterpart.
Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.
“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.
"He does everything at a high level.”
At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.
“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”
Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.
“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”
Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.
“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.
And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.
“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”
No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”
Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.
“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”
One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.
“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”
Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.
“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”
LOS ANGELES — Steven Mitchell and Deontay Burnett caught two touchdown passes apiece from Sam Darnold, and No. 6 Southern California extended its winning streak to 11 games with a bruising 42-24 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Saturday night.
Darnold went 21 of 26 with 316 yards passing for the Trojans (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12), who snapped their three-game losing streak in this California private-school rivalry. USC racked up 623 total yards and won the first Pac-12 game of the new season by beating the hard-nosed Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) at their own physical game.
Ronald Jones II rushed for 116 yards and scored a touchdown in his ninth consecutive game as USC excelled at Stanford's traditional strengths, running the ball for 307 yards and controlling both lines of scrimmage. Turnovers and penalties by the Trojans kept it fairly close, but freshman Stephen Carr added 119 yards rushing, and Jones cartwheeled into the end zone with a clinching 23-yard TD run with 4:15 to play.
Keller Chryst passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Bryce Love had a 75-yard TD run among his 160 yards rushing for the Cardinal, who hadn't played since their season-opening win over Rice in Australia last month.
After a scoreless third quarter, USC made a 90-yard scoring drive capped by Mitchell's second TD on a feathery 11-yard TD pass by Darnold with 9:42 to play. Stanford stayed close with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's TD catch with 6:41 to play, but Jones' incredible second TD run capped a smooth 75-yard drive in USC's 11th consecutive win at the Coliseum.
Stanford had won eight of its last 11 meetings with USC in a dominant stretch that began with its historic 2007 upset victory at the Coliseum.
After USC scored 49 points in its season opener, Darnold's offense again was in fine form from the start. USC scored four touchdowns on five lengthy drives in the first half, with Darnold hitting Burnett for two of his three TD passes.
USC moved 74 yards on two plays late in the half to take a 28-17 lead on Burnett's leaping 25-yard TD grab.
Stanford: That 62-point performance in the season opener Down Under was impossible to replicate against a top Pac-12 defense, and the Cardinal's offense will know it must add versatility to the attack. Stanford's defense also had big problems at the line of scrimmage, and that isn't a problem with which the Cardinal have much experience.
USC: This talent-laden offense has appeared to have the makings of a juggernaut so far. Darnold returned to 2016 form with a smooth, poised performance against a vaunted conference opponent, while the Trojans' receivers appear to be much more reliable than coach Clay Helton feared. USC's defense also stepped up after halftime and shut down one of the Pac-12's best.
Stanford: The Cardinal's three-game stretch away from home to open the season concludes at San Diego State.
USC: The Trojans welcome Texas to the Coliseum for a meeting of two powerhouse programs.