SJSU piles on second-half points in route of UC Davis

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SJSU piles on second-half points in route of UC Davis

Dating back to the 2011 season, the last three games played by SJSU were all decided by three points. Saturdays win over UC Davis may have seemed similarly close in the first half, but by the end, it was clear this result was another story.The first 28 minutes of the game were controlled by UC Davis but every minute after belonged to the Spartans, who outscored UC Davis 45-6 from the 1:21 mark in the second quarter through the end of the game to bring a final score of 45-13, the largest win by SJSU since 2007. We got ourselves on our heels on defense, said SJSU head coach Mike MacIntyre about the first half of play.MacIntyre added that winning was the goal and that the lopsided score was not what the team was aiming for but is something he would like to continue to see from SJSU. It is important for us to win, and then it is important for us to put on more gas, he said. Put the pedal to the metal and keep going.We need to finish teams off. We didnt do that last year and I think thats the next phase. Thats what we have to be able to do.The Spartans were led offensively by senior running back DeLeon Eskridge, who ran for three touchdowns on 136 yards rushing and revived an SJSU offense that made mistakes and looked very flat in the first half. Eskridges first two appearances in the end zone happened late in the second quarter and in rapid succession. He scored two touchdowns within 28 seconds of game clock, the second coming with 1:21 left in the second quarter to give the Spartans a 14-7 halftime lead that seemed would never happen the way the majority of the first half transpired. They were phenomenal runs, I was very impressed, MacIntyre said.Eskridge said he gives all his thanks to the offensive line and echoed MacIntyres goal of finishing football games. In football, things go up and down, the team that finished is going to win.The majority of the first half belonged to a UC Davis team that moved the ball very effectively through the air. Quarterback Randy Wright, whose arm helped win the last meeting between the two teams in 2010, continued to shine against the Spartan defense two years later. On the second play of the game, Wright connected with sophomore wide receiver Alex Cannon on a 45-yard touchdown strike to take a seven-point lead after less than a minute of play. Wright finished with 194 yards on 14-of-23 passing 123 of those yards coming in the first half. We realized we needed to pick it up a lot more, said senior defensive end Travis Johnson. We got back into our rhythm and played from start to finish. Once we did that our defense started working together and we were able to stop them the rest of the game.SJSU failed to break into UC Davis territory on its first two drives until a muffed punt reception by Aggie wide receiver Anthony Soto allowed the Spartans to take over on the 33 yard line. Still, the SJSU offense could not capitalize but instead coughed up a turnover on a third-down fumble by junior quarterback Fales.The Spartans did not score until Eskridges first TD run, but once they did the scoring did not stop. SJSU scored on seven straight possessions that spanned from the end of the second quarter to the 2:02 mark when a fumble ended the streak. A 10-yard touchdown pass from junior backup quarterback Blake Jurich to Chandler Jones on the first possession of the second half brought the Spartan lead to 21-7. Another touchdown catch by Jones, this time thrown by Fales on SJSUs following possession made it 28-7. After Eskridges third rushing touchdown of the night, a 25-yard field goal by freshman Austin Lopez and a rushing touchdown by Jurich and the Spartans closed their scoring for the evening. Fales finished the win with 277 yards on 23-of-32 passing, helping the Spartan out-gain the Aggies on offense 510-252. The 510 yards is the most by SJSU since on loss to Louisiana Tech on Nov. 27, 2010. Defensively, no Spartan played better than senior defensive end Travis Johnson. Johnson tied a career-high with four sacks and collected six tackles for a loss.Hes a beast, MacIntyre said of Johnson. Thats why hes the best sacker in America, best in WAC history. He just has a motor I feel bad for those guys on the offensive line.Fales said he very much enjoyed the win and is loving the quality receivers SJSU has to offer.Those guys are good, he said. Its nice getting a win like this, being able to build your confidence and get our rhythm. We are still going week-to-week but tonight was a good win.

Local college players turn heads at respective Pro Days

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AP

Local college players turn heads at respective Pro Days

Last week both Stanford and Cal held “Pro Day,” an annual showcase where each school’s departing players audition for NFL scouts. 

To those unfamiliar with Pro Days, these events typically feature lots of men with stopwatches, a few TV news crews, and a group of players running 40-yard dashes, cone drills and 20-yard shuttles. The objective is to give NFL teams an opportunity to evaluate prospects up close and personal.

Since 1982, the top 300 or so prospects in the country have been invited each year to the NFL Scouting Combine, a centralized evaluation for all pro teams. Subsequent Pro Days held by individual schools provide a stage for players who weren’t invited to the combine. They also offer participants a chance to improve their combine performance or give interested teams another look.

At Cal’s Pro Day on Friday, Khalfani Muhammad turned a lot of heads with a 4.35 40-yard dash, faster than any running back recorded at the combine earlier this month. In fact, Muhammad’s time would have tied for fourth best overall. Wide receiver Chad Hansen also impressed with a 4.45 in the driving rain. Quarterback Davis Webb, who had some accuracy issues at the combine, had a good outing despite throwing a wet ball for much of the day. His predecessor, Jared Goff, was the No. 1 pick in last year’s NFL draft.

Stanford’s “Pro Timing Day” on Thursday attracted a lot of attention because of the presence of two projected first round draft picks — running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Over 40 NFL representatives were on hand, including 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Carolina Panthers head man Ron Rivera. Several sportswriters and local TV anchors covered the proceedings, which were also streamed live on ESPN3.

It was a far cry from the pre-Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw days, when Stanford had few pro prospects and Pro Days drew sparse turnouts. However, 31 Stanford players have been drafted in the last seven years, including four in the first round and six in the second. McCaffrey and Solomon will boost those numbers.

McCaffrey has been the Cardinal’s marquee player for the past two seasons. He set an NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards in 2015, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, and then rushed for 1,639 yards in ’16. Thomas had 25 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in the last two seasons and was named the Pac-12’s defensive lineman of the year last fall.

Surprisingly, most pundits now believe Thomas will go higher than McCaffrey in the draft. McCaffrey is currently projected to go middle or late first round. Thomas is expected to go in the top five. In fact, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper now has Thomas being taken with the No. 2 pick in the draft by that team down the road in Santa Clara.

NFL teams are split as to whether McCaffrey can be an every down back. Some see him as more of a complimentary, third-down type. At the combine, he excelled in the 40-yard dash (4.48), vertical jump (37.5”), cone drill (6.57) and both 20 and 60-yard shuttles (4.22 and 11.03), but did only 10 reps in the bench press. His overall rating at the combine was 5.99 (out of a possible 8.0). At Pro Day on Thursday, he put on a brilliant display in a number of receiving drills, showing off the versatility that many teams crave.

Thomas was one of the top performers at the combine, registering a 4.69 40, 30 reps in the bench press, a 126” broad jump, 6.95 cone drill and 4.28 shuttle. His overall rating was 6.85. On Pro Day, he did a number of position specific drills.

Unlike McCaffrey, who elected to skip the Cardinal’s post-season game, Thomas played in the Sun Bowl and elevated his pro stock with several game-changing plays. The NFL’s post-combine analysis noted: “Thomas' bowl performance against North Carolina opened a lot of eyes, as he was all over the field in the Cardinal's win in a way that isn't even reflected in an impressive stat line (seven tackles, two for loss, sack).”

According to one NFL observer at Pro Day, “In the bowl game, Thomas went from the second round to maybe the second pick in the draft.”

Stanford coach David Shaw, understandably, is a huge fan of both players. He chafes at the suggestion McCaffrey can’t be an every down back.

“People may not want to talk about it, but race is a component in that discussion,” he told me at Pro Day. “Some teams want to put Christian in a box. ‘He’s a white running back, another Danny Woodhead.’ Well, he’s not. If you look at the film, what he did at the combine, and here today, he’s more of a Reggie Bush or a Ladainian Tomlinson. He’s a difference maker.”

Shaw also marveled at Thomas’s rise up the draft boards since his Sun Bowl performance.

“That’s the beauty of bowl games,” Shaw said. “What might seem meaningless to one guy can make 10 million dollars for another.”

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame, punches ticket to Final Four

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USATSI

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame, punches ticket to Final Four

BOX SCORE

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Alanna Smith's jumper with 23 seconds left capped Stanford's rally from a 16-point deficit in the second half, Erica McCall blocked a last-second shot and the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 Sunday to reach its first Final Four since 2014.

Brittany McPhee scored 27 as the second-seeded Cardinal (32-5) won its eighth in a row overall. This was the third straight year Stanford and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA Tournament, with the Cardinal winning twice.

Down 47-31 in the third quarter, Stanford surged to end Notre Dame's 17-game winning streak. The Irish (33-4) had a final shot, but McCall blocked Arike Ogunbowale's drive near the basket.

The win in the Lexington Regional gives Stanford a chance to pursue its third national championship under coach Tara VanDerveer.

Among those in the crowd at Rupp Arena was Jon Samuelson, whose daughter, Karlie, scored 15 for Stanford. A day earlier, he was at the Bridgeport Regional to see another daughter, UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson, help the Huskies win their 110th straight game.

Smith finished with 15 points.

Ogunbowale had 25 and Marina Mabrey 20 for Notre Dame, which had sought its sixth Final Four in seven seasons.

After driving for a basket with 51 seconds left, Smith added her biggest shot for the go-ahead score. Stanford then denied Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen and Ogunbowale on successive attempts in the final 15 seconds to spark a wild celebration.

THE BIG PICTURE:
Stanford once again proved no deficit was too big to overcome. The Cardinal shot 12 of 26 on 3-pointers, Samuelson and McPhee each making five. Not bad, considering Stanford shot 2 of 15 overall in the second quarter while getting outscored 23-7. ... McCall had 15 rebounds.

Notre Dame seemed to do everything right for most of the game but couldn't stop Stanford's perimeter game in the second half. The Irish also made just 11 of 31 shots after halftime and were topped 33-32 on the boards.

UP NEXT:
Stanford faces the South Carolina-Florida State winner in the Final Four in Dallas next weekend.