SJSU may have lost out on hopes for a Western Athletic Conference title before Saturday nights matchup against Brigham-Young University began, but it didnt show on the field. Utah State defeated Louisiana Tech earlier Saturday to almost assuredly wrap up the WAC championship unless it loses to Idaho next week but the Spartans looked like they could care less by adding a convincing 20-14 win at home on national television over BYU to their bowl resume. One of our coaches always talks about euphoria I think I know the definition of euphoria now, said linebacker David Tuitupolou about the win. The Spartans (9-2, 4-1 WAC) did not score in the second half and allowed BYU (6-5) to crawl within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson narrowly escaped a sack and found wide receiver David Foote to reduce SJSUs lead to 20-14.BYU successfully converted an onside kick attempt following the touchdown and began a would-be game-winning drive with 2:36 left in the game. The Cougars were able to get to the SJSU 21 yard line before Spartan linebacker Keith Smith broke through the BYU offensive line to force a fumble, which was recovered by linebacker Vince Buhagiar to seal the victory. It was a blur, said Smith, who tied a career high with 19 tackles, about his forced fumble. I was in my zone and coach called a blitz and it ran to perfection. It just so happened to come my way ... It was like a dream especially how it just came my way.Head coach Mike MacIntyre said the team did not tire despite the defense having to return to the field following the BYU onside kick.The energy our kids got in that last part there, because you could think they could have gone dead-legged you could see the momentum turn but they just rose, he said.SJSU played one of the most complete first halves it has played all season and against its most demanding opponent. At one point, SJSU converted each of its first eight third down plays. The Spartans, however, were 0-8 on from then on. Quarterback David Fales threw a touchdown pass on each of the Spartans first three drives of the evening, two of which rewrote SJSU football record books. It didnt take Fales long either he broke the records in the span of his first ten passes. Fales third pass yielded the games first score, a 51-yard touchdown to Noel Grigsby. The deep strike was Fales 26th touchdown pass of the season, breaking Steve Clarksons record set in 1981. Fales tenth pass of the game, an 8-yard touchdown to Chandler Jones, broke the school single-season record for passing yards, set by Mike Perez in 1987. Fales now has 3,431 passing yards after Saturdays game, also an SJSU single-season record for total offense. Im speechless, Fales said of his newly acquired records at SJSU, but its our entire offense not just me. We were recognizing and seeing what they were doing and we were making good reads. Receivers ran good routes and got open. We just executed what we had in our game plan.Fales finished the game with 305 yards on 25-34 passing and the 3 touchdowns.The BYU defense, which surpassed season averages by allowing 20 points and 294 yards to SJSU by halftime, buckled down during halftime and came out much stronger to begin the second half. The Cougars sacked Fales twice on the Spartans second-half opening possession. SJSU hadnt allowed a sack since its Oct. 13 loss to Utah State, who brought down Fales 13 times in the game. BYU went on to allow just 63 total yards to SJSU in the third quarter alone. After converting their first eight third-down attempts, the Spartans were unable to convert on five straight third down plays stretching from the end of the second quarter into the fourth. The Cougars responded by scoring on their first possession of the game as well. They put together a 9-play, 79-yard drive capped by a Jamaal Williams 16-yard touchdown run, setting the score at 7-6 in favor of BYU. Fales collected his third touchdown of the game on a 18-yard completion to Noel Grigsby with 13:23 left in the second half to make the score 20-17. The Spartan defense buckled down in the first half after allowing the Cougars to score on their first possession. BYU gained just 61 yards from scrimmage from their second possession through halftime. I think if you told anybody in American wed be 9-2 at this point not many would agree with you except for the guys in our locker room, MacIntyre said. As far as next weeks game, youd like to play for the WAC but instead were playing for 10 wins.The SJSU football program has never seen a 10-win team during the regular season. Should the Spartans defeat Louisiana Tech next week then win a bowl game if they are invited, it will be the first SJSU team in school history to win 11 games. Congrats to Utah State, but no question about it next week it still a big game for us, said Grigsby, who caught 8 passes for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns Saturday night. We want a 10-win season 10-3 sounds a lot better than 9-3.
INDIANAPOLIS -- More and more college coaches are putting their starters and even their stars on special teams as they seek to pile up every possible point in an era of pedal-to-the-metal shootouts and never-safe leads.
Fading fast are the days when superstars would catch their breath on the sideline when the kicker or punter trotted onto the field with the scrubs.
NFL teams love it.
Watching how players handle themselves as a blocker, gunner or returner provides a glimpse into a prospect's range, selflessness and versatility. It also delivers a sneak peek into how coachable he'll be, says Phil Savage, the SiriusXM NFL Radio host who spent two decades as an NFL coach, scout and executive and now oversees the Senior Bowl.
"I think because of the landscape of college football where scoring is at a premium, you've got to figure out a way to put points on the board not only on offense but through your special teams and defensively, as well," Savage says. "These coaches want to get these young players on the field as soon as possible, and a way to do that is utilize them on special teams."
These tapes provide a bonus to pro scouts.
"Now you have a vision of what that player might forecast to in the NFL as a young player and, specifically, as a rookie," Savage said.
Offensive and defensive coaches have a better idea of the types of players they're integrating into their schemes, and special teams coaches no longer get blank stares and blank canvases from the rookie class.
"Not only do you like the fact that they come in and have experience doing it, but you love the mentality if you're a coach and a decision maker that this guy isn't a diva, he's got no ego about it, he understands the team and puts team before self," says ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.
"And he comes in with the mindset of 'What can I do to help the team and how can I contribute?' Those are the guys that seem to make it and last longer in the league because they're just willing to do different things and whatever it takes."
The prime example in this year's draft class is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey , a "dynamic player than can do it all," according to Broncos GM John Elway.
McCaffrey gained more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage in his college career and added almost 2,000 more as a returner.
"There's just a lot of big plays open in the return game," McCaffrey says. "You see special teams have such an impact on the game today. Any time I can have the ball in my hands, I feel like I can do something dangerous, and that's really why I love the return game."
Other highly touted draft prospects who polished their resumes on special teams include Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Washington wide receiver John Ross, and USC cornerback Adroee' Jackson, all of whom are projected as high selections.
McShay says "we're seeing more and more programs put an emphasis on special teams and having their key players contribute in one or more areas on special teams."
He pointed to Ohio State, where Urban Myers coaches special teams himself.
"It's a major emphasis there, and so you'll see some more guys typically lined up and contributing that are starters and stars," McShay says. "It's an honor to be on special teams."
Not a burden.
"It is not uncommon now to see people that are going to be picked in the first round having 100-plus special teams plays," suggests NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.
He pointed to the University of Florida, where Gators defensive backs cover kickoffs as well as they do receivers.
"Everyone's always trying to get their best guys on the field," Brandt says.
That's a change from years past when coaches feared exposing their star players to the extra hits.
The added value benefits the players, whose multiple talents allow NFL general managers to address many needs.
"We're seeing more emphasis on it in college, and I think NFL teams love to see it because if just means you're getting a bit more for your buck," McShay says.
Top talents who bolstered their value by playing special teams:
CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY , RB, STANFORD: He shined at the combine working out with the running backs and was as impressive running routes. Asked if there was anything he couldn't do, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey said then: "I can't sing."
JABRILL PEPPERS , S, MICHIGAN: He worked out with safeties and linebackers at the combine, where teams talked of him playing RB and WR in addition to returning kicks. "The bottom line is I'm a ballplayer and I'm a hell of a ballplayer," Peppers said.
JOHN ROSS , WR, WASHINGTON: He caught 81 passes with 17 TDs last season but actually posted more return yards (2,069) than scrimmage yards (1,924) in his college career.
ADOREE' JACKSON , CB, USC: One of the best special teams coverage players in the NCAA, Jackson also scored eight TDs on punt and kick returns in college. His punt return averages rose from 6.0 yards to 10.5 and 15.8.
JAMAL ADAMS , S, LSU: Another star in coverage, Adams' defensive mentality extends to special teams. "I love being on the field and just playing football," said Adams, whose father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985.
ALVIN KAMARA , RB, TENNESSEE: In a deep running back group, Kamara separates himself with his special teams acumen. "A lot of teams have been bringing up special teams," Kamara said.
DESMOND KING , CB, IOWA: He had eight interceptions as a junior and three as a senior. "I had a really good special teams season," King said. "Not being targeted as much, I still went out there and competed the best I could and was still making plays."
CHRIS WORMLEY , DE, MICHIGAN: Wormley touts playing for Jim Harbaugh as one of his attributes. "Coach Harbaugh came in and ran our program like an NFL program, like he had with the 49ers," said Wormley, who blocked three kicks his senior season.
ZAY JONES , WR, EAST CAROLINA: Like McCaffrey, he has good NFL bloodlines (son of Robert Jones, brother of Cayleb Jones). He caught 158 passes as a senior, but spent his first two seasons in college also making his mark as a returner.
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.
The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.
"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.
"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."
Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.
With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.
His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.
He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.
Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.
Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.
His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.
Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.
His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.