NCAA

SJSU's season possibly hanging in balance vs. Utah State

913651.jpg

SJSU's season possibly hanging in balance vs. Utah State

SJSU faces a fork in the road in its season Saturday when it matches up against one of the Western Athletic Conferences best teams in Utah State. Not that a loss would necessarily force the Spartans onto a course without a bowl berth at the finish line, but a win sure would help their cause.Saturdays homecoming game at Spartan Stadium is the first game in WAC play for both SJSU (4-1) and Utah State (4-2) and has large implications on standings with Louisiana Tech (5-0) rounding out the three favorites to win conference title.Were excited but still taking our season week by week, said junior quarterback David Fales about Saturdays important matchup. Our goal since the beginning has been to win the WAC, so every game within the WAC in big.The Aggies are lead by two playmakers on offense senior running back Kerwynn Williams and sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton and a stifling defense that ranks second in the WAC in yards allowed and has given up just seven touchdowns the least in the conference.Williams leads all WAC players in all-purpose yardage with 137.5 yards per game and rushing averaging 89.5 yards and undoubtedly the most explosive player on this Utah State roster.The most dynamic Aggie, however, is Keeton, who can use both his arm and his feet to accumulate yardage for Utah State. Keeton is fifth in the conference throwing with 247.5 yards per game and is also tenth in average rushing per game with 38.2 yards.Utah State is scary, said SJSU head coach Mike MacIntyre. They have a lot of speed. Their quarterback makes a lot of things happen not only with his arm but also his feet. He can buy time in the pocket and make plays.While Keetons rounded play impresses MacIntyre and causes a deal of concern for the Spartan defense, MacIntyre said he is even more concerned with the whereabouts of Williams on the field at any time during the game.Keeton makes a lot of plays but you always have to know where No. 25 (Williams) is he scares me the most, MacIntyre said. He catches the ball, runs it and thats when they win is when hes making plays.A game of Wheres No. 25 has become a common part of practice for the Spartans over their two-week preparation for Utah State with a bye last Saturday.Before every play, our coaches have been having us point him out Theres No. 25, said sophomore defensive tackle Travis Raciti. We do it almost as a form of intimidation and also recollection to know where he is every play.It seems the modified game of Wheres Waldo has given the Spartans an extra boost of confidence.Hes explosive, but well contain him, Raciti said.Neither Keeton nor Williams did much damage against Brigham-Young University this past Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Cougars. BYUs third-ranked defense in the nation allowing just 8.8 points per game held Keeton to 202 yards passing and WIlliams to just 18 yards rushing.SJSU faces both Utah State and Louisiana Tech at home this season. Should the Spartan defeat the Aggies Saturday, it could set up a showdown for the conference title in the seasons final game against Louisiana Tech on Nov. 24.First things first, though, for the Spartans, who just want to take this game against Utah State before anything else. SJSU lost a heartbreaker against Utah State last season on a touchdown pass with 47 seconds remaining in the game.MacIntyre not only wants to win Saturday for standings purposes but to also avenge the teams loss last season and added that his team knows how impactful this weekends game is on this season.They know it they understand how good Utah State is, he said. They know theyve beat us in heartbreaking fashion. No one on this team has beat that team.
INJURY REPORT Starters junior linebacker Keith Smith and sophomore wide receiver Jabari Carr are expected to play Saturday after missing the Sept. 29 12-0 win over Navy.

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

harrison-phillips-drive.jpg

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

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.”

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

stanford-usc.jpg
USASTI

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

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.

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

UP NEXT

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.