NCAA

SJSU hopes to add BYU to list of victories

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SJSU hopes to add BYU to list of victories

Spartan football will play its toughest opponent of the season Saturday in Brigham-Young University. Win or lose, however, the Spartans could still have a shot at the Western Athletic Conference title should Louisiana Tech defeat Utah State six hours before the Spartans and Cougars kick off.To fit the occasion, the scene has been set for this Saturday and next ESPN2 has picked up both Spartan contests and while head coach Mike MacIntyre said his goal is still to win the WAC, the team cannot look ahead of this Saturday.SJSU (8-2, 4-1 WAC) will have a chance to bolster its bowl application with a win over the Cougars, which would be the most impressive win for the Spartans this season.Its a big game. Its exciting to have two important, meaningful two weeks in November, MacIntyre said. Our kids understand that weve kind of gone to another level and we need to stay there.You always like to play against the best and Saturday well get to play against truly one of the very best defenses in America.Should Louisiana Tech defeat Utah State this weekend, the Spartans would have a chance to claim a three-way conference title with both schools by beating Louisiana Tech the following week. It would be SJSUs first football WAC title in school history.RELATED: Two SJSU football players suspended for season
But before the Spartans can have a chance to call themselves the best in their conference, they need to get through, like MacIntyre said, one of the best defenses in collegiate football. The Cougars rank seventh in the country by allowing just 14.2 points per game.Quarterback David Fales, who ranks first in the nation in completion percentage and fourth in passer rating, said he is not really worried about scoring on the stout BYU defense.Were just going to take it a play at a time and execute what we got, he said. Weve been putting a game plan together for them so it should be good.MacIntyre said the success of his offense will come down to execution.If we execute then well be able to move the ball, he said. Yes, theyre good. We probably wont move the ball as well as we have against other teams because theye good; theyre big; theyre strong; theyre fast.The BYU defense has allowed the team to play tough against every one of its opponents this season. The 42 points it allowed to then-No. 10 Oregon State is the most allowed all season. The other two top-25 opponents BYU has faced have been competitive match-ups because of the effort from the Cougars defense.On Sept. 20, BYU lost to Boise State, the 24th-best team in the nation at the time, by a final score of 7-6. Three weeks ago, BYU took Notre Dame, the second-best team in the country, down to the final minutes before losing 17-14. The Cougars led the Fighting Irish 14-7 late in the second quarter.They should have beat Notre Dame, MacIntyre said. Notre Dame was really lucky to beat them. To me, BYU outplayed them.MacIntyre said he will run a balanced offense of both run and pass plays to throw off BYUs ability to sack the quarterback. The passing game, however, will surely take over for SJSU as the team ranks 108th in the nation in yards per game on the ground and lost back-up running back David Freeman to suspension.They have great outside linebackers that rush the passer so if we pass on every down they can just tee off and that wont be good for us, he said. BYU knows that, we know that and well need to have balance.Offensively, the Cougars are led by quarterback Riley Nelson, who has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 1,676 yards and 12 touchdowns. MacIntyre said Nelsons ability to get it to the Cougars tall and lanky wide receivers is what makes him successful.He is a play-maker and a competitor, MacIntyre said about Nelson. He can run. He can throw and he has done very well.With that said, though, MacIntyre added that he has had the luxury of being able to say every Saturday that he has the best quarterback on the field in Fales.David is our steady guy, he said. When hes out there, hes hard to stop.If the Spartans are going to win, Fales is going to need to be the steady guy MacIntyre knows him as.

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

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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

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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.