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.
Bob Murphy, who was the voice of Stanford athletics when such titles truly mattered in the Bay Area, died Tuesday after a long fight with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 86.
Murphy was viscerally connected to the university in ways that were once in vogue across the nation but are now reserved only to the Midwest and Southeast. He was a walking ambassador for the school’s athletic history, a familiar face to the army of alums who linked to his voice and presence early and ultimately grew old with him, even when coaches and players and athletic directors came and went with unsettling frequency.
And while his time as the alternate face to Hoover Tower eventually faded, he was still Murph – to be honored and respected by all generations, even the ones who never heard him or saw him. If anyone below the age of 25 asked about him, he was spoken of with the reverence reserved for architectural structures or hundred-year-old trees. He belonged to the place, and the place belonged to him.
He mattered at Stanford, because Stanford is an insular community, watching the world outside with a palpable sense of “Thank God we’re safe in here.” He attended the school, he worked as its sports information director, and he was the radio voice who fought for Stanford when only a few people were listening. He had proven his devotion decades ago, until his devotion became part of the background noise and scenery.
And he didn’t even leave after he became ill, and then absent. Only the most successful coaches and athletes get to attain that omnipresent aura in college athletics, and in truth, Murphy reached more people in the community than any coach or player the school has ever had, simply by being at the place, and of the place, longer and more happily than anyone.
Sometime soon, we suspect, he will be remembered with a statue, either near the football stadium or near Maples Pavilion. He will be bronzed, wearing a polo shirt with the S-with-the-interlocking-tree and glasses wedged against the bridge of his nose. He will be seated, with a desk before him and microphone perched atop it, and there will be a plaque with a Wikipedia-ized list of his contributions.
But without the voice, it will be incomplete. That will have to be recreated inside the heads of those who heard it most often, and cared most what words it carried. It is there where Bob Murphy’s memory will thrive – as someone who defined Stanford in ways that no marketing campaign ever could.
Steve Kerr has been the standard by which all other coaches have been measured in these parts since he arrived in Oakland – rescued as it was from the nine hells of the New York Knickerbockers. He is indeed so good that he is still getting credit for the 50 wins he actually didn’t fully merit – the 39 that belong to Luke Walton and the 11 that are Mike Brown’s.
But this is not to slag Kerr’s record – which even if you eliminate the 55 games he hasn’t coached in his three years because of his back issue is still the best in NBA history – but to remind you that David Shaw still exists, he still is supervising the golden age of Stanford football, and he is just as unavailable to pro teams as he ever was.
Shaw, whose team opens its season on Saturday night in Australia against Rice, has been beneath the radar since the day he arrived, for no better reasons than (a) the Bay Area doesn’t hold much stock in college football and (b) he likes it that way. His excellence is indisputable, but he is also in the perfect place to do his job without any of the irritants that surround most college coaches – media, embittered alumni, NCAA investigators, the late night call from the cops about your outside linebacker overturning a minivan, that kind of thing.
He has worn down all attempts to question him on his next job because, while he could get one at the snap of a finger, he was not infected with the standard coach’s ambition to see and be seen. He has seen the sport’s many excesses and has decided to ward off the ones that directly touch him.
He still believes in the game’s virtues, and can probably be considered a fairly doctrinaire figure on most issues confronting the sport and its practitioners, but does not have to pretend that he is too focused on the job to be interested in mundane things like eclipses, political turmoil, social justice and all the other noxious things that happen outside the cocoon.
But be not fooled. He likes the cocoon that is Stanford, and he has the sense to understand that the chance of a better job existing is almost infinitesimal. He may someday want something more public and lucrative, but until money and fame get a long winning streak going at his house, he’ll sit quietly, the second-best coach in the Bay Area and the first-best at making you not remember that he is just that.