NCAA

SJSU players react to MacIntyre's departure

mcintyre_mike_sjsu.jpg

SJSU players react to MacIntyre's departure

The man who captained the SJSU football team to its best season in 25 years and in doing so turned the program a complete 180 degrees in a three-year span has vacated the vessel.

He took the program from a record of 1-11 in his first year to 5-7 in his second and ultimately 10-2 in his third season, but Mike MacIntyre is now the head coach at Colorado University. What’s done is done for Sparty.

And while MacIntyre said he plans on bringing many of his assistants with him to Colorado, they must remain with the team for the time being because there is a task at hand for those who still call themselves Spartans.

The undertaking: Capture the school’s first bowl victory since 2006 after bouncing back from losing a head coach.

“When you deal with a loss at that moment you may be down for a little bit but at the same time we understand we still have work to do,” said junior wide receiver Noel Grisgby, the only of four team captains who will return next season. “At the end of the day we have to come out here and work. Us throwing a pity party out here is not going to help us win come Dec. 27 so we put that aside and use it as fuel to be even better.

At the same, life goes on. We have to work. We’re still working on being the best team in San Jose State history and that’s all that’s on our minds right now. As a family when you lose somebody you have to come close. We’re going to bond closer, we’re going to work even harder to reach the goals we have.”

The decision was made with logical reasoning many of us would have used given the same predicament — MacIntyre’s salary will more than quadruple after signing a five-year, $10 million contract with the Buffaloes.

Grigsby said he did not expect MacIntyre to leave but added that he fully understood the financial implications of the decision and how the dollars as well as MacIntyre’s future coaching dreams may have affected his resolution.

“I didn’t think he was going to leave but at the same time I don’t know,” Grisgby said. “I knew it was tough on him. He talked to us yesterday and he was emotional so I know it was tough on him. At the end of the day he has to provide for his family. He’s married, he has kids and that comes first so you can’t be mad be at him for doing what’s best for his family.”

Fellow team captain, tight end Ryan Otten, mirrored similar comments and added that there are “no hard feelings here.”

“I think we’re doing alright,” Otten said. “Obviously we all wanted Coach Mac to stay here, he was part of the family but at the end of the day I understand it’s still business and when opportunities pop up it’s hard to say no to and I don’t think any of us blame him for pursuing that and it’s a big deal for him and his family.”

As noted earlier, MacIntyre will bring some of his assistants with him to Boulder. Defensive line coach Jim Leffcoat and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren are set to make the jump with MacIntyre, according to FootballScoop.com.

Leffcoat, Lindgren and other assistants will coach the team through its Military Bowl appearance then carry on with their coaching careers, wherever they may lead.

“We’ve been with these guys for two three years ... It’s always tough when you develop a relationship with these guys,” Grigsby said about the team’s coaching staff. “These guys are like father figures to a lot of our guys so it’s tough but all we can do it focus on right now. Coach (Terry) Malley taught us that as receivers we have to cherish the moment right now. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Should Leffcoat and Lindgren leave SJSU, their absences will be missed almost as greatly as MacIntyre’s next season.

Lindgren revitalized the SJSU offense around quarterback David Fales, who broke single-season school record for completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, total offense and eventually will break marks in passer rating and completion percentage. Lindgren earned himself finalist honors for the FootballScoop Quarterbacks Coach of the Year in 2012.

Leffcoat, who was a finalist for the FootballScoop Defensive Line Coach of the Year, made huge improvements on the Spartan defensive line in his second season with the team in 2012. He increased the team’s total of 16 sacks last year to 40 by this regular season’s end.

“Like Coach Mac used to tell us, ‘You never know when your last play is’ and we never know when a coach might leave so we want to cherish that moment and we’re going to continue to work,” Grigsby said.

Otten, a graduating senior, said the program will remain in good shape within the careful hands of Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier and the quality players returning next season.

“At the end of the day it’s the players that win the games not the coaches,” Otten said. “Mr. Bleymaier is going to hire someone that’s going to do a good job and come in here. But it’s up to the players to conintue to play well, stay focused and do the right things and now that we understand what it takes to win and be a good program we just need to stay the course and keep doing what we’ve learned.”

Bleymaier released a statement yesterday saying: "We will work to find a new coach as quickly as possible. We will look for the best person who can pick up where Coach MacIntyre left off.”

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.