Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com
By: Ana Kieu
Even though he was San Jose State’s leading rusher in each of the last two seasons, Tyler Nevens is focused on the present. The third-year running back and the Spartans would be thrilled this season to match his two-year career total of 1,224 rushing yards.
As he puts it, more importantly, Nevens and his fellow teammates plan a more cohesive approach on offense with the goal of finishing plays better than the past.
“As a running back group, we’ve been working really hard. We’ve been disciplined on the field and off the field as well. We learned a lot from our mistakes of last year and spring ball as well. We’re trying to get right and have the proper technique to finish plays and make big plays,” says Nevens, who had team-high totals of four rushing touchdowns and a long run of 38 yards last year.
According to running backs coach Alonzo Carter, this year’s offense plans to run the ball as much as possible. Coach Carter believes the Spartans have options at running back — power, experience, speed, change-of-pace, players capable of running through tackles, catch passes and can provide sufficient pass protection.”
“We have the ‘Harlem Heat’ as I call them — Tyler Nevens and DeJon Packer. They’re a pair of big 220-pound downhill runners and physical backs. Then, we have Kairee Robinson. He’s the difference maker. He changes the pace. He comes in. He gives you all the juice. Adding to that downhill style is Hunter Nye. And (Brendan) Manigo, he’s one of the fastest guys on the team. So, he can take off at any time,” says Carter.
The Spartans’ running backs coach also has goals for his group taking each play one play at a time. The reward, not necessarily, a bonus is more opportunities to run the football.
“Finishing. We want to be able to finish off plays, run through arm tackles, get to space, and, most importantly, make sure we protect the quarterback. In our room, “no block, no rock.” So, you have to block and be able to protect the quarterback. That comes with ‘maxing’ the protections and keep Josh Love clean,” Carter says.
Nevens concurs. He and his fellow running backs will be able to put words into action, especially during the Spartans’ first fall scrimmage on Saturday, August 10 at 5:30 p.m. in CEFCU Stadium.
Tickets for the San Jose State season opener with Northern Colorado on Thursday, August 29 at 7:00 p.m. and all home games are available at www.sjsuspartans.com/tickets.
NOTES: Tyler Ervin (2014, 15), Brandon Rutley (2010, 11) and Nevens are the three Spartans to lead the team in rushing in consecutive seasons in the last 10 years.