Cardinal use fumble recovery TD to edge Pitt 14-13 in Sun Bowl

Photo credit: elpasotimes.com

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Monday, December 31, 2018

Stanford did its part to defend the honor of the Pac-12 Conference Monday, squeaking out a 14-13 victory over Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas.

The Cardinal finished its season 9-4, and played the game without star running back Bryce Love, who sat out the game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Pitt wound up 7-7.

Stanford won, despite being held to 208 yards of total offense, and converting only 1 of 10 third downs.

The Cardinal were trailing 13-7 when, with 11:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, quarterback K.J. Costello tried to score from the Pitt 1-yard line, but fumbled. The ball was recovered in the end zone by Cameron Scarlett, who filled in for Love.

Jet Toner’s PAT kick provided the margin of victory. Bobby Okereke racked up five tackles with a sack and a pass break up. Sean Barton added a team-high eight tackles.

The Panthers opened the scoring early in the second quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Alex Kessman. Stanford took its first lead at 7:39 on Scarlett’s 1-yard plunge, putting the Cardinal up 7-3.

A 6-yard touchdown run by Darrin Hall put Pitt ahead 10-7 with 2:32 remaining in the half.

Pitt extended its lead to 13-7 on Kessman’s 28-yard field goal with 8:13 left in the third quarter.

Costello completed 6 of 17 passes for 105 yards and no interceptions. Scarlett gained 94 rushing yards on 22 carries while scoring both Cardinal touchdowns. Dorian Maddox averaged 5.8 yards on four attempts.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside caught 3 passes for 94 yards.

Hall gained a game-high 123 rushing yards for the Panthers on 16 attempts. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 136 yards on 11 of 29 passing. Taysir Mack caught four passes for 68 yards, and Maurice Ffrench snared 5 passes for 49 yards.

Stanford and Pitt set to face off in Sun Bowl on Monday

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By: Ana Kieu

Sure, the playoff semifinals are set for Saturday, but that isn’t the end of the 2018 bowl season. There are two full days of bowl games set for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, respectively. In the Sun Bowl, it’s an ACC and Pac-12 showdown as Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt Panthers meet David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal at the University of Texas at El Paso on New Year’s Eve.

Here’s what you need to know about the Sun Bowl.

Spread
Stanford -4.5

Over/Under
52

Analyses
Stanford is the clear favorite, while Pitt is the obvious underdog. Pitt started out the season just 3-4 before pulling off four straight conference wins to win a division title and a trip to the ACC Championship Game. The Panthers’ rushing attack was dominant, as Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison combined for over 2,200 yards and 20 touchdowns.  The backs had their fair share of explosive plays, which helped drive an offense that didn’t have quite the passing game it hoped with quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Panthers’ problems came on defense when they were prone to giving up the explosive plays and ranked 106th in Bill Connelly’s Isolated Points Per Play metric with 1.26.

As you can see, that’s not good news against a Cardinal offense that ranked 19th with a similar metric of 1.28. The Cardinal faded away from the limelight following a 4-0 start when they coughed up four losses in a five-game skid. But Shaw’s team finished strong with three straight wins heading into the Sun Bowl. Running back Bryce Love didn’t have the Heisman-caliber season that we had hoped for, but quarterback K.J. Costello stepped up in his absence. Costello threw for 3,435 yards for the third-highest single season total in Stanford history, trailing just Andrew Luck and Steve Stenstrom. Costello must continue that kind of output in the Sun Bowl as Love decided to skip the Sun Bowl to prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Like the Panthers, the Cardinal have weak points of their own. This year, it was their defense. We’re used to seeing stout units from Shaw and company, but this year’s team ranked 51st in S&P+ and struggled against the run and pass. Still, Stanford has a slight edge in record against the spread as they’ve gone 6-3-1 as a favorite this season, while Pitt has gone just 5-4 as an underdog. I think the Panthers’ running game can prevent the Sun Bowl from getting out of hand, but I doubt the Panthers can stop the Cardinal’s passing attack.

Spartans and Ducks to meet on Monday in Redbox Bowl

Photo credit: pac-12.com

By Jeremy Kahn

SAN FRANCISCO — With bowl preparations all but done, it is time for the game for the 17th annual Redbox Bowl between the Michigan State Spartans and the Oregon Ducks.

The Spartans, coached by Mark Dantonio are looking to end the 2018 with a two-game winning streak, as they look for their second consecutive win in a bowl game.

It was on this date last year, the Spartans ended their 2017 season on a high note, as they defeated the Washington State Cougars 42-17 in the Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

This is the third time that the Spartans have finished their season in the state of California since the 2013 season.

It was on January 1, 2014 that the Spartans won their first Rose Bowl since 1988, when they came up with a huge defensive stop in defeating the Stanford Cardinal by the final score of 24-20.

Overall, this is the seventh time that the Spartans have made a bowl appearance in the State of California.

The Spartans are a perfect 6-0 in their previous bowl games in the Golden State, as they are 4-0 in the Rose Bowl, 1-0 in the aforementioned Holiday Bowl and 1-0 in the now defunct Silicon Valley Bowl.

In those six games, the Spartans are 4-0 against Pac-12 teams and 1-0 against teams from the Mountain West Conference.

This is the 10th time that the Spartans have played in the Bay Area, and the first since facing the CAL Golden Bears on August 30, 2008, where the Golden Bears defeated the Spartans 38-31 at Memorial Stadium.

The Spartans made their Bay Area debut against the University of San Francisco Dons, and went back to East Lansing with a 14-0 victory on November 27, 1937.

Almost two years later, the Spartans returned to the Bay Area, to face the Santa Clara Broncos; however, the Broncos defeated the Spartans 6- 0 on November 11, 1939.

On October 18, 1941, the Spartans once again faced the Broncos, and once again, the Broncos defeated the Spartans 7-0.

Seven years later, on November 27, 1948, the Spartans faced the Broncos for the final time and the game ended in a 21-21 tie.

Almost eight years later, on September 29, 1956, the 3rd ranked Spartans defeated the 12th ranked Stanford Indians (now Cardinal) 21-7 at Stanford Stadium.

Three hundred seventy-two days later, on October 5, 1957, the second ranked Spartans defeated the CAL Golden Bears 19-0 at Memorial Stadium.

In the next meeting between the Spartans and then Indians, Stanford upset the then sixth-ranked Spartans 16-13 on September 28, 1962.

The Spartans would not return to the Bay Area until they faced the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Silicon Valley Bowl on December 31, 2001 and lost to the Bulldogs 28-21 at Spartan Stadium on the campus of San Jose State University.

In their last trip to the Bay Area, the Golden Bears defeated the Spartans 38-31 under the lights at Memorial Stadium.

This season, the Spartans ended the regular season with a 7-5 record under Dantonio and are coming off a 14-10 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Spartan Stadium on November 24.

Eleven members of the Spartans team earned All-Big Ten honors, including first-team members in Junior Linebacker Joe Bachie, Sophomore Placekicker Matt Coghlin and Junior Defensive End Kenny Willekes.

The Spartans defense under Defensive Coordinator Mark Tressel, are ranked number one in the country in total rush defense, as they allow only 81.3 yards per game on the ground.

Brian Lewerke leads the Spartans offense, as the quarterback played in 10 games this season, as the redshirt Junior went 162-for-299 for 1,868 yards passing and also threw eight touchdowns, while he was picked off 10 times.

Senior Running back L.J. Scott will be playing in his final game for the Spartans, as he played in just four games and carried the ball 55 times for 180 yards.

Lewerke’s top target at wide receiver was Junior Wide Receiver Darrell Stewart, who hauled in 39 catches on the season. Cody White picked up the most yards thru the air, as he gained 491 yards.

Bachie was the team leader in tackles, as he picked up 94 tackles on the season and also intercepted one pass. Andrew Dowell was not far behind Bachie, as he ended the season with 90 tackles. Willekes led the Spartans in sacks, as he picked up 8.5 sacks in 12 games.

San Jose State podcast with Ana Kieu: Football coaching staff shakeup; Men’s basketball drops two road games

Photo credit: youtube.com and @SJSUMBB

On the San Jose State podcast with Ana Kieu:

1. Linebackers coach Bojay Filimoeatu left SJSU to return to his alma mater, Utah State, on the same day of the Spartans’ Early National Signing Day. Filimoeatu was replaced by Scott White.

2. Two State Champion recruits, Adi Anderson and Stan Livingstone Jr., look to turn around SJSU football.

3. Anderson was among the dozens of players who were named to the all-Bay Area News Group football team.

4. After winning two straight home games, the Spartans’ men’s basketball team lost two in a row on the road. Can they turn things around at Saint Mary’s this Saturday?

Ana Kieu does the San Jose State podcasts each week for SportsRadioService.com

Plenty of good news for San Jose State this holiday season

Photo credit: @SJSUSpartanFB

By: Ana Kieu

San Jose State football and men’s basketball may not garner as much attention as they’d like from the general public, but these are still two NCAA and Mountain West programs that still need to be covered, so here we go…

First off, SJSU men’s basketball is set to return to action on Saturday, Dec. 29 against Saint Mary’s. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 pm.

Secondly, SJSU football is receiving its fair share of good news, which is great to say the least.

Senior kicker Bryce Crawford, who was the Spartans’ No. 1 placekicker and punter in the 2018 season, tweeted on Dec. 21 that he was excited to sign with Off Tackle Sports. Congratulations to the Wuerffel Trophy Semifinalist! Oh yeah, and good luck on the potential Wuerffel Trophy victory! Bring the Wuerffel Trophy to San Jose, Calif. to show the Bay Area that underrated FBS players can excel in athletics, academics and community service!

This name may sound unfamiliar, but freshman wide receiver Leki Nunn celebrated his birthday on Christmas Eve. Nunn, a San Mateo, Calif. native, attended Serra High School, where he became one of the top all-around players in Northern California. In 2016, Nunn was the starting quarterback for Serra H.S. when the Padres advanced to the CIF Division 2A State Championship Game under head football coach Patrick Walsh.

Lastly, both the men’s and women’s student-athletes celebrated Christmas Eve in a positive way. The student-athletes gave back to the local community by dropping off all the Spartan Athletics’ teams’ toy donations from their respective home games to Rubenstein Supply Co. and Toys for Tots. God bless these student-athletes.

Merry Christmas, Spartan Nation! Catch my SJSU podcast on Thursday and SJSU men’s basketball coverage on Saturday. Feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @AnaKieu if you haven’t already done so.

San Jose State names Scott White as new linebackers coach

Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com

By: Ana Kieu

Scott White, a 2018 San Jose State Spartans football staff analyst, accepted a promotion to linebackers coach on Thursday. Brent Brennan, the Spartans football head coach, made the announcement.

White brings 10 seasons of college coaching and noteworthy recruiting experiences to his new position with Spartans. Most notably, he was a UCLA football assistant for eight seasons (2010-17) who worked with head coaches Rick Neuheisel and Jim Mora, Jr.

“We are very excited about Scott White taking over as our new linebackers coach. He is a young coach with a lot of energy and knowledge that comes from his days at UCLA,” says Brennan.

“He’s also an outstanding recruiter. During his time at UCLA, he successfully recruited the best high school and junior college student-athletes and then nurtured, developed and molded them into NFL players over and over again.”

White was a quality control coach for the Bruins’ defense and special teams during the 2010-12 seasons, promoted to linebackers coach in 2013, and promoted again in 2015 to special teams coordinator/linebackers coach for the next three seasons.

He coached some of the nation’s top linebackers at UCLA. Eric Kendricks, currently with the Minnesota Vikings, was the 2014 Butkus Award and Lott Impact Trophy winner. In 2013, current Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack became the first player in Pac-12 Conference history to be named the conference’s “Freshman of the Year” on offense and defense. Anthony Barr, the Vikings’ 2014 first-round draft choice, was a first-team All-America and finalist for the 2013 Butkus Award.

As a special teams coordinator, he oversaw the growth of UCLA kicker Kaimi Fairbairn, the 2015 Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicking Award winner and current placekicker for the Houston Texans.

One of the top college recruiters nationally, he was recognized by 247Sports as its 2016 Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year. That same year, Rivals.com named him to its list of National Top-25 Recruiters.

The 2006 graduate of the University of Washington was a four-year starter on the 2003-06 Huskies teams. He was a team captain and second-team All-Pac 10 Conference linebacker as a senior.

He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Seattle Prep School in 2007. After two seasons, White was named the linebackers coach at Central Washington University for the 2009 season. The Wildcats posted a 12-1 win-loss record, were #1 in scoring defense, #3 in rushing defense and #4 in passing defense among all NCAA Division II schools.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be here, represent San Jose State University, work with this staff and these great kids,” says White, who replaces Bojay Filimoeatu, who was recently named to the Utah State coaching staff.

San Jose State gets a bunch of work done on Early National Signing Day

Photo credit: sjsuspartans.com

By: Ana Kieu

The San Jose State University football team added unprecedented firepower to its offense and passionate playmakers to its defense at the start of the early National Letter of Intent signing period for the 2019 season.

For the first time, SJSU signed a quarterback that passed for more than 100 touchdowns and 10,000 yards in a high school career, inked a running back prospect who rushed for more than 50 touchdowns as a junior and a senior, and added four players that averaged more than 20 yards a catch in their senior seasons. Two of those big play pass catchers are heading to the defensive side, according to Spartans head coach Brent Brennan.

“I was showing our players this week the highlight tapes of these players and they were blown away how good they are. This group of playmakers makes us all excited about what we’re doing for the future,” says Brennan, who is entering his third season as the Spartans’ head coach.

“We’re adding some great young men to our program. Part of our criteria is figuring out if they love football, how hard they work, digging and diving into their character. All the assistant coaches did a great job putting this group together. It’s got a nice mix of young playmakers on offense to balance out some of our skill positions that are currently manned by upperclassmen.”

“And we were able to add some good pieces in terms of the physical part of the game in the offensive line and linebacker.”

13 players signed to become a member of the SJSU program as early as the 2019 spring semester. Nine of them are slated for offensive positions, two are linebacker candidates, and two are ticketed to defensive back roles. Current tight end Derrick Deese, Jr., who redshirted the 2018 season, signed a SJSU scholarship offer.

Quarterback Alec Trujillo completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 11,671 yards and 116 touchdowns and ran for 19 touchdowns in one of the most productive high school careers in California’s Central Section first for Exeter High and then for San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno, which played in the 2018 CIF Division 2-A championship game. He threw 50 touchdown passes in his senior year alone.

“Alec has been an incredible player throughout his career and it’s exciting he’s chosen to be with us. We identified him early in the recruiting process. He throws a fantastic ball. He’s got good feet. He just lit it up throwing for San Joaquin Memorial,” said Brennan.

Running back Adi Anderson from McClymonds High in Oakland is one of two Spartan signees to return home with a 2018 CIF state championship. He averaged 10.8 yards per carry on just over eight carries a game and still rushed for 21 touchdowns as a senior. That was on top of the 31 rushing touchdowns he scored the year before playing for Hayward’s Moreau Catholic High.

Wide receivers Malikhi Miller of El Cerrito High, Isaiah Holiness of Redlands East Valley High and Jamar Simpson of Rancho Verde High, earned reputations as touchdown terrors to their opponents. Miller averaged nearly 29 yards a reception in his last two high school seasons and scored a touchdown about once every third time he caught a pass.

Holiness caught 163 passes for 2,293 yards and 18 touchdowns and was even more dangerous as a return specialist. He averaged 47.4 yards a kickoff return and 30.7 in three varsity seasons. As a senior, Simpson averaged 27.4 yards a catch and scored 13 times on just 36 receptions.

“You’re always looking for guys who can change a game when the ball is in their hands. At almost 11 yards a carry, obviously good things happen when Adi gets the ball. We’re hoping he can be a home run hitter for us. Jamar Simpson has great acceleration, great playmaking ability,” says Brennan.

“You watch Malikhi’s tape. He’s got this great young body and I think he can be that big body wideout who can control a game with. Isaiah Holiness is a slash type of player. He’s dynamic as a runner, receiver, and he’s returned kicks for touchdowns.”

“I’m excited there are so many guys who signed with us that played in (high school) state championship games. They come from winning programs. They know what it takes to win.”

Trujillo, Anderson, defensive back candidate Stan Livingstone, and offensive linemen Jelani Newman from Saguaro High, and first-team California Community College All-America Scott Breslin from Ventura College are incoming Spartans that played in a 2018 state championship game.

Offensive linemen Justin Scrempos from Milpitas High and graduate transfer Quinn Oseland from the University of Minnesota are two more signees to play on state championship teams. Scrempos was a force on the 2017 Vikings that won the CIF Division 4A Championship, averaging 41.1 points a game. Oseland played on two Sacred Heart Griffin High, Class 5A state championship teams.

Cameron Hanson from Southwestern College, a second-team All-Southern Conference selection and two-time bowl game winner, and Jordan Cobbs, credited with 26.0 tackles for loss his last two seasons at San Leandro High, are a pair of linebackers joining the Spartans.

Safety B.J. Johnson, the 2018 Redwood League Co-MVP from Montgomery High, rounds out SJSU’s signees on the first day of the current NIH signing period.

“The recruiting process has really changed with the early signing date. The coaching staff did a great job being organized at the end of the season. We spent a lot of time during the season recruiting, watching film, calling, texting and being on social media with recruits, writing letters, continuing to build relationships because the early signing day has been moved up six weeks,” concluded Brennan, who will have Livingstone and Oseland available to participate in 2019 spring practice set to begin on March 3.

San Jose State podcast with Ana Kieu: Thoughts on Early National Signing Day; Men’s basketball loses to Stanford on Tuesday night

Photo credit: @SJSUSpartanFB and sjsuspartans.com

On the San Jose State podcast with Ana:

1. Early National Signing Day began this morning. Have any football players caught your undivided attention?

2. Location appears to important as SJSU has been dubbed the No. 1 underrated school in America in more ways than one on Forbes’ most recent list of underrated colleges and universities.

3. SJSU men’s basketball wrapped up its homestand vs. Northern Arizona last Saturday night.

4. SJSU played Stanford last night and will take on Cal on Friday.

Ana does the San Jose State podcasts each week for SportsRadioService.com

The Bryce Love era comes to an end at Stanford

Photo credit: @NFL

By: Ana Kieu

Stanford Cardinal running back Bryce Love had a difficult season and it has finally come to an end. Love announced on Monday that he’ll skip the Sun Bowl to prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

This season, Love was one of the Cardinal’s captains, but he had to battle ankle and leg injuries. He played in 10 games, where he rushed for 739 yards and 6 touchdowns. Despite the injury bugs, he was named a Pac-12 Honorable Mention.

In 2017, Love became one of the NCAA’s breakout stars when he rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had a historic season that included 12 efforts of 100-plus yards, including a 301-yard performance against Arizona State.

Before the season, Love told Yahoo! Sports: “As a player, I felt like I could improve on a lot of different aspects of my game. Above all else, I just wanted the opportunity to compete with my teammates one last time. … I wanted to win games. I wasn’t really satisfied with how we played last year. On top of that, I get to graduate and be able to concentrate fully on football at the next level.”

Love is a human biology manager who is on track to graduate this month. He wants to attend medical school after earning his bachelor’s degree. He’s more than a talented running back, he’s also an aspiring pediatrician. He’s a man of many talents, which can come in handy in case if he has to come up with a backup plan in life.

San Jose State Athletics on a better path

Photo credit: @will_brocchini

By: Ana Kieu

You probably saw how awful San Jose State football and men’s basketball has looked in the past year, but it looks like both programs are on a better path.

When it comes to football, the Spartans’ football coaching staff has been fairly busy in holding meetings and trying to attract high school and college football players to commit to San Jose State. Most recently, B.J. Johnson–a Montgomery High School athlete from Santa Rosa, Calif.–committed to SJSU just two days after officially visiting the school. Moreover, Chad Earle–a East Los Angeles College cornerback from Monterey Park, Calif.–received an offer from SJSU.

When it comes to men’s basketball, the Spartans put together two wins in a row. The first win came on Dec. 6 when SJSU defeated Bethune Cookman 67-65 inside the Event Center. The second win came on Dec. 15 when SJSU ran away with a 79-74 win over Northern Arizona inside the Event Center. This was a great way for the Spartans to wrap up their four-game homestand in San Jose, Calif.

After the SJSU-NAU game, Spartans head coach Jean Prioleau said: “I don’t think they’ll be any pressure. I think our guys will be really excited. We played a lot of games so far where we have a quick turnaround. Tomorrow, we’re going to practice as well as Monday, and we’re going to play on Tuesday. Then, we play again on Friday. So I don’t think the guys are going to be too concerned about pressure at all.”

Prioleau added: “We’ve been in a lot of close games where we’ve been pressured enough. So I think our guys will be ready to play and they’ll be excited to play.”

Now, the Spartans may face bigger challenges as their upcoming Pac-12 opponents are Stanford and Cal on Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, respectively. Both games will be featured on the Pac-12 Network. Since I asked Prioleau about pressure on Saturday, I’m well-aware that Prioleau hasn’t really expressed nervousness about the upcoming three-game road trip that ends at St. Mary’s on Dec. 29, but they’re other Bay Area teams and they’re likely not going to play nice, so the Spartans have to hold great, high-quality practices on the practice court the next two weeks.