Utah Utes football: Sad-sack Spartans reeling as Utes arrive

Published: Friday, Sept. 11 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

These aren't the best of times at San Jose State.

The Spartans enter Saturday's game against Utah on a four-game skid. Including 2008 losses to Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Fresno State, as well as a 56-3 setback to USC last weekend, they've been outscored by a whopping 142-30 margin.

In the midst of the futility, SJSU's offense has minus-19 yards rushing over its past three games.

The struggles followed a respectable 6-3 start last season.

"Obviously we've watched them on film and we notice statistics like that. But we take the idea that you prepare each week like you did the last," said Utah linebacker Mike Wright. "It doesn't matter who you're playing. Whether it's Utah State, San Jose State or Oregon, we're going to prepare the same way each and every week."

The Utes, he added, are carrying the mindset that they'd like to keep the Spartans in negative yardage rushing.

"We'll just go out there and do our best," added defensive end Koa Misi. "And hopefully keep them in the negative numbers."

For the record, though, SJSU did rush for positive yardage against USC — netting nine yards on 31 carries with two fumbles.

"Anybody that goes into Memorial Coliseum to play those guys is going to have a rough go," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted that the Spartans did hold a 3-0 lead over the Trojans after one quarter.

"Then it wasn't so good after that," he said. "But I tell you coach (Dick) Tomey is one of the best in the business and he will have those guys regrouped and ready to play. There's no doubt in my mind."

Tomey, who coached Hawaii and Arizona before landing as SJSU, is 4-0 in home openers with the Spartans. Among active coaches, his 181 career wins rank fourth.

"I've got the utmost respect for him," Whittingham said, "His teams are always well prepared."

Following the USC game, though, Tomey wasn't all that pleased with his team's performance — calling it only "a win for us on special teams."

Punter Phillip Zavala averaged 43.4 yards on 12 kicks.

There were other highlights as well.

"We showed the team (video) of the first 25 minutes and it was virtually dead even and we were driving," Tomey told the San Jose Mercury News. "Obviously the game changed completely. We didn't compete."

Running back Patrick Perry, who rushed for a team-high 48 yards, told the newspaper that Saturday's game against Utah is an opportunity for redemption.

And the Utes know it.

"They're a good team and they play hard," said quarterback Terrance Cain. "You can't take anybody lightly."

Utes on the air

No. 17 Utah (1-0) at San Jose State (0-1)

Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (MT)


Radio: 700AM

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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