For San Jose State University football head coach Ron Caragher, the success of his offensive and defensive units during the 2015 Spring Game was tied to starting field position.
The offense scored five touchdowns and a field goal, but only finished one 80-yard possession with a touchdown when quarterback Kenny Potter, a junior college transfer from Long Beach City College connected with a wide-open Thomas Tucker in the left flat for a 21-yard touchdown pass play. An Austin Lopez 26-yard field goal was the only other score produced by an offense that gained 390 yards, 129 rushing and 261 passing.
The 77-play situational scrimmage included possessions from both sides of the field, red zone plays and two-minute drills.
"It was good. I saw a great interception by Owen Roberts. He made a really nice return and almost scored a touchdown. I saw a nice interception by Maurice McKnight, being physical going up and getting the ball," said head coach Ron Caragher when asked for a first impression synopsis.
"And, I saw some good scrambles by the quarterbacks. The run game clicked pretty good. The passing game was solid. It wasn't as scripted, but guys are playing hard. They are trying to defend and fight to get on the depth chart.
"I thought it was a really good scrimmage. My best part of it is there are situations you can talk on the chalkboard, but they don't get to experience until they come up. So, the end-of-the-game situation was a great learning situation for our quarterbacks and a great job by the defense for never quitting and giving up on the goal line."
The defense came up with interceptions by defensive tackle Owen Roberts and safety Maurice McKnight and seven quarterback sacks. McKnight's interception came in the end zone to thwart a red zone drive. Roberts read a screen pass attempt and nearly scored for the defense rumbling 40 yards to the offense's 5-yard line.
The defense added seven quarterback sacks and a goal line stand to end the scrimmage to its ledger. Roberts assisted on two sacks. Linebacker Christian Tago and defensive end Eugene Taylor each had two unassisted sacks.
Four quarterbacks saw action starting with returning Joe Gray who completed 9-of-11 passes for 104 yards and a 15-yard TD pass to Jourdan Soares during the second-half two-minute drill. Junior college transfer Kenny Potter had a hand in three touchdown drives starting with the touchdown pass to Tucker and adding a red-zone series 4-yard scoring toss to wide receiver Justin Holmes. Potter also improvised for a 3-yard touchdown run capping a 40-yard drive.
All-Mountain West wide receiver Tyler Winston led all players with five receptions. The four San Jose State quarterbacks found 13 different pass catchers. The running backs accounted for five receptions; tight ends, four; and the remaining 15 to six wide receivers.
The Spartans still have six practice opportunities when classes resume on March 30 after a week off for Spring Break. The team's final practice is on April 10.
Rushing (41 attempts, 129 yards, 2 TDs):
Thomas Tucker, 3-41; Tyler Ervin, 6-31; Jarrod Lawson, 6-23; Kenny Potter, 3-14, 1 TD; Malik Watson, 7-12; Ray Lomas, IV, 4-6; Brandon Monroe, 4-5; Darrion Hancock, 1-4, 1 TD; Thai Cottrell, 1-3; Joe Gray, 5-(-3); Ian Fieber, 1-(-7).
Passing: (24-36-2-261 yards, 3 TDs)
Receiving (24 receptions, 261 yards., 3 TDs)
Tyler Winston, 5-34; Jourdan Soares, 3-33, 1 TD; Hansell Wilson, 2-45; Justin Holmes, 2-26, 1 TD; Thomas Tucker, 2-23, 1 TD; Billy Freeman, 2-16; Stephan Daniels, 2-13; Andrew Vollert, 1-20; LeVander Moore, 1-17; Tyler Ervin, 1-13; Ray Lomas, IV, 1-9; Jarrod Lawson, 1-6; Chris Kearney, 1-6.
QB Sacks (7.0 - 43 yards)
Interceptions (2 for 40 yards)
Punting (5 for 249 yards)
Michael Carrizosa, 5-249-49.8 avg.
Placekicking (9 points)
Austin Lopez, 6-6 PAT; 1-1 FG (26)
Austin Lopez, 26-yard field goal