Utah wraps up non conference play on Saturday evening against the San Jose State Spartans. Earlier this week we previewed the Spartans defense. Today let's look at the offense and what Utah can expect.
The San Jose State offense is led by offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Al Borges. The name might sound familiar because Borges has been around, coaching at Oregon, UCLA, Cal, San Diego State and Michigan. He is a well respected offensive mind and has a good track record of developing quarterbacks specifically.
Enter Kenny Potter, San Jose State's starting quarterback. Potter is a senior in his second season with the Spartans after transferring from Long Beach City College in 2015. One week after having to deal with Taysom Hill, the Utes will get another duel threat quarterback to defend. Last season Potter accounted for 22 total touchdowns, 15 through the air and 7 on the ground.
This season has been a mixed bag through two games. Potter struggled against Tulsa, completing under 60% of his passes and throwing an interception while being held to -1 yards rushing. He rebounded nicely against Portland State last week, completing 70% of his passes, throwing 3 touchdowns and running for 2 more. Potter is the point man for the Spartan offense and he will be focus number one for the Utah defense on Saturday.
In the backfield, the Spartans are relying on senior Deontae Cooper as their feature back. Cooper has been around a while, getting his start at Washington way back in 2010. Yes, you read that correctly, Cooper was a freshman seven years ago. He spent six seasons at Washington missing three consecutive seasons with acl tears, earning medical hardship waivers for each year. A highly touted prospect coming out of high school, Cooper is not what he used to be after all the injuries, but is still dangerous as evidenced by last week's 126 yard performance. He is very quick and runs smoothly with the speed to break it if given room. Behind Cooper, freshman Zamore Zigler is also a threat, running for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns last week.
The receiving group might be the strength of the offense however. Tre Hartley, Justin Holmes and Rashead Johnson lead the team in receiving yards. It is an athletic group, with each Hartley, Holmes and Johnson averaging over 20 yards per reception with a touchdown each this season. At tight end, senior Billy Freeman is solid underneath, averaging 13.25 yards per reception with 1 touchdown this season.
The biggest area of weakness for the Spartan offense is on the offensive line. Against Tulsa they allowed four sacks, and they were not great against Portland State. Even if the Spartan skill players all play to their best ability, the trenches will be the Spartans undoing against the Utes. Lowell Lotulelei, Hunter Dimck and others will overwhelm an out manned Spartan offensive line. Utah is the toughest defense San Jose State will see this season and definitely the best defensive front they will face. For Utah this will help the staff with replacing Kylie Fitts who was lost for the season against BYU. Players like Bradlee Anae and Chris Hart will get to see live reps against a less than formidable opponent and get some experience heading toward Pac-12 play.
San Jose State has some weapons and may be able to put some points on the scoreboard early, however the Utah defense will eventually wear down the Spartan offensive line. I don't see much running room for Cooper, and Potter will have Utah players in his face all day. Don't expect the Spartans to match the 66 point output they had last week. If Tulsa held the San Jose State to 10 points in the opener, I can't see the Spartans doing any better against Utah.