Rainy, wet conditions on tap for tonight's BYU-San Jose State football game
Good afternoon from rainy, soggy, overcast San Jose. The BYU football team (6-4) will take on 8-2 San Jose State here at 30,000-seat Spartan Stadium in about eight hours. I just drove around the stadium, and it is as underwhelming as everyone says it is. BYU hasn't played here since 1968, and my guess is it will be another 44 years before the Cougars come back. Tonight's matchup was drawing quite a bit of talk on sports radio station KNBR 680 AM this morning, and they even had BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall on to talk about the showdown, along the SJSU tailback DeLeon Eskridge. However, the front page of the San Jose Mercury News sports section doesn't include a story on the game. Rather, the headline "BYU's defense will challenge Spartans" appears on page C7. Here's my preview of tonight's game, which takes a look at BYU's top-ranked defense and whether it can slow down a very good SJSU offense. If it can't, it could be a long, rainy night for the Cougars. It is actually a huge day for BYU sports, as the Cougars' women's soccer team takes on Marquette at South Field in an NCAA College Cup Sweet 16 game. BYU's men's basketball team takes on No. 20 Notre Dame in the consolation round of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. As you can read in Tribune sportswriter Martin Renzhofer's account, the Cougars were walloped 80-62 last night by Florida State. The Seminoles were No. 25 in the country last week before losing to South Alabama. - OK, time to clean out the ol' notebook with some of the better comments from earlier this week regarding tonight's football game. BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy on whether they can get pressure on SJSU QB David Fales: "I think it is good to get pressure, but at the same time, we want to play our game. Utah State had 13 sacks against them, so we want to get pressure, after watching that game. He hasn't been sacked in a couple games and hasn't thrown an interception. So I think if we get pressure on them, maybe a mistake or two will come out. He's a good quarterback. They have a pretty good O-line. But I think they have great skill positions." BYU linebacker Uona Kaveinga on SJSU passing so much: "You like to play against the run and you take pride in stopping the run. But to be a great defense, you have to play against everything, run and pass. I mean, this is a football game. They run and throw the ball. We will just try our best to run to the ball and execute the defensive play calls that are called."BYU QB Riley Nelson on the need to score quickly vs. SJSU: "No question with the way they throw the ball around and how potent their offense has been, if we can play well from the get-go and put up a touchdown or two, that first quarter, it will really set the tone for the game."Nelson on SJSU's ability to get sacks with superstar Travis Johnson: "I hope to do what USU did, and that's to get the ball out of my hands quickly and not allow them to get into their pass rush to a groove where they are feeling the pass rush is working."BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall on whether SJSU will max protect like OSU did and try to beat BYU with its athletes downfield:"They have a little bit of that. They did some against us a year ago. If they did, they would change the type of plays that they did. I am not sure if they think they need to do that against us. They have had enough success that maybe they think their normal stuff will work. They are very good at it. Whether they concede that they have to do something like that, I don't know. We have worked on it hard since Oregon State, so hopefully they are ready."Mendenhall on what the defense must do Saturday to be successful:"I would say just not giving up big plays. When San Jose State scores a lot, which they do in every game, almost always there are significant chunks, big plays involved. They might move the ball against everyone they play. Their scoring could be limited, based on the number of big plays they get, I think."