USC Vs SJSU: Get To Know The Spartans

Justin Urgo
USC Football 2021 Fall Camp. Photo Credit: John McGillen/USC Athletics
USC Football 2021 Fall Camp. Photo Credit: John McGillen/USC Athletics

Trojans vs Spartans, no I’m not talking about the battle of Troy in the 13th century BC. I’m talking about week one this Saturday against the San Jose State Spartans. Even though history has shown us that the Trojan army had indeed been defeated, that may not be the case this weekend.

USC vs SJSU Get To Know The Spartans

I’m sure some of you may remember the last time they met at the coliseum in 2009 where true freshman Matt Barkley led the Trojans to an easy 56-3 win. Although those were good times, nowadays the Spartans have turned completely the program around.

After head coach Brett Brennan took over in 2017, the program had never had over 5 wins a season, let alone losing 11 games in back-to-back seasons. That all changed when in 2020, Coach Brennan led the Spartans to a record of 7-0 in the conference and would be eligible for the Arizona Bowl game.

Sure they got steamrolled by Ball State to end the year, but, to go from losing 11 games a year to being undefeated in the conference is something to be aware of. The team is clicking and there are no signs of slowing down.

San Jose Looks To Repeat Last Years Offensive Success

If there’s one person the Trojans need to worry about its former transfer QB Nick Starkel who’s spent time at Texas A&M and Arkansas before finding a home with San Jose. Last week he threw for almost 400 yards and 4 TDs against Southern Utah.

USC is certainly better than Southern Utah but they’d be foolish to think this is the same old SJSU who struggled to score points. The Spartans are tied with a familiar foe in Fresno State for the number one offense in the teams who’ve played thus far in 2021.

There is no shortage of experience as San Jose returns 19 of their starters from last year. The two they did lose ended up being their two best receivers Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither who received 47% of the completions last year.

Junior Isaiah Hamilton and the two-headed monster, Derrick Deese Jr and Sam Olson, will look to maintain that production.

The Best Defense In The Mountain West

Senior MWC Defensive Player of the year Cade Hall and talented Sophomore Villami Fehoko make up the best defensive line in their conference. Hall ended up notching 10 sacks last year which was ranked second in the nation.

It’s no secret the strength of this team is their D-line but their defense as a whole is extremely well rounded and consistent. Defensive coordinator Derrick Odum took them from being ranked from 106th to the top 20.

The Spartans return 10 of 11 starters, losing their Safety Tre Webb, as he transferred to Montana State. Former Tulsa transfer Ryan Nixon quickly replaced the experience they needed on the back end.

Despite the overall defensive success, the weak spot on defense would be the secondary and the lack of turnovers. In 2020, San Jose State only recorded three interceptions and five fumble recoveries.

Odum will have to rely on his pass rush to get home if his secondary can’t effectively defend the pass.

Featured Photo Credit: John McGillen/USC Athletics