USC vs. San Jose State: Get To Know The Trojans

USC vs. San Jose State: Get To Know The Trojans

Mountain West Football

USC vs. San Jose State: Get To Know The Trojans


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USC vs. San Jose State: Get To Know The Trojans

What should Spartans know about playing USC

Contact/Follow @JeremyMauss & @MWCwire

We asked the tough questions.

San Jose State’s real test of the season is this Saturday as they go down on the road to take on USC. This is going to be the most talented team that the Spartans play all year and the defending Mountain West champions want to make a point against USC.

To get to know who the USC Trojans are, we chat with Matt Zemek who is the editor of Trojans Wire and asked him a series of questions.

1. From an outsider’s perspective, how seriously should USC, or other teams take San Jose State which has been usually at the bottom of the Mountain West for a better part of a decade?

USC should take San Jose State very seriously. Part of this is that every team should take every opponent seriously, but when a program lifts itself from mediocrity and obscurity and goes unbeaten in the Mountain West Conference, that’s an eye-grabbing development. Should other Mountain West teams assume SJSU will regress this year? Heck, no! That’s not the right competitive posture.

Other teams need to enter this season thinking they will need to elevate their game, just as the Spartans did last year. Keep in mind that San Diego State’s erosion on offense (chiefly in the passing game) and Fresno State’s coaching transitions in recent years have destabilized the West Division in the MWC. No team in that division should assume it will reclaim it from San Jose State. Teams will have to earn their way into the conference championship game. I expect the Spartans to put up a good fight in their title defense.

2. SJSU QB Nick Starkel has finally found success now in his third FBS school with 2020’s massive season. Is he a quarterback that can move the ball and score points against USC’s defense?

Nick Starkel was playing an FCS cupcake this past weekend, but he threw for a zillion yards in one half. That’s what a top QB should do. Yeah, the accuracy wasn’t quite there, but that’s partly a product of Week 1 rust and developing relationships with new receivers. The main thing for Starkel against USC is that he needs protection. USC has big weaknesses — its head coach and its offensive line (which flows into its rushing attack) — but the defensive line is a legitimate strength. Korey Foreman might be a freshman, but he was the cream of the crop on the recruiting trail, and he impressed in summer camp.

USC defensive coordinator Todd Orlando liked what he saw from this position group in summer camp. If SJSU can’t protect Starkel, his arm strength won’t be able to become a factor in this game. That’s one of the two central keys to this contest, the other being the Spartans’ ability to expose USC’s offensive line and bother Kedon Slovis.


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