What: Portland State (1-0) at San Jose State (0-1)
Where: Spartan Stadium (30,456), San Jose, CA
When: Sat., Sept. 10, 1:30 p.m. PT
TV/Radio: No TV; Rip City Radio 620 AM (Tom Hewitt and Mike Lund); Live video stream at www.livestream.com/mwn
Watching video this week, Portland State head coach Bruce Barnum realized San Jose State enjoyed an edge over his team in the speed department. So, he spent most of the week figuring out ways to neutralize SJSU’s advantage in that rea.
His solution? Spearheaded by quarterback Alex Kuresa and running back Nate Tago, the Vikings will seek to accomplish what they do best – run the football. Makes sense since San Jose State allowed 305 rushing yards to Tulsa last weekend in a 45-10 loss.
“They are a faster football team than we are, so we’ll have to adjust to that,” Barnum said. “We’ll go down there and play our game and give them a fight, win or lose, for 60 minutes. We’re going to hit them in the mouth. We have to run the football down there. They’ll do everything in their power to stop it. Defensively, we have to keep everything in front us. We have a couple of guys that might be as fast as they are, so we’ll try to utilize them in certain situations.”
Oregon transfer Chris Seisay could make his Portland State debut Saturday after joining the Vikings in late August. Kahlil Dawson, probably the fastest player on the Vikings until Seisay showed up, should be heavily utilized as well.
“You’ll see him (Seisay) at receiver this week,” Barnum said. “He’s a guy that showed up from Oregon. He’s pretty fast. Kahlil Dawson is back and he was the fastest guy on our team. We’ll pick our spots and try to hit them, try to get their eyes wrong with some play-action stuff and get guys open. That’s the fun part. That’s why we do this. We know their strengths and weaknesses and try to take advantage of them.”
Regardless of Portland State’s success last season against FBS foes, the teams at that level are expected by fans and administrators to post a convincing win when they face a FCS school. When a FBS team loses to a FCS school, the result generates national headlines and makes athletic directors irate. A year ago, the North Texas AD stormed into the Mean Green’s locker room about an hour after PSU’s thunderous 66-7 win and fired the head coach on the spot.
“The physical prep doesn’t change,” Barnum said. “The mental side is fun. That’s why I like to watch the Star Wars Trilogy. I’m just trying to get everybody thinking the same way and throw in a little Yoda and the Force and all that. This week, we’ll make a run at them. They have some holes we hope to exploit. We’ll show up, that’s for sure.
“But we’re supposed to lose this game, that’s why they pay us. We have to make sure we don’t lose this game before we get there. I think that happens a lot. Some coaches lose these type of games on Monday when they talk to their football team. We won’t let that happen here. We’re going to get better and go make a run at them.”
While Portland State emerged from the season opener against Division II Central Washington, the video should have afforded Barnum and his staff plenty of teaching moments. After all, the Vikings did not force a turnover by CWU (PSU had 28 takeaways and a plus-13 turnover margin in 2015), amassed 96 penalty yards (more than any game last season) and CWU’s 321 passing yards allowed were the second most in Bruce Barnum’s 13-game head coaching tenure.
— Mike Lund (@mikelund65) September 9, 2016
— Portland State left for San Jose, CA on Thursday after practicing at 7 a.m. The Vikings stopped at the Wildlife Safari park in Winston, Ore. and In-and-Out Burgers before crossing the border into California. After the game, PSU will bus to Sacramento and stay in California’s Capital City Saturday night before busing back to Portland Sunday.
— San Jose State is a member of the Mountain West Conference. Head Coach Ron Caragher is 15-23 in four seasons at San Jose State. The Spartans have 17 returning starters and 39 returning letterwinners from last year’s 6-7 team.
— MILESTONES: Tago eclipsed 1,000 career rushing yards in the win over Central Washington. He now has 1,127 yards and 15 touchdowns on 237 career carries. Tago has played in 33 games with five starts. Kuresa surpassed 2,000 career passing yards against Central Washington. He now has 2,197 passing yards in 13 games as a Viking. Kuresa has completed 139-252 passes with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
— Portland State is 4-32 all-time against FBS programs dating back to 1968. However, the Vikings were 2-0 against FBS teams in 2015, picking up wins over Washington State (24-17) and North Texas (66-7) last fall. PSU faces FBS opponents the next two weeks. The Vikings meet nationally ranked Washington of the Pac-12 Conference for only the second time in history.