Stanford comes into their first game of the season amid sky high expectations and an eight game winning streak. San Jose State enters their second game of the season with no expectations and an eight game winning streak. Yup, you read that right, both San Jose State and Stanford have eight game winning streaks heading into the Bill Walsh Legacy Game on Saturday night. While the Spartans are 26 ½ point underdogs and are overlooked by almost everyone outside of San Jose, they are definitely not overlooked by Stanford.
“David Fales is a very good quarterback. Fales got all his top receivers back. We’re going to have to bring our A game against San Jose State,” said Stanford safety Ed Reynolds.
Although the annual game between San Jose State and Stanford is called the Bill Walsh Legacy Game, former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh has his footprint all over this game. Not only did Harbaugh coach at Stanford, but he also coached at the University of San Diego. Both David Shaw and Ron Caragher replaced Harbaugh as a head coach (Caragher at USD and Shaw at Stanford).
“Both David (Shaw) and I have something in common as we filled some big shoes. Jim (Harbaugh) is something else, he is a special coach and his whole personality is great stuff. I’m sure David and I can share some good stories,” boasted Caragher.
When I asked David Shaw about Harbaugh’s presence in the Bill Walsh Legacy Game, Shaw replied “Jim of course left an attitude and mentality which are great but I think the players on both teams have a hand in the success that we both have right now.”
There are also former USD coaches on both sides, including new San Jose State offensive coordinator Jimmy Dougherty.
“Jimmy Dougherty is a great young coach, I said the other day that I believe Jimmy (Dougherty) is going to be a head coach someday,” proclaimed Shaw.
In order for the Spartans to have a chance to shock the college football world, quarterback David Fales must have a monster performance. Last week, Fales looked uncomfortable in the pocket and had an uneven performance against the FBS Sacramento State Hornets. Fales must target more than Chandler Jones and Noel Grigsby who he relied on too much last week.
It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson’s new hybrid defense matches up against the power run game of Stanford. While inside linebacker Keith Smith will once again be a monster at making tackles, new outside linebackers Eugene Taylor and Sean Bacon must have big games for the Spartans to have any chance of stopping the vaunted Stanford running game.
“We feel that stopping the run is always the number one challenge. We feel that we have some stuff ready to stop Stanford’s running game,” replied Thompson on the challenges of stopping Stanford’s offense.
Both teams want this budding rivalry to continue beyond this year as the rivalry is expected to expire after this game. While Cal will always be Stanford’s number one rival, San Jose State has proven to be a tough foe over the last couple of seasons.
“I think San Jose State is definitely a rival. It’s to the point that we know them and they know us. We have a lot of mutual respect between us. San Jose State’s cornerback Bene (Benwikere) is such a great player and I had a chance to talk to him in the off-season. People definitely sleep on San Jose State but we understand how good of a football team they are and on Saturday we plan on giving them our best,” exclaimed Stanford safety Ed Reynolds.
Last season’s Bill Walsh Legacy Game went down to the wire as Stanford barely topped San Jose State. Expect another classic battle between the two Silicon Valley schools. If San Jose State can stop the run and David Fales has a huge performance, don’t be surprised if the Spartans are the team to walk away with their ninth straight win on Saturday night.