SAN JOSE (CBS SF)- It’s been an historic start to the season for the San Jose State Spartans. At 4-0, Brent Brennan’s team is off to the best start for the program since 1955. If the Spartans are able to beat Fresno State on Saturday, it would mark the first winning season for the program since 2012.
The Spartans defense has been a big part of the hot start, ranking 10th in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 15.2 points per game. Junior Fehoko and Cade Hall have led the way with a combined 12.5 tackles for loss. The Spartans are Top 40 against the run (131.5 YPG) and Top 50 against the pass (217.8 YPG). That defense will be tested this week by Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener.READ MORE: SF Restaurant Apologizes for Denying Service to Armed, On-Duty Police Officers
The junior struggled in his first outing, tossing three picks against Hawai’i. Since then, he’s been one of the hottest quarterbacks in football, tossing eight touchdowns and just one interception.
“He’s been tremendous. Jake Haener has really impressed me the last three ball games,” said CBS Sports Network analyst Kevin Carter.
The matchup of a red-hot Haener going against the stifling Spartans defense has Carter intrigued by this game heading into the weekend.READ MORE: International Travelers Brace For New COVID Testing Requirement
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“I’m looking at the Spartans defense…they’re the key in this one. Jake Haener is on fire right now and he’s really found a lot of confidence. He’s a dual threat guy that can tuck it down and run it. And he’s comfortable. His decision making process is really good. That’s the kind of thing that keeps drives going, keeps the defense on the field just a little bit too long. That’s what I’m looking at,” said Carter. “Jake Haener’s success is bucking up against this Spartans defense’s newfound success. Because if we’re going to take San Jose State’s success seriously, like the contending team they look to be, then this is a hurdle that they have to get over.”
The hurdle for San Jose State isn’t only on the defensive side. The Bulldogs defense has been one of the stronger units in the country against the pass (189 YPG, 20th). Spartans quarterback Nick Starkel has impressed thus far, completing 70 percent of his passes for 980 yards and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions. Wide receivers Bailey Gaither and Tre Walker have been his primary targets and they’ll have matchups to watch against the Bulldogs secondary.MORE NEWS: Northbound San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara Closed by 'Major Injury' Accident
If the Spartans can overcome the Bulldogs Saturday, it would mark their best start in 81 years when the Spartans went 13-0 in 1939 one of only two undefeated seasons in program history. Fans will get the opportunity to see the Spartans go for their fifth win of the year on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network.