Spartans expect a battle from UND in season opener

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said his team is focusing inward in preparation for the season opener at 9 p.m. Thursday against the University of North Dakota.

SAN JOSE, Calif. - San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said his team is focusing inward in preparation for the season opener at 9 p.m. Thursday against the University of North Dakota.
Still, it’s clear Caragher has done his homework when it comes to his Week 1 opponent.
During a conference call for his weekly media availability, Caragher easily rattled off UND’s recent past with FBS programs in California.
“They’ve played California schools and really battled to the end,” Caragher said. “In 2011, they played Fresno State and lost by five points. Just two years ago, San Diego State had to hold them off 49-41.”
“(UND) will be excited. In this day and age of college football you have to bring your ‘A’ game every week.”
Caragher was well-versed in the background of the new UND coaching staff. He mentioned offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph was at NCAA Division II Minot State last season and defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt was with head coach Bubba Schweigert at Southern Illinois in 2013.
Caragher even knew UND’s special teams coordinator, Shawn Kostich, was at Minnesota last season. The Gophers beat San Jose 43-24 last year.
“It’s hard to follow personnel (with UND’s roster and coaching staff turnover),” Caragher said. “It is a challenge with a first-year coaching staff and their diverse backgrounds. You have to do your due diligence to guesstimate the type of schemes they’ll use on offense, defense and special teams. You have to be prepared for different things to come your way.”
Caragher also noted UND’s size on the offensive line and highlighted the play of left guard Brandon Anderson, who has started 22 consecutive games and was named honorable mention all-Big Sky in 2013.
“They’re probably bigger than our offensive line,” Caragher said. “Brandon Anderson is really a good-sized, strong, athletic young man who could play lots of places.”
Caragher admitted he doesn’t know exactly what to expect from the UND offense, led by Rudolph’s play-calling. However, he noted UND named fullback Dwayne Pecosky a team captain.
“That makes you think they want to be a physical team,” he said. “Today’s day and age, you don’t see fullbacks play much in a spread, diverse offense. That might tell you the personality of this team. We’ll have to be prepared.”
San Jose’s top back to sit out opener
San Jose State leading rusher Jarrod Lawson will serve the first game of a two-game suspension against UND.
Lawson, who was suspended for a violation of team rules, rushed for 788 yards and caught 20 passes for another 233 yards. Sophomore Thomas Tucker is expected to start in his place.
“This is about preparing young men for life,” Caragher said. “If as educators, we let this go by, we fail. It is what it is, and we look forward to his return.”
Spartans have new look under center
San Jose will start fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Jurich, who won the starting job in fall camp over backup Joe Gray.
The Spartans are attempting to replace 2013 quarterback David Fales, who was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft by the Chicago Bears.
“I’m excited to see how he comes out and plays,” Caragher said. “Spartan fans have to be excited to see a guy put so much into it and get a chance as a fifth-year senior. We look forward to it, but it’s not all on his shoulders. He has to be able to help distribute and help carry the workload.”

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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