The Spartan football team’s victory over the US Naval Academy marked the first time in school history it defeated a team in the Eastern time zone.
SJSU has a bye week to prepare for its homecoming game against Utah State University.
Head Coach Mike MacIntyre held his weekly news conference Monday to talk about the 12-0 win over the Midshipmen, awards and to preview the contest against the Aggies.
Senior defensive end Travis Johnson won the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) award for defensive player of the week for the second time this season.
Johnson also is one of the semifinalists for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award.
According to the National Football Foundation (NFF) website, the candidate must have at least a 3.2 GPA and have outstanding football ability and demonstrated strong leadership.
The Spartans (4-1) have now had a WAC award winner every week since the week two game against UC Davis.
Freshman kicker Austin Lopez was perfect on all field goals in last week’s game and was nominated for the special teams award.
Senior tight end Ryan Otten rounded out the player-of-the-week nominations on the offensive side.
Against Navy (1-3), Johnson had eight tackles, one and a half sacks and a forced fumble.
“I can’t say enough about what a phenomenal young man (Johnson) is,” MacIntyre said. “He’s the heart and soul of our defense and really sets the tone for us — he’s a phenomenal player.”
The Spartans didn’t have much trouble moving the ball against Navy, but settled for field goals the whole game.
The first three-pointer would turn out to be all that the Spartans needed, as SJSU shut out a team for the first time since the 2003 season.
“We were able to keep the Navy offense on the bench, and keep our defense fresh,” MacIntyre said. “Anytime you shut out someone is pretty amazing in today’s football with all the scoring points you see all the time.”
The game against Utah State (4-1) will represent the Spartan’s first competitor in the WAC division and, according to MacIntyre, the extra time off should help SJSU prepare for another team that is quickly ascending to the top of the standings in the division.
“We’re beat up a little bit. That was a long trip to Navy,” he said. “A lot of teams, the week after they play Navy, they always lose. To me, it was a perfect time for an open date.”
According to SJSU Athletics, San Jose State leads the all-time series 20-13-1.
The Aggies have defeated SJSU the last three years, including last year’s heartbreaking 34-33 defeat.
SJSU is currently ranked as the number one pass offense, while the Aggies are ranked as the number one passing defense, according to the WAC website.
Spartan junior quarterback David Fales has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes this season while Utah State’s defense has only allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 47 percent through the air this year, according to the WAC website.
“We’ll be studying (Utah State) this week and we’ll look at what they do and find out the best way to attack them,” MacIntyre said. “We’ll still be able to throw the ball. I think we have good weapons, good receivers and our quarterback also is very good.”
The Spartans enter the homecoming game with positive media attention that is starting to gain some steam.
For the third week in a row, SJSU gained top 25 votes in the USA Today national coaches’ poll, this time with four votes.
The Spartans will play the homecoming game against Utah State on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m.
James Simpson is a Spartan Daily staff writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JimmerSimpson.