SAN JOSE — A fast tempo and enthusiasm were the themes of the day as the San Jose State football team closed its first spring workouts under new coach Brent Brennan with a 90-minute scrimmage in front of about 2,000 fans at Spartan Stadium.
Saturday began with a youth camp and Easter egg hunt on the adjacent practice field.
“I saw lots of smiling faces,” Brennan said. “Almost got trampled by 30 4- and 5-year-olds when we let them loose on the Easter eggs. This was an awesome day. I love that the community is supporting what we’re doing. I can’t say enough about it.”
The Spartans ran more than 85 plays in their spring game, with the offense gradually gaining the upper hand. Four quarterbacks took turns operating the no-huddle, up-tempo attack, eventually putting four touchdowns and a field goal on the board.
Brennan, hired Dec. 7 to replace Ron Caragher, is trying to turn around a program that has had four consecutive losing seasons since moving from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West.
Quarterback Montel Aaron, who redshirted as a freshman last fall, was excited by the atmosphere and the largest turnout the program has had for a spring game in years.
“It was nice to get out here and be able to throw the ball around with all these fans here,” Aaron said. “We’re turning this around.”
Tight end Josh Oliver said the Spartans “have new energy” under Brennan.
Running back Jamar Williams said the mood Saturday was an extension of what goes on daily in practice.
“The vibe is crazy. Coach Brennan and his staff bring a lot of energy each day,” he said. “It’s really fun.”
n The quarterback picture is far from settled. Brennan said the four will resume the competition in fall camp, adding he saw things from all of them he liked during spring workouts.
Aaron had best showing Saturday, completing 6 of 13 attempts for 202 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown pass to Bailey Gaither after spinning away from the pass rush. Sophomore Josh Love, understudy last season to then-senior Kenny Potter, was 7 of 12 for 65 yards.
Michael Carrillo was 1 of 3 but made it count for a 45-yard touchdown pass to Gaither, and Sam Allen completed 4 of 7 passes for 18 yards.
“Each one of those guys has done really good things in the spring,” Brennan said, “but they’ve also taken turns throwing it to the wrong-colored jerseys.”
None of the four threw an interception in the spring game.
— Oliver caught four passes for 42 yards — one more than he had all last season when he was used primarily as a blocking tight end.
“Josh is definitely a big weapon on our offense,” Aaron said of the 6-foot-5, 246-pound junior. “He’s impossible to bring down — you need three defenders at least.”
“We’re really excited about Josh,” Brennan confirmed.
— Williams ran the ball well, carrying 16 times for 69 yards, with touchdown runs of 9 and 2 yards. Brennan said the 6-2, 215-pound redshirt freshman has a chance to make an impact.
“He’s got a nice combination of a big body and speed,” the coach said.
Malik Roberson, who led the team with 508 rushing yards last season, sat out the scrimmage with an ankle sprain. Zamore Zigler, another returnee at the position, left the scrimmage midway after absorbing a big hit but was OK, Brennan said.
— Gaither wound up with four catches for 150 yards.
— Safety Chad Miller had two fumble recoveries.
— Brennan said the offensive line and secondary are the team’s deepest and most experienced units right now.
— Offseason conditioning will be a priority, Brennan said, so that both the offense and defense are prepared to endure the effects of running tempo on offense.