Know Wyoming’s foe: SJSU Spartans
LARAMIE -- San Jose State defenders littered the All-Mountain West preseason team, starting with Cade Hall, who was named the Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive end racked up four sacks and forced a fumble in 2021. His best individual performance came against Wyoming, when Hall got to Levi Williams twice and tallied a season-high seven tackles in the 27-21 victory over the Cowboys.
He's joined by dynamic linebacker, Kyle Harmon, and interior lineman, Viliami Fehoko, both first-team members, according to the league's media. Those two combined for 171 tackles a season ago, 134 of which belonged to Harmon. They also tallied eight total sacks. Seven of those courtesy of Fehoko.
Through two games, the Spartans boast the top scoring defense in the Mountain West, allowing just under 16 points per game.
"They have a really impressive defensive front," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "Guys who are strong and big but also have quickness. So that's going to be a challenge there."
The guys on that side of the ball were expected to be stout. On offense, it's a pair of intra-conference transfers who are leading the way for Brent Brennan's bunch, starting with quarterback Chevan Cordeiro.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Hawaii transfer is completing better than 57% of his passes while leading the Spartans two two wins in the team's first three outings. Cordeiro has thrown for 764 yards. He's added three touchdowns.
And he's no stranger to facing the Cowboys.
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Last November, Cordeiro connected on 19-of-31 passes for 323 yards and three scores in the Rainbow Warriors' 38-14 rout in Laramie. In 2018, he made his first-career start against the Pokes. That night on the islands, Cordeiro threw for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 17-13 victory. His lone loss came inside War Memorial Stadium in 2020.
"I mean, he's really good," Bohl said, referring to the junior from Honolulu. "You saw his ability last year, and I think their receivers probably are a little bit better than what Hawaii has. So, he's going to get our guys' attention."
Cordeiro is also a threat with his legs. In that 2021 win, he gashed the Pokes to the tune of a team-best 86 yards on just 14 carries. He also found the end zone on the ground.
Bohl said he is well aware of what Cordeiro is capable of.
"(He's) very elusive, a great scrambler and takes care of the football," he said. "So we'll have our challenge with him."
SJSU features the No. 2 passing offense in the league, averaging 261 yards per outing. Another big reason for that is Nevada transfer, Elijah Cooks.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior is coming off a just a 13-catch, 157-yard injury-plagued 2021 campaign. Despite those stats, Cooks did haul in four touchdown passes during his final season in Reno. Through three weeks, he already has 12 grabs for 190 yards and a score.
The Cowboys and Spartans are scheduled to kickoff at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
Here are some other things you need to know about Wyoming's Week-5 meeting with SJSU:
* Head coach: Brent Brennan (6th year at SJSU) 22-38 overall record
* Offensive coordinator: Kevin McGiven (5th year); Defensive coordinator: Derrick Odum (6th year)
* Record in 2021: 5-7 overall, 3-5 in Mountain West play
* Offense in 2022: Average 23 ppg, 338 ypg (77 rush, 261 pass)
* Defense in 2022: Allow 15.7 ppg, 324.7 ypg (155 rush, 169.7 pass)
* Key Returners - Offense: Chevan Cordeiro (QB - 56-98, 764 yds, 3 TD; 35 rush, 53 yds, 2 TD), Kairee Robinson (RB - 34 rush, 140 yds, 3 TD), Elijah Cooks (WR - 12 catches, 190 yds, TD), Justin Lockhart (WR - 10 catches, 192 yds), Charles Ross (WR - 8 catches, 138 yds, TD), Sam Olson (TE - 8 catches, 60 yds, TD)
* Key Returners - Defense: Kyle Harmon (LB - 23 tackles, Sack, 2 PBU), Viliami Fehoko (DL - 19 tackles, PBU), Tre Jenkins (S - 19 tackles, 2 PBU, INT), Bryun Parham (LB - 13 tackles), Cade Hall (DE - 11 tackles, Sack, PBU)
* Overview: We already know what Cordeiro brings to the table. He's shifty and makes plays with his right arm and his feet. Oddly, this will be his fourth career-start under center against the Cowboys. You know what he is going to do. Stopping him, on the other hand, is a tall task. Wyoming did hold him to just 110 passing yards and picked him off once in a 31-7 win in 2020. That frigid night in Laramie, Cordeiro rushed the ball nine times for one yard. He also had minus passing yards at the half. UW sacked him five times. This SJSU defense is quick and talented. Harmon tackles everything that moves and the edge rushers made life miserable on UW late in last year's meeting with the Spartans. Fehoko and Hall pose a big problem, but, so far, Wyoming's offensive line has allowed just four sacks in five games. Two of those opposing fronts belong to Illinois and BYU, too. SJSU is averaging just 77 rushing yards per outing. If UW can make the visitors one-dimensional and limit Cordeiro, it could be a long day for the California kids. If not, look no further than the last meeting between these two teams when then-QB Nick Nash gutted the Pokes for 111 yards on just 11 carries. Cordeiro is more than capable of that type of performance, too.
* Thoughts on SJSU: "San Jose State, I think, they're playing really well and (coming off an) impressive win against Western Michigan. You know, we're going to be facing another really, I think, talented quarterback. Cordeiro played at Hawaii last year and played against us here, so it's not like this is a place where he's going to be unaccustomed to. But I thought, particularly against Western Michigan, man, he was on. He threw the ball well ... They've got a great group of receivers that make all kinds of plays and they have a really impressive defensive front ... Brent Brennan, he has done a great job at San Jose. His dad played there and he's from the Bay Area. They've recruited California well. They're 2-1 and there's a lot on the line. We've had one conference game and this is going to be another really important game for us ... I will say, this is going to be really good competition we're getting this week." - Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl
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