Spartan and MWC notes: Faulkner emerges in CFL and Winston wins MWC top freshman award

Courtesy of the Ottawa Redblacks Twitter account (original source TBA)

Courtesy of the Ottawa Redblacks Twitter account (original source TBA)

Matt Faulkner, perhaps best remembered the serviceable but unremarkable starter in 2011 for San Jose State, has signed as the first quarterback for the expansion Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. He is the first quarterback under contract for the team, which will begin building its team in earnest on Monday with the expansion draft.

In his one year starting for the Spartans, he completed a shade under 65 percent of his passes for 3,149 yards, throwing as many touchdowns (13) as he did interceptions (13). He had transferred from Fresno State and Mt. San Antonio College.

The Ottawa Citizen places him as likely third on the depth chart, since the Redblacks will at least get two QBs with CFL experience in the expansion draft.

This is the third attempt at a CFL franchise in the Canadian capitol. The Ottawa Rough Riders went for more than 75 years before folding in 1996. The Ottawa Renegades went from 2002 to 2005 before the league forced the team to cease operations.

Winston is MWC freshman of the year; 3 more on first team

Tyler Winston parlayed a strong freshman year as Noel Grigsby’s replacement into an award from the Mountain West Conference this year, winning the conference’s freshman of the year award after a strong first season.

He caught 58 balls this season for five touchdowns and 858 yards, a 14.8 yards/catch average. Not bad for someone who was needed as an emergency replacement for the senior Grigsby, who was lost for the season in the early going.

He leads a class of three other Spartans on the all-Mountain West first football team, with David Fales predictably losing out on the first QB spot to Derek Carr from Fresno State. Receiver Chandler Jones, cornerback Bene Benwikere and linebacker Keith Smith all earned first team honors.

Fales was the second team quarterback along with offensive lineman Nicholas Kaspar and kicker Austin Lopez. Freshman tight end Billy Freeman and offensive lineman Ryan Jones were honorable mention.

The conference awards were: Offensive player of the year, Derek Carr, Fresno State; Freshman of the year, Tyler Winston, San Jose State; Special teams player of the year, Carlos Wiggins, New Mexico; defensive player of the year, Shaquil Barrett, Colorado State; Coach of the year, Matt Wells, Utah State.

In other news from San Jose State and the conference …

  • More awards for San Jose State’s young’uns: Tyler Winston earned another honor this week to. He and three other San Jose State freshmen and sophomore kicker Austin Lopez earned honorable mention on the College Football News’ freshman and sophomore all-America teams. Winston, running back Jarrod Lawson, linebacker Christian Tago, tight end Billy Freeman earned spots on the freshman team, while Lopez was honorable mention on the sophomore team.
  • Jon Wilner doesn’t waste your time this time: Taking time away from his stumping for the big conferences, he writes about why San Jose State didn’t deserve a bowl game.
  • Check out the recruiting class: Not bad so far, all things considered. Mission Viejo QB and 3-star recruit Ian Fieber leads the class so far (we hope.)
  • From Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, next Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl will be a reunion for two Bakersfield products in USC quarterback Cody Kessler (who graduated from Bakersfield Centennial) and Fresno State’s Derek Carr (who went to Bakersfield Christian.) The two are good friends.
  • Step 1 for UNLV: Make bowl game. Step 2: ?????. Step 3. Profit? So writes Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which has its postseason berth and now much figure out how it will pay for things like travel and the likes.
  • Side note: No one from UNLV earned first team All-Mountain West honors this year, despite the team’s 7-5 record. Three made the second team: lineman Brandon Boyko, receiver Devante Davis and running back Tim Cornett. My thought: The Rebels got their bowl game, they can deal with it.
  • San Diego State is busily preparing for its bowl game in Boise by trying to practice outdoors as much as possible, reports the Union-Tribune. Two problems: San Diego is rather balmy this time of year compared to Boise (which might not get over freezing for game time), and they are having to share practice facilities with Boise State as they prepare for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas eve.
  • Bryan Harsin is back home with Boise State, the Idaho Statesman writes, after the school essentially purchased him from Arkansas State. the Red Wolves, in an interesting note, have now had four different coaches in four straight years (Steve Roberts was fired after the 2010 season, Hugh Freeze bolted for Ole Miss after the 2011 season, Gus Malzahn left for Auburn after the 2012 season, and Harsin left after the 2013 season for Boise State.)
  • Colorado State sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs was named second team All-American this year.
  • In a wild bit of speculation from the Fort Collins Coloradoan, reporter Kelly Lyell looks into whether Rams coach Jim McElwain could be an option to replace Nick Saban at Alabama should he leave the Crimson Tide for, say, Texas. McElwain won two national titles as offensive coordinator for Saban in 2009 and 2011. But the reality is, with his buyouts at $4 million this year and $3 million next year, he’s probably not leaving Fort Collins this year.

MWC Roundup: A building boom at two of conference’s Calif. schools

935_-mountain_west_conference-primary-2011These are boom times for the Cal State’s football schools, at least in terms of athletics, with San Diego State and San Jose State are each building up their facilities.

The Vermeil-Walsh Athletic Complex, which will be the new North end zone at Spartans Stadium, is set to break ground soon at San Jose State and will make the stadium in general more hospitable. Spartan Gym, which houses the volleyball and gymnastics teams, is also getting a sorely needed facelift along with the rest of the Spartan Complex. The facility is also privately financed which, considering the hard times the school has fallen on financially, is a relief.

Athletic director Gene Bleymaier hopes its the first step of a rebuild of Spartan Stadium, he said back in May. The stadium hasn’t had significant renovations since the 1980s.

San Diego State is building a new basketball practice facility on campus. But with the future of Qualcomm Stadium uncertain and likely short, the Aztecs are looking at all options, including building an on-campus stadium.

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Spartan notes: Volleyball rallies for big win over San Diego State

San Jose State’s volleyball team looked destined for another loss in what has already been a bleak year. Down 2 games to San Diego State on Thursday night and with top player, senior kills and digs leader Hanah Blume, the Spartans rallied for a come-from-behind win over a pretty good San Diego State team 23-25, 26-28, 25-16, 25-23, 15-7.

San Jose State’s volleyball has struggled this year. They haven’t had a winning streak until this week, with the win over the Aztecs making two (they routed lowly Nevada earlier this week.) Blume has been the one bright statistical spot this year.

Mary Alice O’Reilly led the team with 19 kills, but also stepped up to get an astonishing 12 blocks (2 solo, 10 assisted), just the 23rd player in the program’s history to do so. Overall, the Spartans were rejecting a lot of what the Aztecs threw back at them, getting 17 team blocks, 3 solos and 28 assisted.

“We knew what they were going to do,” said volleyball coach Oscar Crespo. “We understood from the first match what they could do and what their strengths were. Our middles did a good job of being patient, reading the set, moving in and executing key blocks in certain situations.”

In other San Jose State sports news …

— The San Jose State men’s basketball team vented its frustration over its loss to D-II Cal State Monterey Bay by beating the tar out of NAIA Pacific Union on Wednesday, 93-42. Jaleel Williams led San Jose with 17 points.

Part of the reason the Spartans’ more than doubled up the Pioneers? Pacific Union was essentially playing chuck and duck from behind the arc, making just six of 29 shots from 3-point range (for reference, the Pioneers took just 58 shots total.)

The Spartans open the season Tuesday against cross-town rival Santa Clara at 8 p.m.

— The San Jose State women’s basketball team begins its 2013-14 campaign with a cupcake: D-II San Francisco State. It will be new coach Jamie Craighead’s first official game. Game is at 7 p.m. at the Event Center, with radio broadcast on KSJS 90.5 FM. Perhaps its for the best to have a lower level team in the opener at home: Only two women’s basketball coaches have opened their career with wins. The late Janice Richard won six of seven season openers, only losing her first as coach in 1999.

MWC Roundup: Strong play gets Fales noticed nationally

David Fales had a  career night against Wyoming, throwing for 482 yards and accounting for six touchdowns (5 passing, 1 rushing) in what was probably his crowning performance this season.

The senior quarterback from Salinas is beginning to put together an excellent season, and it’s starting to get him recognition. He was named MWC player of the week for the second straight game on Monday for his performance.

And that’s not all. As Jimmy Durkin of the Mercury News reports, Fales was also named one of eight stars for the Manning Award again this week, with voting taking place here for the top award.

On top of that, his performance has put him in the running for Capital One Impact Performance of the week, with voting for that going on through ESPN here. He was also honorable mention for quarterback of the week from the Davey O’Brien Award trust, for which Fales is in 22nd place.

Around the Mountain West

— New San Jose State women’s basketball coach Jamie Craighead, whom the Spartans poached from Sacramento State, will make her first appearance on the bench tonight when they take on William Jessup at the Event Center in an exhibition game.

— After eight years of struggles against Nevada, UNLV finally got to paint the Fremont Cannon red thanks to its 27-22 win on Saturday in Reno. The Rebels, 5-3 on the season and 3-1 in Mountain West play, will host the Spartans for their homecoming game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

— University of Nevada students — a whole 15 percent of them, which must be a record for student elections — voted in favor of a $30 fee on top of tuition to help construct a $46 million student fitness center and a $25 million field house, Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal reports. The Nevada board of regents needs to approve the fee in early December before it can go into effect.

— Fresno State is nearing a sellout for Saturday’s game against Nevada. The team is as banged up as its ever been in coach Tim DeRuyter’s tenure, Bryant Jon-Anteola of the Fresno Bee reports.

— Colorado State’s volleyball team is really damn good.

— Meanwhile, the Rams are playing meaningful November football for the first time in a long time, Kelly Lyell of the Fort Collins Coloradoan writes. While the Western division of the MWC is fairly straight forward, the Mountain is a mess with three viable contenders all slated to see each other throughout the next month.

— Oh, and Colorado State may have to make their move with QB Garrett Grayson hobbled.

— San Diego State has opened up a position battle for kicker after Saturday’s debacle, writes Stephanie Loh of UT San Diego, in which sophomore Seamus McMorrow missed a 40-yarder earlier in the game, then had a potential game winner blocked. Senior Wes Feer will get a chance to win the job back.

— Kicker isn’t the only position in flux for the Aztecs. After starter Quinn Kaehler, it’s apparently  chaos.