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MacIntyre hopes Utes won't be an 'if factor' for Spartans

MacIntyre hopes Utes won't be an 'if factor' for Spartans

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SAN JOSE, Ca. -- San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre may be bringing a 1-2 record with him to Salt Lake City Saturday, but it's a 1-2 record that's come with gaining close to the best experience a developing team could ask for in its opening weeks of the season.

Granted, the Spartans were wiped across the turf by Alabama's unforgiving No. 1 program and a 45-point differential in MacIntyre's first game along the Spartan sideline, and followed up their loss with an unsuccessful comback attempt against No. 11 Wisconsin the following week, but MacIntyre believes his team has gained enough from their losses to make a stand against the No. 13 Utes (3-0) at Rice Eccles Stadium.

"I think it's important that they know they can play with them. I think going to Wisconsin and Alabama might have been a little bit of an ‘if' factor sometimes, but I think in the second half at Wisconsin, they did believe we could play right with them and win the football game," MacIntyre said in a press conference Monday. "We need to go in there with that same focus at Utah."

After failing to post a single point against Wisconsin in the first half, the Spartans started to climb back in the game in the second as they notched a touchdown in each of the last two quarters on passes from senior quarterback Jordan La Secla.

Wisconsin answered with points of their own in the third and fourth quarters, however, and closed the game with a 27-14 advantage over San Jose State.

The Spartans converted 3-of-12 on third downs, but allowed the Badgers to roll past their defense on 8-of-13 on the other end of the field.

Although they were unable to come all the way back from their 17-point halftime deficit, San Jose State's offensive performance proved to be miles ahead of their opening week's. Against the Crimson Tide defense, the Spartans put up just three total points on a field goal in the first quarter and converted on just 1-of-13 third downs. {#Red zone}

"We're the No. 2 team in the WAC in the red zone defensively and offensively, so if we get to the red zone, we're gonna score. We've just gotta get better on third downs," MacIntyre said.

Preparing to take on another undefeated team Saturday at Rice Eccles Stadium, MacIntyre said the Spartans will have to find a way to slow down Utah's fast-paced and efficient scoring drives.

"Utah's a very good football team with an offense that can score quick. But the other area that they can score quick in is their special teams," MacIntyre said. "They've got a returner that's the No. 1 returner in America right now… They're able to put some points up pretty quick on you, so we need to make sure we handle that and handle that storm."

Utah's storm has recently been coming in the form of senior wide receiver Shaky Smithson who, since fumbling twice in the Utes' season-opener against Pittsburgh, is averaging 35 yards on kick returns and 26.6 yards on punt returns, including two that reached the end zone.

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