SAN JOSE -- San Jose State would like to improve on a running game that is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, but given the overall success of the Spartans offense, the coaching staff isn't panicking about the ground game's inconsistency.

"Running is important," SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre said. "Don't get me wrong. I believe in that whole-heartedly. But, if they take it away, and you can throw it and score the same way. ... "

The Spartans (7-2, 3-1 Western Athletic Conference) are in the bottom 10 in the nation in rushing offense, but the passing attack ranks ninth. SJSU would like more balance, but winning is a bigger goal.

"As far as statistics go, I don't think that's a focus for me or the offense," said senior running back De'Leon Eskridge. "If we can pass and get touchdowns, either way it goes, it's about winning."

Eskridge, a transfer from Minnesota, is third in WAC rushing with 633 yards. He's gained a solid 4.4 yards per carry and has six touchdowns.

But all other ball carriers are averaging a paltry 1.9 yards per carry. Even when taking sacks out of the equation, the average is just 3.3.

"We want to run the ball better," offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. "I think we're always striving for as much balance as we can. At the same time, you've got to look at what your strengths are and we're not as good at running the ball right now."


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SJSU ran for 85 yards on 29 carries in last week's 42-13 win over Idaho, which entered the game last in the WAC in rushing defense. This week's opponent, New Mexico State, has taken over the bottom spot, allowing an average of 208 yards per game.

The Spartans tried to establish the run early against Idaho. They went to the ground on 13 of the first 23 plays. Through halftime, it was nearly an even split.

But into the third quarter, the game was still close as the Vandals pulled to within 14-13. That's when SJSU unleashed the passing game. On their first five drives of the second half, the Spartans threw 23 times against just six runs.

"Finally we just said, 'Forget it, spread 'em' out, we're throwing it,' and it was over," MacIntyre said.

  • Travis Johnson did not participate in Tuesday's practice. He bruised his knee against Idaho but said after the game that he was fine. MacIntyre said Johnson will play against New Mexico State.

    Receiver Jabari Carr is also expected to play. He was injured in an apparent helmet-to-helmet collision against Idaho but did not suffer a concussion.

    MacIntyre said reports during Saturday's television broadcast that running back Tyler Ervin suffered a broken collarbone were incorrect. Ervin has a badly bruised collarbone and a sprained AC joint, but there is no break or displacement.

    MacIntyre said he'd like to have Ervin back by the end of the regular season but that he won't be rushed back.

    "We've got to make sure he's ready to go," MacIntyre said.

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