SAN JOSE -- After a month of showing good offensive balance, San Jose State mostly abandoned the running game in its loss to San Diego State.
That's not something the Spartans want to continue Saturday against Nevada.
SJSU (5-4, 4-2 Mountain West Conference) had made steady progress in the running game and averaged 216 yards over its previous four games. But the Spartans ran only 25 times for 81 yards Saturday in a 34-30 loss to the Aztecs while passing 48 times.
SJSU coach Ron Caragher said the split was largely skewed by facing San Diego State's unique 3-3-5 defense that stacks three linebackers behind three linemen and brings an extra safety into the mix.
"It can be challenging to run the ball against that because there's so much movement up front," Caragher said. "You've got to be able to create advantages in the man-to-man coverage throwing the ball."
That's where the Spartans didn't take advantage. SJSU had only three plays of 30 or more yards after averaging nearly five such plays per game over the previous four.
Jarrod Lawson gained 78 yards on 17 carries. He rushed for 42 yards in the third quarter but had only four carries for 15 yards in the fourth.
A return to the running game will be important against the Wolf Pack (3-7, 2-5), which allows a conference-worst 265 rushing yards per game. Nevada allowed 312 yards and four touchdowns to Colorado State's Kapri Bibbs in a 38-17 loss Saturday.
"That'd be nice," Caragher said of the possibility of being bowl eligible. "But whether we hadn't had a victory or were undefeated, it's so important to focus on the task at hand and play your best. Anything that takes you off this day, this week, is not helpful."
Nevada was eliminated from bowl contention with its loss to Colorado State. It will be the first time since 2004 that the Wolf Pack will not be in a bowl game.
Caragher said he expects Nevada to be "a prideful team" that wants to finish the season strong.
"Sometimes it's not always how you start out but how you finish," Caragher said. "If they can get a few here in the end, it can get their program on the upswing. I'm sure they'll have those guys ready to go."
Caragher also said junior receiver Jabari Carr, who missed two games with a dislocated shoulder, reinjured it at practice during the week preceding the Nov. 2 game against UNLV, and that has prevented him from re-establishing a major role in the offense.
Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.
San Jose State (5-4, 4-2 Mountain West) at Nevada (3-7, 2-5), 7:30 p.m. ESPNU