Bearcats duo leading SJSU offense

Oliver top TE in the country in receptions

SAN JOSE — The San Jose State Spartans are not off to the start they were hoping for with an 0-3 record and while they search for their solution during their bye week it is clear who their offensive playmakers are — former Bearcats Josh Oliver and Bailey Gaither.

Oliver was selected to the Preseason Mackey Award Watch List, which honors the best division 1 tight end in the nation, and has fully lived up the hype that comes with being placed on such a prestigious list. Oliver has led the Spartans in catches in all three games so far this season and has finished as the top receiver in all but the first game, where he was beat out by his Paso Robles partner Gaither.

So far this season, the Spartans have played UC Davis, Washington State University and most recently, the No. 20 ranked team in the nation in the Oregon Ducks. San Jose played UC Davis in the first game of the season and showcased their former Bearcat offensive weapons.

Gaither led the team in yards with six catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns, including a 79-yard catch and run touchdown that brought the Spartans within six points of the Aggies at the end of the third quarter, and two carries for 26 yards while Oliver led the team in catches with eight for 86 yards. However, UC Davis grabbed an early lead and extended it to 16 points when they recorded a safety on the first offensive play of the second half and the Spartans could never recover as they lost, 44-38.

The losses have been tough, but both players feel it will lead to wins in conference play.

“I definitely think I left a lot of money on the field,” Gaither said. “I think I could have done a lot better but it is what it is and you just learn from what you do and you move on. So, there is a lot of teaching tape, and it was preseason, so we are going to be able to go over all the stuff from these prior weeks and maintain focus going into conference play.”

The Spartans took on Washington State in week two and were shutout offensively and were dominated on both sides of the ball. The Cougars won the game 31-0 and were up 24-0 at halftime. Oliver led the team in both catches and yards on the day finishing with five for 51 yards. Offensively SJSU only had 109 total yards.

The Spartans’ schedule did not get any easier after getting blown out by Washington State as they headed into Autzen Stadium to play the No. 20 Ducks. To the surprise of many, the Spartans mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter after being down 31-12 and had the Ducks’ crowd down to a dull roar for several minutes.

Gaither led the receiving corp for the Spartans hauling in six catches for 90 yards and Oliver scored his first touchdown of the season on a 7-yard pass in the third quarter.

“It was a great experience, it is something you dream of as a kid playing in Autzen Stadium, you know, with the fans and their packed house and everyone cheering,” Oliver said. “It was a really cool environment and I think we competed well, probably our best game on the season so far and it is something to move forward off it.”

The Spartans lost the game 35-22, but are now into their bye week and will begin their important games next week as they begin Mountain West Conference play with a home game against Hawaii (3-1).

Oliver began the season on the Mackey Award list and has proven he belongs there. Through three games this season he has nine catches for 178 yards and one touchdown. Nine of his 19 catches have gone for Spartans’ first downs and his 19 total catches places him tops in Division 1 for catches among tight ends and his 178 yards is the fourth most in Division 1.

The Spartans will play their next two games at home and then will take on Army West Point in Levi Stadium on Oct. 13. The game will also be televised on one of the ESPN channels.


© 2019-Paso Robles Press

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