SAN JOSE -- Come Thursday night, there's a decent chance that San Jose State quarterback Blake Jurich will throw more passes in one game than the 20 that he has attempted during the first four years of his collegiate career.

But the fifth-year senior said he isn't approaching Thursday any differently now that he will be making his first collegiate start when San Jose State faces North Dakota at 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.

"I think I'm just going to keep it the same," Jurich said. "Prepare how I have the last two years."

The last two years, Jurich was backing up David Fales, a player who essentially needed no backup. Jurich's only significant action last year came in mop-up duty of a blowout loss to Utah State. He played a bit more in 2012 in zone-read packages when he was the team's third-leading rusher.

"I think he's excited," San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said. "I'm excited to see how he comes out and how he plays. He's definitely put in a lot of time, effort and energy."

Jurich said earlier this week that he's not experiencing many nerves.

"I'm sure there will be the night before, but I'm just taking it day by day, just getting ready and prepared," he said.

Jurich will make his starting debut on the same night Fales, his close friend, makes his first NFL start. Fales is expected to play most of the Chicago Bears' preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.


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As has been said since the first day of spring practice, nobody on the coaching staff is expecting Jurich to go out and replicate the play of Fales. It's likely the Spartans will lean heavily on their running game and attempt to display a more balanced attack after better than 72 percent of their yards came through the air last season.

"It's not all on his shoulders," Caragher said of Jurich. "We have some good players around him, a good supporting cast. He's just that guy that has to be able to distribute the ball to his fellow teammates and let them carry the workload."

The ground game also will be led by a player making his first start. With 2013 leading rusher Jarrod Lawson suspended for the first two games, Thomas Tucker is assured the starting nod. Tucker got plenty of experience last year after being activated from a redshirt season after four games, but he has never been on the field for a season opener and never started.

"I can't wait to go out there and have fun with my teammates," Tucker said. "Being my first opener, I'm going to have a little butterflies, but that's everybody."

Redshirt freshman Brandon Monroe, sophomore Osirius Burke and senior Alvin Jelks could also carry some of the load in Lawson's absence, Caragher said.

They will try to help San Jose State open the season with a victory for the second straight year. Last year's win came against Sacramento State, like North Dakota a Football Championship Subdivision squad from the Big Sky Conference.

The big test is to avoid overlooking those teams, and the Spartans insist they won't.

"We've got to treat every opponent with respect," senior defensive tackle Travis Raciti said. "We're more worried about ourselves. We're going to try to perfect our own technique."

For more San Jose State coverage, visit the SpartanCentral blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sjsu. Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.

THURSDAY'S GAME
North Dakota at San Jose State, 7 p.m. ESPN3 (online only)