SAN JOSE -- Ron Caragher doesn't need to devise any special methods to make his players take their opponent seriously during his first game as San Jose State coach.
Sacramento State, despite its Football Championship Subdivision classification, has built a good track record against higher division foes heading into Thursday's 7 p.m. opener at Spartan Stadium.
"We know they're a good team," Caragher said of the Hornets. "Having seen them beat some Pac-12 teams, that's instant credibility."
Sac State has garnered a reputation as a giant killer. The Hornets won at Oregon State in their 2011 opener and beat Colorado in their second game of the season last year.
"You show them the scoreboard and really don't have to say much more," Caragher said of his players.
It's still tough to figure how much to glean from those wins, particularly the Colorado victory. The Buffaloes may have been the worst team from a power conference last season.
Plus, just a week earlier, the Hornets were crushed 49-19 by New Mexico State. The Aggies never won another game the rest of the season, including a 47-7 blowout loss to SJSU, and may have been the worst team in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Sac State has clearly shown it can get up for a big game, but will a contest at Arizona State next week steal away some of the Hornets' focus?
It's unlikely considering the proximity of the schools. Strangely, despite being just a two-hour drive apart, San Jose State and Sacramento State have never met. It's easy to expect the Hornets to be eager and ready to knock off their Bay Area opponent.
Caragher knows plenty about the talent level of teams like Sac State. He coached the last six years at the University of San Diego.
"Having coached at the FCS level, I have the utmost respect for those teams," Caragher said. "They have scholarships too."
Sac State has some weapons on offense. Quarterback Garrett Safron threw for 300-plus yards in both the New Mexico State and Colorado games. He had 2,540 passing yards last year and was also the team's second-leading rusher.
"He's a terrific athlete," Caragher said. "He can run the football. He's the guy that makes thing click with their offense."
Safron's top target is Morris Norrise, a senior wide receiver from Berkeley High. He had 60 catches for 777 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Senior running back Ezekiel Graham returns after rushing for 861 yards and five scores last season.
It will be up to the Spartans to showcase their depth -- and additional talent -- and put this game away early. With three tough games to follow, this would be an ideal opportunity to get some playing time for some of SJSU's backups.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.