If you've read anything about San Jose State in this week leading up to their game against the Broncos, you must have read that "THE SPARTANS HAVE THE GREATEST DEFENSE IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL." Etcetera.
Well, a big reason why this hyperbole is possible is the Ihenacho family and brothers Carl and Duke. Each Ihenacho leads the country in a statistical category: Carl, a junior defensive end, leads in tackles for loss and his younger brother Duke, a sophomore linebacker/safety, is tied for the lead in interceptions. Natives of Nigeria, the Ihenachos have helped the San Jose State defense become the best statistical defense in the WAC.
Christian Okoye looks on from a sparsely-attended book signing and smiles.
If we had to pick one Ihenacho to be morbidly afraid of, we would pick Carl. As a defensive end, he stands a much greater chance at wreaking havoc in the Bronco backfield against our maddeningly inconsistent offensive line. If his specialty were simply sacking the quarterback, we wouldn't be too worried. But as the numbers say, he does much more than just rush the passer.
Carl is tied for the national lead with 14 tackles for loss. He had six last week. He also has seven sacks, a team-high three forced fumbles and - stunningly for a defensive end - a team-high 45 tackles.
Is it too late to change our preseason WAC defensive player of the year vote? We picked the wrong SJSU defensive lineman.
Carl's brother Duke is only slightly less scary but hopefully much more irrelevant on Friday, considering that Kellen Moore doesn't make the bad decisions that Duke has learned to thrive on.
Duke is tied for the national lead in interceptions with five and has returned a pick for a touchdown in two straight games. He also has three pass breakups.
The Iheancho brothers did not start playing football until late in high school, which made them optimum candidates for true freshman playing time at San Jose State.
Coach Dick Tomey said they should have redshirted but he didn't have enough talent in his program to do it.
"They've adapted because they're highly competitive, they're highly intelligent and they have tremendous personal pride," Tomey said. "We're very proud of both of them."
Tomey had nothing to say about SJSU's other set of brothers: backup QB Sean Flynn and S Kyle Flynn.
Read more: Spartans get it done with defense [Statesman]