San Jose State was very close to dropping footbal all together, but new head coach Dick Tomey helped save the program with near instant success with a 9-4 record with a bowl win in Tomey's second year. Well, since that good 2006 season San Jose State has gone 11-13 in two years, and 2009 does not look to be much better.
The average of the predictors have San Jose State finishing seventh in the WAC, which could be a bit low because the spartans return 53 letterman where 30 are seniors. Experience could help pull out a few extra games for the Spartans, but to be realistic they have four guarantee loses --or as much as a guarantee a writer can provide-- with games at USC, at Stanford, at Boise State, and then Utah at home; Nevada could be mixed in there but is not a sure loss and throw in that the Spartans were 0-5 against teams with winning records.
The Spartans will get a huge bump with the return of wide receiver Keving Jurovich who only played in two games because of mono, but in those two games he had fifteen catches and a score. Another reason for Spartan fans to be excited is that they bring back all five offensive lineman who return 98 career starts that ranks 13th in the nation. Hopefully that experience will help protect the quarterback better since last year they gave up 26 sacks on the year which is just over two sacks per game.
As every astute college football fan knows offensive line is a huge inidicator for succes; so the Spartans have that going for them. Quarterback play does return experience with Senior Kyle Reed, but he was not very good last year. So, the question is with a more seasoned offensive line will that matter for Reed who did not play in two games and had only two games over 200 passing yards are more. With Kelly entrenched as the starter and no one looking over his shoulder like last year he should see more success.
Now on to a running game that has not averaged over 90 yards per game in the past two season needs some major hope. Again, the offensive line should help reach that goal but there is an array of backs vying for playing time with sophomore Brandon Rutley, junior college transfer Lamon Muldrow and now-healthy senior Patrick Perry.
The bright spot for the Spartans and their chance to get to a bowl win is their defense. Last year they were 21st in total defense with their specialty is the pass defense that was 10th in the nation. Now on the flip side of that pass defense is not as good as it seems is because San Jose State was being beat last year so teams ran the ball once they secured the lead, but even if that is considered the Spartan secondary is pretty solid.
The defense will have to replace three players selected in the NFL draft in DT Jarron Gilbert, CB Christopher Owens and CB Coye Francies. The pass defense make take a small hit, but the overall defense will be nearly as good and at worst a top three in the WAC. The star returning on defense is LB Justin Cole who had 8.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks last season.
The defense should be able to keep them in contention in most games in the Spartans attempt to get to their second bowl game since 1990.