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Previewing Utah's 2010 Opponents: San Jose State Spartans

Last season San Jose State made a game of Utah well into the fourth quarter before freshman back Sauusan Shakerin had a 46 yard run late in the fourth quarter to set up one of Utah's two fourth quarter touchdowns.  This year San Jose State is projected to be one of the worst teams in college football.  First off they have a new coach in Mike MacIntyre who is replacing Dick Tomey.  MacIntyre has never had a head coaching job but he does have five years of NFL experience with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets.  His most recent stint was the defensive coordinator at Duke.

He is a defensive coach so we know at least that side of the ball should be better then last years defense which was ranked below the 100 mark.  MacIntyre was able to get Duke in the 50th percentile in total defense, but to get close to that with San Jose State in the WAC would be a miracle. 

New schemes have been installed this spring which historically causes teams to struggle to pick up new systems, specifically on offense.  The schedule is not kind either as they play at Alabama, at Wisconsin, two FCS teams,  at Utah, at Nevada, and Boise State in their first seven weeks.

On to the players for the Spartans; their quarterback position will not be settled until fall camp and is between three players: 2009 starter Jordan La Secla is battling junior college transfer Matt Faulkner and redshirt freshman Dasmen Stewart.  Expect the passing game to struggle in the first few weeks of the season once they quarterback gets settled.

The offensive line returns nearly every starer which will help in protecting whoever is handling the ball, and this should also help running game which averaged less then 80 yards per game, and a meager 2.62 yards per carry.  An experienced line should help the team vastly improve off of that stat. 

The strength lies within the receivers on offense which could open things up in the running game.  Even though the Spartans lost Kevin Jurovich they do return three other receivers who combined for over 100 catches.  The lead receiver is Marquis Avery who had 42 catches and six touchdowns in only nine games last year.  The key will be if the quarterback is given time to throw to these talented players.  If the Spartans can get the passing game going then they should be able to open up the running game which was a mess last year.

The defense which is what MacIntyre will put his pride on the line first needs to improve the rush defense that gave up 270 plus yards per game in 2009.  Those stats can be misleading since opponents put up points big on the Spartans and then decided to run the ball out of respect for not passing to run up the score.

The defense is dropping the wacky 4-2-5 and moving toward a more traditional 4-3 defense.  Size is an issue so the defense will focus on putting speed players on the field to attack the edges and get to the quarterback.  The secondary is the strength of San Jose State with safety Duke Ihenacho has all-league talent. CB Peyton Thompson is another to watch.

The last half of the schedule is manageable where they play the lesser of the WAC talent and look for the Spartans to possibly get to four wins this year.  That win amount would double their 2009 out put.

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