The San Jose State Spartans are trying to recapture their success in 2006 when they won nine games, because last year was to be a springboard year to be able to compete with the top teams in the WAC only managed five wins. Consistency was a problem last year when San Jose lost their first three games before winning their next three, but ultimately going 2-4 in their final six. Head Coach Dick Tomey has done a great job for a program that was almost dropped a few years back, and to get them to a bowl game in 2006 was amazing. This season the Spartans are looking for more consistent play and try to get back to the 2006 season.
Offense: The Spartans return six starters from last years team and other players who had significant playing time. The quarterback situation is somewhat clear, as of spring ball Junior Myles Eden is the number one, but not by much and will see competition from Cal transfer Kyle Reed. Reed had a foot injury that limited his time getting to know the Spartans’ offense. With that injury, coach Tomey is willing to give him a long look in fall camp to see if he emerges as San Jose State’s starter. When Reed was being recruited by Cal he was considered a top 10 QB out of high school, so talent is there.
The running back situation is even more confusing then the quarterback position if that is possible. The Spartans are hoping that fall camp begins with Yonus Davis back on his team, but when spring ended, the top running back of 2006 had still not been cleared to receive a medical redshirt from his injury. The top returning ball carrier is senior James Callier who is more of a power back, Caller rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns to finish third on the team, but he’s not explosive enough to carry the load. The other potential option is Junior Dominique Hunsucker who averaged only 2.7 yards per carry. Even with the lack of experience Coach Tomey feels they will be fine at running the ball.
The receiving corp is the strong point on this Spartans team, and is loaded with experience in this area. Senior Kevin Jurovich looks to be the go to guy in 2008 and with both returning starters and four of the top five returning the Spartans should be solid. Jurovich was chosen second-team All-WAC last season after catching 85 balls for 1,183 yards and nine touchdowns and has a good chance to be the leagues top wide out.
Defense: This side of the ball needs work, during the 2007 season they gave up 29 points per game and gave up 40 or more in five of their seven loses. The unit does return six starters which should help the Spartan defense to improve, and if they want to get back to bowl eligible the defense must limit those high scoring games. The defensive line is the strength of the team with all four starters returning in that area, but return zero linebackers. The defensive line has two exceptional speed ends in Carl Ihenacho and Justin Cole who had a modest 65 tackles and 9 sacks between the two, have the ability to disrupt the passing game. As for the linebackers they will be bringing in all new starters for this season.
The top returning player at linebacker are junior Ryno Gonzales and in only six games last year he had 26 tackles and has the speed and agility to cover a receiver if needed. The other top returning player is Sophomore Jason Swisher who had with 21 tackles in 12 games. If the defensive line is as good as it should be then they can open up lanes for these linebackers to have good years as well.
In the defensive backfield senior cornerback Christopher Owens had a great year with 75 tackle, led the team with six interceptions, had three pass breakups and 2.5 sacks. There is question if he can keep that up since Owens was the secondary cornerback so teams thought they could go in his direction, but Coach Tomney feels Owens will have another impact year with his playmaking abilities to get sacks and interceptions.
Early Prediction: This game is in San Diego so there is an edge to be given to the Aztecs. Both teams are coming off of disappointing seasons, but the edge goes to the Spartans because of the loss of former San Diego State quarterback Kevin O’Connell to the NFL. The Spartans win by 7 points or less, as of now.