The Spartans rank No. 125 in Athlon's Top 130 for 2018
Erratic quarterback play and a plethora of injuries on defense torpedoed Brent Brennan's first season at San Jose State. Questions remain at quarterback; the spring game offered some optimism, but new offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven has his hands full with his new assignment.
Previewing San Jose State Football's Offense for 2018
The Spartans were 126th in the nation in scoring a year ago at 15.8 points per game, and while there is a decent amount of experience returning, there is no clear-cut quarterback entering fall camp. Montel Aaron started the season, lost his job midway through and then regained it in the latter part of the year. However, he had no touchdowns and seven interceptions in his final four games, so the job is still up for grabs. Josh Love, who had five starts last year, had a strong spring and threw the ball with improved accuracy, especially on deep balls. Redshirt freshman Terrell Carter, a dual threat, is also in the mix.
There is talent at the skill positions. Running back Tyler Nevens returns after leading the team with 670 yards as a true freshman. The top six pass catchers return, including tight end Josh Oliver, an All-MWC candidate. Tre Hartley and Bailey Gaither both averaged over 14 yards per catch, and Leki Nunn had a big spring game that featured five 30-plus-yard pass plays, an element that was missing in 2017.
The interior of the offensive line needs to be rebuilt, but tackles Troy Kowalski and Jack Snyder return.
Previewing San Jose State Football's Defense for 2018
San Jose State's defense was decimated by injuries last season but hopes to be at full strength and much improved in August. Twenty-four players overall sat out the spring, including seven linebackers.
The defensive line welcomes back all three senior starters in the 3-4 alignment, although all three missed time due to injuries in 2017. If healthy, this group will be stout. Senior Bryson Bridges is an all-league candidate, and Owen Roberts and Sailosi Latu are also returning seniors who will be expected to present a solid first line of defense.
The aforementioned linebacker corps features a lot of moving parts, with the best player being inside linebacker Ethan Aguayo. Aguayo also missed time due to injury last year, but when healthy he complemented the departed Frank Ginda well. Ginda led the nation in tackles and declared for the NFL Draft as a junior. Jamal Scott had a strong spring at outside backer.
In the secondary, there will be a lot of inexperience with three starters gone, but some junior college transfers are fortifying the unit. Bobby Brown and Nehemiah Shelton will be in the mix to start right away, and Tre Webb was singled out by the staff as having had a strong spring. Senior Dakari Monroe is expected to keep his job at corner after starting two games late last year.
Previewing San Jose State Football's Specialists for 2018
Placekicking is in excellent hands with Bryce Crawford, who has made 30-of-35 field goal attempts the last two seasons, including five from at least 50 yards. He was an All-MWC honorable mention in 2017. Brian Papazian is competing with Crawford for the punting duties, and that competition will continue into the fall.
Trepidation will linger until a quarterback proves himself during games, although the skill positions offer promising talent. Defensively, there is optimism thanks to a strong defensive line and some young talent in the back eight. If the injury bug can stay away and a QB emerges, the Spartans can double their win total from a year ago.