2011 San Jose State Preview – Offense

Posted May 30, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - San Jose State Spartan Offense

San Jose State Spartans

Preview 2011 - Offense

- 2011 San Jose State Preview | 2011 San Jose State Offense
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What You Need To Know: The coaching staff wanted to change things up and simplify the attack in the first year at the helm after the attack finished 115th in the nation in 2009, but didn't do much better finishing 101st last year and failing to score more than 18 points in the first eight games. Once the schedule eased up, the production started to come. The offensive line that was supposed to be better last year really should improve with all the returning experience, and now Brandon Rutley and David Freeman need more room to move. The receiving corps will be a major plus, and it needs to shine with the quarterback situation in flux. Four players will be battling for the starting gig up until the opener.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Matt Faulkner
21-39, 206 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brandon Rutley
129 carries, 461 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Noel Grigsby
56 catches, 822 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore WR Noel Grigsby
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior QB Matt Faulkner or sophomore QB Dasmen Stewart or redshirt freshman QB Blake Jurich or freshman QB Joseph Gray
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Kyle Nunn
Best pro prospect: Grigsby
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Grigsby, 2) RB Brandon Rutley, 3) TE Ryan Otten
Strength of the offense: Receiver, Quick Backs
Weakness of the offense: Running Game, Quarterback


State of the Unit: The Spartan passing game had a few good moments with Jordan La Secla giving Wisconsin a push early on and finishing the year with 2,860 yards with 16 scores and 16 picks. He was the offense at times, and while the passing game wasn't efficient, the yards were there. Now the Spartans have to deal with a few untested prospects, but there are three good bombers to get excited about.

Senior Matt Faulkner is the most experienced option after spending last year as the No. 2, completing 21-of-39 passes for 206 yards and a touchdowns with an interception. The 6-2, 210-pound former JUCO transfer threw for 3,307 yards and 29 touchdowns for Mt. San Antonio College after transferring from Fresno State. He's not going to run much and he's not the biggest of passers, but he has the arm to push the ball deep.

Sophomore Dasmen Stewart is being given every shot to win the starting job. The 6-4, 215-pounder is a dual-threat prospect with great running skills to go along with his excellent size. He has enough of a passing arm to work the passing game, but he's a great spread option quarterback with the potential to carry the running game at times. He's the X factor because of his all-around skills, while redshirt freshman Blake Jurich also getting a shot. The 6-4, 225-pounder is a pure passer with just enough mobility to get by. With his size and accuracy, he should grow into the team's best throwing option over the next few seasons.

On the way is Joseph Gray, a 6-2, 190-pound true freshman from Los Angeles who can spread the ball around and should be a dangerous short-to-midrange passer. He doesn't have a huge arm, but he gets the ball out of his hands in a hurry and can be the type of leader to build around right away. .

Watch Out For … Stewart. The Spartans have a slew of pure passers who can crank out the yards when needed, but Stewart has the best upside with his variety of skills. At the very least, he should see time in the rotation to utilize his mobility.
Strength: Young players. From Gray to Jurich to Stewart, the Spartans have three good-looking underclassmen to develop. There's talent on the roster, but the coaching staff needs one of the options to emerge.
Weakness: A starter. The Spartans don't have a clear-cut No. 1 guy, and it could be an ongoing process throughout the year to find the right leader to build around. No one stepped up in spring ball to take the job.
Outlook: Faulker hasn't been good enough this offseason to grab the starting job by the horns, and now there's a big decision to make. Does the coaching staff go with a senior who might be nothing more than a gap filler, or does it go with a young guy and take the lumps? Stewart and Jurich were better than Faulkner in spring ball, but the job is still wide open going into the summer.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

State of the Unit: The rushing offense didn't go anywhere, finishing second-to-last in the nation averaging a pathetic 79 yards per game. The backs didn't have much room to move, but the offense also had to bomb away to keep up the pace when the defense didn't do its job. After finishing 117th in the nation in 2009 and 119th last year, the running game obviously needs work.

Senior Brandon Rutley was a top recruit for the program with 5-11, 190-pound size and tremendous speed, but he wasn't able to get loose too often and didn't show off his cut-of-a-dime quickness. He led the team with 461 yards and four scores and caught 17 passes for 183 yards and a score. There were times when he cranked out a few yards including a high of 70 against Nevada, but he wasn't used as a workhorse.

Junior David Freeman started out his career at Washington and got a few starts, and now he could be a dangerous all-around option for the Spartans with terrific speed and the hands to be a strong receiver. At 5-8 and 195 pounds he's not all that big, but he's extremely athletic and will be used in a variety of ways. He might be a junior, but he gets three years of eligibility left. He's the small, speed option while 6-2, 223-pound redshirt freshman Ben Thompson brings more power. The coaching staff targeted him in the recruiting process to get a bigger, stronger back to get more physical. Not just a thumper, he was a star high school sprinter.

The Spartans want to get more out of the fullbacks with 6-1, 265-pound junior Ray Rodriguez and 6-1, 240-pound junior Ina Liaina each being used as blockers. Rodriguez is a former defensive lineman and tight end who'll be a blaster for the ground game, while Liaina is a former linebacker prospect with good athleticism and the hands to be used as a short-range receiver.

Watch Out For … more from Rutley. He's way too good a talent to not get fed the ball 20 times a game, every game. The flow of the games didn't give him too many chances to get rolling, but the goal has to be to make him the offense and control the ball more.
Strength: Rutley and quickness. If Rutley can get any blocking whatsoever, he could be among the best backs in the WAC. Freeman can fly, and all the Spartan backs can catch.
Weakness: Production. The team gained just 1,021 yards and seven touchdowns with 186 of the yards coming in the season finale against Idaho and 178 coming against Nevada. There was a two-game stretch against Boise State and Fresno State when the Spartans netted zero yards.
Outlook: There's talent and athleticism in the SJSU backfield and there's potential for the ground game, but after the team ran for 100 yards or more just four times and scored six of the seven touchdowns in three games, there's lots of work to do to get the good backs into the open.
Unit Rating: 5


State of the Unit: The good receiving corps of last year loses the top target Jalal Beauchman and his 60 catches, but that's it. There are enough good returning talents to help out the new starting quarterback. Spreading the ball around won't be a problem.

Sophomore Noel Grigsby turned into a surprise playmaker finishing second on the team with 56 catches for 822 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 14.7 yards per catch. A star recruit a few years ago, he's a 5-11, 170-pound speedster with great leaping ability and the raw skills to be the team's No. 1 target. He exploded against Utah State for seven catches for 185 yards and finished up with eight catches for 93 yards, and now he has to get used to being the main man.

6-2, 200-pound sophomore Kyle Nunn had a nice true freshman season making 24 catches for 250 yards and two scores bringing good size and nice hands as he grew into the job over the course of the season. He caught six passes for 90 yards and a score against Fresno State, and now he's going to be one of the team's most reliable receivers in combination with senior Josh Harrison, a good veteran who'll start in three-wide sets. One of the team's fastest players, the 5-11, 185-pounder was used a bit as a runner with 34 yards on seven carries, and he caught 19 passes for 260 yards averaging 13.7 yards per play. 119 of his receiving yards came on a five-catch day in the loss to UC Davis, and he has the skills to do far more.

Sophomore Chandler Jones came up with an eight catch for 113 yards and a score against Wisconsin, and he was a nice complementary receiver throughout the year with 54 catches for 474 yards and a score. At 5-11 and 174 pounds he's a thin player who won't do much blocking, but he's a smart, reliable route-runner.

6-6, 235-pound junior tight end Ryan Otten was expected to be a featured player in the passing game early on, and he was decent catching 24 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Polished with nice route running ability and great hands, the ability is there to be a big, tough receiver who can stretch the field a bit. He'll be backed up by the combination of JUCO transfers Max Miller and Travis Lorius who'll add more size. The 6-6, 255-pound junior from Iowa Western College can catch, but he's bulky and can hit, while the 6-5, 245-pound Lorius comes in from Foothill College as a big receiver.

Watch Out For … Grigsby as a No. 1 receiver. Beauchman was a big, fast receiver who was a dangerous playmaker throughout last year, but Grigsby can do even more. He doesn't have the same size as Beauchman, but he's a speedster who can stretch the field.
Strength: Experience. Beauchman led the team, but the next five top receivers from last year are back. There's more than enough talent to go with three and four-wide sets without a problem.
Weakness: Sure-thing starting quarterback. The Spartans have several good options, but Jordan La Secla was a veteran bomber who was able to get the passing game going. There's going to be a big transitional period no matter who's under center.
Outlook: This could be the team's biggest strength. Grigsby, Harrison, Nunn, and Otten are as good a group as any in the WAC, and if they get good quarterback play to get them the ball, the production should be excellent. Everyone will get the ball as the passing game is spread around, and everyone will get a chance to produce.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: The hope was there for a big improvement under the new coaching staff with the jobs and the blocking schemes being simplified, but the production didn't come. The Spartans gave up 32 sacks and didn't do anything for the running game that finished second-to-last in the nation. Three starters are returning and there's plenty of hope for more production with everyone knowing what they're doing, but the production for the ground attack has to come.

Senior Fred Koloto is one of the team's most versatile linemen able to work at guard or tackle, and he'll start out this year working at left guard. The 6-3, 300-pound veteran has had back problems and has the athleticism to be a key pass protector, but he'll have to be the anchor early on for the running game. He'll be backed up by sophomore Ryan Jones, a 6-4, 284-pound smart, tough athlete who'll block bigger than his size.

6-6, 295-pound junior David Quessenberry isn't the biggest of blockers, but he hit the weights and filled out his frame more adding more than 20 pounds last year. He went from being a key backup to a decent starter at left tackle, and now he has to use his athleticism and experience to do more. 6-4, 258-pound redshirt freshman Keith Bendixen is a quick, young athlete who'll serve as the main backup.

Senior Robbie Reed was knocked out for the year early on with a knee injury when he was supposed to be the starting center and the leader of the line. The 6-3, 290-pounder has the experience and he's a big blocker who can work at guard if needed, and he'll be an upgrade for the running game. 6-3, 272-pound sophomore Reuben Hasani is a smallish quick option who'll take over the job next year.

6-4, 305-pound senior Andres Vargas was a key part of the blocking rotation for a few years and then took over the right tackle job last season. Now the big, strong veteran will get the call once again and he should once again be a mauler. The former California state-championship level wrestler can beat up defenders. JUCO transfer Jon Mayer is a 6-5, 284-pound ready-made blocker who can handle himself in pass protection.

It'll be a combination of sophomores Nicholas Kaspar and Jon Meyer at right guard. Kaspar started last year as a true freshman, and he added over 20 pounds of weight over the offseason and should be a stronger run blocker at 6-4 and 292 pounds. The 6-3, 305-pound Ngatuvai is a defensive tackle prospect by nature and has the athleticism to be good on the move.

Watch Out For … more run blocking. The coaching staff made a very big point of wanting to get the ground game going last year, and it didn't happen. This year, with enough size and veterans to get a push, there will be more of an effort to pound away.
Strength: Experience. This was a veteran group going into last year, and now it's really experienced with all five starters knowing what to do. This is a nice-sized line that should be more cohesive.
Weakness: Blocking. The line was miserable at pounding away for the running game on a consistent basis. The pass protection wasn't that bad, but it wasn't a plus. The Spartan front five has to find something it does well.
Outlook: There's enough experience and returning talent to hope for more for the ground game. There's strength and toughness among the starting five, and while the backups are a bit light, things should be better if everyone can stay healthy.
Unit Rating: 4.5

- 2011 San Jose State Preview | 2011 San Jose State Offense
- 2011 San Jose State Defense | 2011 San Jose State Depth Chart
- San Jose State Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006