2013 San Jose State Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - San Jose State Spartan Offense
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Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Kaboom. The Spartan passing game was terrific in 2011, but it was inefficient and didn't explode. Thanks to the emergence of quarterback David Fales, the attack was occasionally unstoppable finishing sixth in the nation in passing and third in passing efficiency. Expect more of the same with a loaded receiving corps returning and four starters back on a decent line that should give Fales more time to work. The running game will never be special, but there are a slew of quick backs with the upside to combine forces to replace De'Leon Eskridge. But it'll all come down to Fales, who needs to come up with a repeat performance for the team to have any chance in the Mountain West.
Star of the offense: Senior QB David Fales
Passing: David Fales
327-451, 4,193 yds, 33 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Tyler Ervin
45 carries, 205 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Noel Grigsby
82 catches, 1,307 yds, 9 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior RB Tyler Ervin
Unsung star on the rise: Senior TE Travis Lorius
Best pro prospect: Fales
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Fales, 2) WR Noel Grigsby, 3) WR Chandler Jones
Strength of the offense: Passing Game, Experience
Weakness of the offense: Running Game, Physical Line
Last year at this time, senior David Fales was in a dogfight for the starting job. What followed was one of the best and most surprising performances of the season, finishing third in the nation in passing efficiency completing 73% of his passes for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns with just nine picks. The 6-3, 220-pound former JUCO transfer originally signed with Nevada before throwing for 4,635 yards and 37 scores for Monterey Peninsula College, and now he's going to be in the spotlight with NFL scouts looking hard at his size, arm, decision-making ability and accuracy. While he's not going to run, he's not immobile and can slide around well in the pocket, and he does a nice job of getting rid of the ball in a hurry and getting through his progressions in a hurry. There was only one game with more than one pick – throwing two in the win over Texas State – and he hit the 300-yard mark seven times and in five of the last six games. Now the job is firmly his, and he needs to prove he can continue producing at the same high level.
Junior Blake Jurich is another big, strong passer with better size than Fales, but the 6-4, 230-pound bomber wasn't able to do much last season through the air completing just 5-of-11 passes for 66 yards and a score in his limited time. However, he's a good athlete used from time to time as a runner, pounding away in a bulldozer role finishing third on the team with 174 yards and three scores. He'll hold the No. 2 job, while sophomore Joe Gray is the three. While he's not huge, he's a smart, accurate passer who got in a little mop-up work completing 3-of-4 passes for 23 yards.
Watch Out For … Gray. Jurich has the line on the starting job for 2014, Gray might be dangerous enough to be a great option to push for the gig. He needs more time and more opportunities to show what he can do, but he might not be able to get it.
Strength: Fales. One of the best quarterbacks in the program's history, he's a potential NFL starter with one more big year. You can't teach accuracy, and he has it. Everything else can be tweaked and worked around.
Weakness: Backup experience. Fales did so much for the attack last season that Jurich couldn't do much more than work as a runner and a garbage time producer. Gray didn't get enough time to be ready. Both backups have talent, skill and upside, but Fales is at a whole other level.
Outlook: The passing game was among the best in the WAC two years ago, and last season it was a big question mark. Now it's a major strength with a nice pecking order and a superstar in Fales to count on as a signature star.
Unit Rating: 8.5
Leading rusher De'Leon Eskridge is gone, and now it'll be up to junior Tyler Ervin to uses his speed and quickness to become an all-around playmaker. The 5-10, 186-pound Ervin turned into the team's second leading rusher with 205 yards and a score while catching ten passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He did his best work as a kickoff returner, averaging a sensational 27.2 yards per pop, but he missed most of the second half of the year with a shoulder injury.
Also in the mix for time is the big power two some of Lemaki Musika and Chris Dadson. The 6-1, 245-pound Musika was supposed to be a linebacker when he came to San Jose State, and now he's going to use his physical style to pound away for the ground game. Dadson is a huge runner with the hands to be used as a short-range receiver. At 6-1 and 235 pounds, he's a fullback-style blocker, but he can get some carries, too.
Trying to work into the rotation behind Ervin is veteran Jason Simpson, a 6-0, 207-pound senior who ran just 11 times for 26 yards and didn't catch any passes. Mostly a special teamer, and considered a possible linebacker, he's physical and isn't afraid to pop, but he needs to bust out a good run now and then to get more carries.
Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Alvin Jelks, a 6-1, 190-pound is a slippery-thin runner who cranked out good numbers in high school before going to Hartnell College cranking out 2,552 yards and 28 touchdowns in his two years. With great speed, he could quickly find a role as a big play option as a runner or receiver.
Strength: A blend of speed and power. If everything goes according to plan, Ervin, Jelks, Simpson and true freshman Osirus Burke can move and should form a nice rotation, but the power will be left up to Dadson and Musika.
Weakness: Proven production. Ervin was great when he was healthy, but he has yet to show he can last for a full season. Even with a superior passing game to take the heat off, the ground game didn't take advantage averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Outlook: Eskridge was the running game cranking out 1,025 of the team's 1,475 yards and 11 of the 17 rushing scores. Ervin can be that guy if he can stay healthy, but he could use some help. The fullbacks have to bring the power, but a rotation of speedsters will be the key.
Unit Rating: 5
The Spartans get a third year of senior Noel Grigsby as the No. 1 receiver, making 89 catches for 886 yards and two touchdowns in 2011, and becoming more dangerous down the field last season with 1,307 yards and nine touchdowns on 82 catches highlighted by an 11-catch, 181-yard, two touchdown day against Utah State. The 5-11, 175-pound veteran is quick and with an uncanny ability to always get open, and last year he showed the speed and playmaking skills to become more dangerous with three straight 100-yard games to finish off the season. He'll combine forces with Jabari Carr, a 6-0, 190-pound junior who finished second on the team with 62 catches for 639 yards and four scores. While he didn't come up with the big plays Grigsby did, he was extremely steady with seven games with six grabs or more, helped by an eight-catch, 108-yard, two touchdown day in the win over Colorado State. A field stretcher, the local product should be able to do even more after averaging 10.3 yards per catch.
Senior Chandler Jones was second on the team two years ago with 61 catches for 566 yards and two scores, proving to be more reliable than dangerous, but that all changed last season with a whopper of a year, using his excellent speed and crafty route-running ability to come up with 54 catches for 691 yards and a team-leading 11 scores. At 5-11 and 174 pounds he's not all that big, but he's able to work his way open. Spreading out six touchdowns over the last six games, he was dangerous over the second half of the season after catching two touchdown passes early on against UC Davis and Colorado State. He'll be backed up by 5-8, 160-pound redshirt freshman Tim Crawley, who came to the Spartans as a dangerous running back and great defensive back, but now he'll use his speed and quickness in the receiving corps.
Losing tight end Ryan Otten and his reliable hands and deep speed really hurts, but 6-4, 248-pound senior Travis Lorius has the raw look and ability to become dangerous despite catching just a nine-yard pass. The former JUCO transfer out of Foothill College, he's a good blocker who can get open. He'll combine with 6-3, 235-pound redshirt freshman Billy Freeman, a terrific recruit last season who's built like a huge wide receiver.
Watch Out For … tight end Ryan Ena, a 6-5, 260-pound sophomore JUCO transfer who has better size than Lorius and Freeman with fantastic hands and route running ability. He caught 43 passes for Palomar College after working as a high school wide receiver and top basketball player, and while he was expected to go to Idaho, now he should be an athletic factor for the Spartans.
Strength: Wide receiver. The top three are back with Grigsby, Carr and Jones as dangerous as any trio of targets outside of the BCS programs. Grigsby and Jones are proven deep playmakers, while Carr is a reliable veteran with the skills to do even more.
Weakness: Tight end. Ena has the potential to be a good one, and Lorius and Freeman should mesh right away with David Fales, but Otten was a great one catching 47 passes for 742 yards and four scores.
Outlook: The tight ends will be fine with a little bit of time. One of the team's biggest strengths over the last few seasons, now it should be devastating with Grigsby, Carr and Jones all talented and all experienced. Only injuries will take away from the production, but the backups have to prove they can handle the workload when needed.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The line wasn't exactly a plus, allowing 26 sacks and not doing enough for the ground game, and now it needs to replace NFL-caliber blocker David Quessenberry at left tackle. 6-5, 270-pound sophomore Wes Schweitzer will move over from his job as the backup right tackle to take over the job. While he's not huge, he's quick, extremely smart and has the raw tools to be a nice pass protector. He'll battle with 6-5, 270-pound redshirt freshman Evan Sarver for the job, and either one could work on the right side. Athletic, he's a left tackle with the upside to add 15 pounds of good weight and be a pounder.
Back at his starting right tackle job is senior Jon Meyer, a former JUCO transfer from Foothill College with 6-5, 284-pound size and plenty of experience. He's a big-bodied blocker who's athletic enough to be decent as a pass protector and consistent enough to be one of the anchors up front.
Returning to the middle is center Reuben Hasani, a quick 6-3, 284-pounder who bulked up over the last few years and proved he could be a good quarterback up front. Built like a guard with good run blocking skills, he generates decent power for his size, but he's at his best when he's able to wall off his man. Adding more bulk at the position is 6-5, 290-pound junior David Peterson, a physical lineman who came to SJSU as a possible defensive tackle, but he's a center who can slip in anywhere on the inside if needed.
Junior Ryan Jones is a smart, tough athlete who's great for the left guard spot with 6-4, 298-pound size and quick feet. He and 6-4, 284-pound junior right guard Nicholas Kaspar are veterans for the interior. They're both better for the passing game, and while they can shove a bit, they're not going to blast over bulkier defensive fronts on a regular basis. Kaspar is like a beefed up tackle, adding over 20 pounds over the last few seasons.
Watch Out For … A.J. Samataua, the best prospect of the new batch of recruits for the line. At 6-3 and 295 pounds he has decent size, and he could get even bigger to be the bulky-tough guard the team needs. He's quick and can pull, and there's a chance he eventually ends up taking over at center.
Strength: Experience. Losing Quessenberry is going to be tough, Jones, Hasani, Kaspar and Meyer are all veteran starters who should gel to form an even stronger line, while Schweitzer and Sarver should be decent with a little time at left tackle.
Weakness: Run blocking. It's been a problem for years, and while it's not necessarily the job of the San Jose State offensive line to beat people up, it would be nice if there was more of a push. This is a passing team, but getting more than 113 yards per game on the ground is a must.
Outlook: With the experience and athleticism returning, the Spartans should be solid up front and should do a better job of keeping David Fales upright. There will never be much going on for the ground attack, but overall this will be an efficient and effective group.
Unit Rating: 5.5
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San Jose State Offense
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