CFN Preview 2013 - San Jose Spartans
San Jose State QB David Fales
San Jose State QB David Fales
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 14, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - San Jose State Spartans


San Jose State Spartans

Preview 2013
 

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Ron Caragher
1st year: 0-0
Ten Best SJSU Players
1. QB David Fales, Sr.
2. LB Keith Smith, Sr.
3. CB Bene Benwikere, Sr.
4. WR Noah Grigsby, Sr.
5. DT Travis Raciti, Jr.
6. LB Vince Buhagiar, Sr.
7. WR Chandler Jones, Sr.
8. WR Jabari Carr, Jr.
9. DT Anthony Larceval, Sr.
10. OG Nicholas Kaspar, Sr.
2013 Schedule
8/29 Sacramento State
9/7 at Stanford
9/14 OPEN DATE
9/21 at Minnesota
9/27 Utah State
10/5 at Hawaii
10/12 at Colorado State
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 Wyoming
11/2 at UNLV
11/9 San Diego State
11/16 at Nevada
11/22 Navy
11/29 Fresno State
San Jose State is a truly different place with a truly different program, and now it’s going to try to take another big step forward to become a bigger deal. Considering there was some question about whether or not the school could still afford a football program just under a decade ago, this is a massive moment that’s coming at the perfect time.

It’s not like the place is a traditional powerhouse, with just two winning seasons from 1993 to 2011, and it’s not like there’s a huge fan base, with a total – TOTAL – attendance of 64,732 for all six home games in an epic 2012, but that could change in a big hurry if the success of last season can continue. If the Spartans can do that on a regular basis in Mountain West play, all of a sudden, this will be one of the hot new programs.

If nothing else, last year’s San Jose State team was just plain fun. The defense sent everyone into the backfield all the time, and the results were tremendous with a whopping 42 sacks and 92 tackles for loss. The offense came up with a dream of a find in quarterback David Fales, who ran one of the nation’s most efficient and effective passing attacks on the way to the program’s first 11-win season. And now most of the key parts are back.

Fales returns for what should be an audition for the NFL, and he has a terrific receiving corps returning with the top three wide receivers back including all-star Noel Grigsby. Four starters are back on the offensive line, and there’s speed in the backfield to come up with a little bit of help for the passing attack.

The defense that made a night-and-day improvement after an awful 2011 will make some changes, but it has a brilliant corps to build around with linebackers Keith Smith and Vince Buhagiar, corner Bene Benwikere and tackle Travis Raciti four all-star talents who should be among the best statistical playmakers in America at their respective positions. There’s more speed and athleticism ready to rise up and fill the holes and keep the production going.

But there’s one big loss – Mike MacIntyre.

The head coach who made everything happen will try to work the same miracle at Colorado, and now it’s up to Ron Caragher to keep the momentum going after cranking up high-octane offenses for San Diego. He’s a proven winner who should be the right guy to take over the right program at the right time, but he can he make it shine in the far tougher Mountain West? He has the pieces in place to do it, and now it’s about maintaining more than rebuilding. He can do that, and San Jose State might have to prepare itself for actually being good at college football.

What to watch for on offense: Can the offensive line get the job done? The Spartans are going to throw and keep on throwing with a superstar under center and a loaded receiving corps that should blow up again. Can the line keep Fales upright? It did a decent job last season considering the offense threw the ball 468 times. Fales will get the ball out of his hands in a hurry, and the line gets four starters back and should be decent as long as Wes Schweitzger or Evan Sarver can step in and take over for David Quessenberry at left tackle. Now defenses are going to load up to make more big plays in the backfield and bother Fales – the line has to be ready.

What to watch for on defense: The 3-4. Not much will change in terms of aggressiveness and sending the speedsters into the backfield, but the alignment will look a little different. The hybrid outside linebackers and defensive ends on the outside will be in charge of getting to the quarterback, but the three tackles up front can zip behind the line, too. The big change last season came because of the pressure, and that has to continue against the improved competition.

The team will be far better if … the running game could provide just a little more help. David Fales and the passing game will take care of the offense, but it would be nice if the ground game could provide a little more help. The Spartans netted just -15 yards with a score in the bowl win over Bowling Green, but in the regular season, the running attack was stuffed for just 70 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Stanford and finished with just four yards against Utah State in the second defeat. Four of the five games with 100 rushing yards or more were double-digit victories, and the fifth – with 243 yards and four scores – was a nine-point win in the shootout win over Louisiana Tech.

The schedule: The Spartans will have three key games early on at Stanford, at Minnesota and in the Mountain West opener against Utah State to show just how strong this year might be after last year’s epic turnaround. If they can get to October 2-2 with a win over one of those three and a layup against Sacramento State to open up the year, it should be smooth sailing for a while with winnable games at Hawaii, at Colorado State, against Wyoming and at UNLV before the huge final four weeks with West battles with San Diego State, at Nevada and Fresno State which will decided the division title. Missing Boise State from the Mountain is a gigantic break, playing Colorado State, Wyoming and Utah State from the division.

Best offensive player: Senior QB David Fales. He turned into everything the program could’ve dreamed of and more. Originally with Nevada, he took off early on and went the JUCO route, bombing away for Monterey Peninsula College where he hit 62% of his throws for 4,635 yards and 37 scores, and then he came in to San Jose State last season and lit up the WAC, completing 72.5% of his throws for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns with just nine picks. Big, smart and with unteachable accuracy, he’s quickly growing into a top pro prospect, and while he doesn’t have a howitzer, he can hit on his short-to-midrange throws time after time.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Keith Smith. There’s no argument whatsoever if you want to make a case for pass-rushing tackle Travis Raciti, ball-hawking corner Bene Benwikere or outside linebacker Vince Buhagiar, but Smith is the ringleader and top tackler. He’s not all that big at 6-1 and 229 pounds, but he’s a guided missile on the inside with the ability to get to everything. He’s the one who gets to everything the line doesn’t take care of, and he’s the four-year starter who knows exactly what everyone is supposed to be doing.

Key player to a successful season: Junior RB Tyler Ervin. There are several spots on the defense that need a little bit of help, and the offensive line could stand to be a bit stronger, but considering how much De’Leon Eskridge meant to the running game, Ervin, Jason Simpson and Osirus Burke have to give the offense a little bit of balance. That’s easier said than done.

The season will be a success if … The Spartans win ten games. It’ll take a few upsets to get there, and it’ll probably take a bowl victory to do it, but after last season, the bar is set high. There might be several big changes on both sides of the ball and in the coaching staff, but there’s too much talent available to expect much of a drop-off from last year.

Key game: Nov. 9 vs. San Diego State. To have any prayer of winning the West, the Spartans have to start out a brutal late run with a big win at home. If the Spartans blow it against the Aztecs, they’ll be in a must-win situation at Nevada the next week with Fresno State still on the slate to deal with. SJSU won a 38-34 thriller last year in San Diego, and a win this year would set the tone for the finishing kick.

2012 Fun Stats:
- 3rd Quarter Scoring: San Jose State 127 – Opponents 51
- Time of Possession: San Jose State 32:15 – Opponents 27:45
- Sacks: San Jose State 42 for 225 yards – Opponents 26 for 195 yards
 
- 2013 San Jose State Preview | 2013 San Jose State Offense
- 2013 San Jose State Defense | 2013 San Jose State Depth Chart