San Jose State Preview 2006 Further Analysis
San Jose State Spartans
Posted Aug 9, 2006

San Jose State Spartans Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The Basics – West coast teams are supposed to throw the ball, right?  Throw it a lot, huh?  Uh, not necessarily.  USC ran it extremely well last year.  Cal should be able to run on anyone this season.  And, the Spartans’ ability to run the football might just put them in the hunt for a bowl game for the first time since the 1990 California Raisin bowl.  (Yes, we all heard it through the grapevine).  Plus, we’re all for breaking down stereotypes in college football, so it’s nice to be able to put that stereotype to bed.  The Spartans’ running attack really took hold over the last half of the season, as they averaged over 200 yards per game over their final five games of the year.  RB Yonus Davis was a big reason for the turnaround, but so was an offensive line that was solid both against the run and the pass, giving up only 14 sacks all season long.  Davis is pocket dynamite when he has the ball and averaged nearly 7 yards every time he touched it in the running game.  His quickness and short, stocky stature make him so difficult to bring down, especially as he runs behind one of the best offensive lines in the league.  As long as he stays healthy, Davis should make a serious bid for first team All-WAC honors along with guys like Robert Hubbard from Nevada and Dwayne Wright from Fresno State.  The offensive line returns four starters from last year’s unit, and the fifth should be a 6’6” 335 transfer from Arizona State, Bradis McGriff.  They don’t have a dominant presence on that line, but as a group, they work extremely well together, as evidenced by Davis’s performance in the run game.  Running the ball is one of the basic tenets of winning football and the Spartans have that one down pat.

2nd and Seven – The Tackling Machine – At 5’10” and just over 200 pounds, linebacker Matt Castelo is smaller than former safety star Josh Powell, who unfortunately exhausted his eligibility last season.  But, make no mistake, Castelo is a guy who won’t disappoint with his ability to go sideline to sideline.  He registered 91 tackles, which was second on the team behind Ezekiel Staples, and should go for triple digits this season.  The Desert Swarm defense needs a smart and active linebacker to control and dictate what needs to be done on defense, and Castelo provides those traits.  The bad news is that only one other starter returns from last year’s unit, but the good news is that, overall, the coaches feel the talent that fills those other nine positions is at potentially a higher level than what took the field in 2005.  Considering the Spartans gave up 10 points less per game, that’s really good news.  Regardless, Castelo is the man who’ll make it all go (his defense) and stop (opposing defenses).

3rd and Three – The JUCO Star – Although the Spartan defense doesn’t return many starters from last year (well, if you think two implies ‘many’), the Spartans do return their QB.  But, he may not even start in 2006.  Last year’s signal caller Adam Tafralis was in and out of the lineup and threw for just over 1,800 yards.  He has dual threat potential, but his 49.7 completion percentage just isn’t good at all.  Enter Sean Flynn, 6’3”, 215 uber JUCO stud, who has designs on starting from day one.  After transferring from LA Harbor College, Flynn arrived in time for spring practice to push for the starting spot and could very well unseat Tafralis as soon as fall camp rolls around.  He’s physically capable of running and throwing the Spartans up and down the field against WAC defenses; it’s just a matter of stealing away that position from Tafralis.

4th and One – The Turnaround – When Dick Tomey was handed the San Jose State program in early 2005, it was hard to gauge what more Tomey could do with the program that Fitz Hill hadn’t done before him.  But, Tomey had built Arizona’s program throughout the Desert Swarm days, fit in nicely at the University of Texas and was ready for the challenge that was San Jose State football.  Well, after a 3 – 8 season, many would wonder what Tomey really did for this team, but look closer at what they accomplished.  They lost three WAC games by seven points each – turn those into the win column and the Spartans would’ve had a winning season. Sure, that’s a massive “if”, but 3 and 8 doesn’t truly depict how far they came last season.  They gave up ten points fewer per game and also found a deadly, powerful running game that could run on anyone, anywhere.  The physicality on both sides of the ball showed that SJSU wouldn’t be just another “off-week” in the WAC.  They might be the epitome of “dark horse”, but if the youngster/inexperience on defense can jell and Flynn is everything that the Spartan staff expects, Boise State and Fresno State might have a blue and gold fly in their championship ointment.

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