What you need to know ... The offense was just starting to
find itself over the second half of last year and should be far
more effective this season thanks to a strong line with four
returning starters led by tackle Matt Cantu. The running game
has four good options with the most talented runner of the
bunch, freshman Dominique Hunsacker, on the way. The receivers
are decent, but nothing special. The real focus will be on the
quarterback situation where it'll be a three-way battle into the
fall to find someone who can get the completion percentage to
Passing: Adam Tafralis
142-286, 1,810 yds, 11 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Yonus Davis
95 carries, 638 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: James Jones
30 catches, 278 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Senior OT Matt Cantu
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QBs
Sean Flynn and Adam Tafralis
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C Justin Paysinger
Best pro prospect: Cantu
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Cantu, 2) RB Yonus
Davis, 3) WR John Broussard
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback, wide receiver
Nothing was settled in spring ball with
incumbent Adam Tafralis and JUCO transfer Sean Flynn playing in
a tie for the starting job. Chad Bozzo, the best runner among
the quarterbacks, will get an equal shot to win the number one
slot when he comes back this fall from a shoulder injury. J.P.
Greco, who saw time in three games, was moved to safety. Whoever
ends up under center has to be more accurate; Spartan
quarterback completed 47.5% of their passes last year.
The key to the unit: Consistency and accuracy. The
Spartans need a quarterback who can keep up the pace in WAC
Quarterback Rating: 4.5
- Sean Flynn, Jr.
The JUCO transfer played extremely well in spring ball making it
a neck-and-neck race with Adam Tafralis for the starting job.
The 6-3, 215-pound junior threw for 292 yards per game at LA
Harbor College and showed off decent running skills with six
scores and 331 yards. He'll have to be accurate to get the
opening day call.
- Adam Tafralis, Jr. - 142-286, 1,810 yds, 49.7%, 11
TD, 10 INT, 47 carries, 100 yds, 2.1 ypc, 3 TD
Can Tafralis be get his completion percentage up? He has been in
the starting mix for the last two seasons and has only completed
49% of his throws. He has a nice arm and enough mobility to make
some big plays here and there, but he didn't do nearly enough to
keep the offense moving on a consistent basis.
- Chad Bozzo, RFr. - 13-33, 155 yds, 155 yds, 39%, 12
carries, 55 yds, 4.6 ypc
The most mobile of the quarterback options, Bozzo saw time in
the opening three games of the year before getting knocked out
for the year with a shoulder injury. He's not a passer and will
need to show later this summer that his legs are enough to make
him a viable candidate for the starting job.
The Spartans didn't have the steadiest of ground games
until the final five games of the year, but it was effective and
provided several big plays from the diminutive Yonus Davis. The
top four running backs return with an interesting blend of speed
and power, and they'll all be used throughout the season. There
isn't a sure-thing number one workhorse, but there doesn't
necessarily need to be.
The key to the unit: More consistency. Take away a
few long Yonus Davis runs and the overall rushing numbers
quickly go down. The ground game needs to hover around 175 yards
a game for the Spartans to win.
Running Back Rating: 5
- Yonus Davis, Jr. - 95 carries, 638 yards, 6.7 ypc, 4
TD, 7 catches, 48 yds, 6.9 ypc
Generously listed at 5-7 and 180 pounds, Davis is a home run
hitter who needs the ball in his hands more often. He isn't
going to be a 25-carry-a-back sort of player, but he can be a
game-changer like he was at the end of last year tearing off 150
yards and two touchdowns against New Mexico State and 136 yards
against Fresno State, each on only 16 carries. He's lightning
quick on the outside.
- Fullback James T. Collier, Jr. - 37 carries, 127 yds,
3.4 ypc, 2 TD, 8 catches, 86 yds, 10.8 ypc
The 221-pound junior will get a few carries here and there as a
power back. He starts out his career as a linebacker and saw
most of his touches last season over the final few games. He'll
mostly be used as a blocker and an occasional receiver.
- Al Guidry, Sr. - 73 carries, 314 yds, 4.3 ypc, 2
TD, 6 catches, 51 yds, 8.5 ypc
A big tailback, the 220-pound senior came over from the JUCO
ranks and turned into the team's second leading rusher getting
most of his work in the middle of the season before finishing up
with a 65-yard day in the win over Idaho. Not a gamebreaker,
he's a four-yards-a-crack power runner.
- Patrick Perry, Soph. - 65 carries, 239 yds, 3.7 ypc, 2
TD, 3 catches, 38 yds, 12.7 ypc
The quick sophomore finished third on the team in rushing
getting four double-digit carry games highlighted by a 49-yard,
two touchdown effort against San Diego State. He has the speed
to be used as a kickoff returner as well as a third running back
Dominique Hunsucker, Fr.
Here's the running game in the near future. The team's top
recruit averaged 7.8 yards per carry as a high school senior and
scored 24 touchdowns. He's 5-10 and 190 pounds with blinding
speed; he was a star 100-meter sprinter at Valley Christian High
in San Jose.
- Fullback Donte Collins, Jr.
Able to play either fullback or tailback, Collins redshirted
last year and now will starter off behind James T. Collier. The
213-pound JUCO transfer could be a ten-carry-a-game back if
Leading receiver Rufus Skillern and All-WAC tight end
Bryan Watje are gone, but there are plenty of returning targets
to work with.
John Broussard has the potential to be one of the WAC's
most dangerous deep threats if he's used a bit more, while James
Jones is an experienced veteran who should do find in Skillern's
place. Chester Coleman and Michael Hooper aren't prefect
prospects, but they've been around long enough to be effective.
The biggest hole to fill will be at tight end where it'll be an
open audition for the job. Out of spring ball, former defensive
end Jason Cain got the early nod.
The key to the unit: Jason Cain has to be the
reliable target Bryan Watje was, and James Jones has to blossom
into a number one receiver.
Receiver Rating: 5
- James Jones, Sr. - 30 catches, 278 yds, 9.3 ypc, 1 TD,
8 carries, 48 yds
He has the speed to be a top deep threat and has the size at 6-1
and 196 pounds to be effective inside or out. Now he has to be
more dangerous after growing into a steady number two receiver.
He has way too much speed and athleticism to only be averaging
9.3 yards per kick. He's used once a game as a runner and is the
team's top punt returner.
- John Broussard, Sr. - 26 catches, 361 yds, 13.9 ypc, 5
Broussard finished third on the team in receiving for the second
year in a row and finished second with five touchdown grabs
highlighted by a two-catch, 70-yard, two touchdown day to close
out the season against Idaho. He might only be 6-1 and 165
pounds, but the former running back is one of the WAC's fastest
- Tight end Jason Cain, Soph.
It'll be up to the 235-pound sophomore to replace All-WAC tight
end Bryan Watje, who finished last year averaging 16 yards per
catch. He's not nearly the blocker Watje is, but the former
defensive end has good athleticism and great upside.
- Chester Coleman, Sr. - 9 catches, 214 yds, 23.8 ypc, 2
Coleman made the most of his nine grabs last year with an
80-yard touchdown against Louisiana Tech and showing big-play
ability as the season wore on. The former walk-on is
neck-and-neck with James Jones for a starting spot and will see
time on special teams.
- Michael Hooper, Jr. - 1 catch, 6 yds
A rail-thin 5-9 and 146 pounds, Hooper has to try to break into
the mix with his quickness. He only saw time in two games last
season catching his lone pass against Hawaii, and now he'll back
up John Broussard.
- Tight end Nick Marchini, Jr.
A pure blocker at 6-2 and 281 pounds, the former defensive
tackle will see plenty of time in two tight end sets and will
push Jason Cain for a few catches.
This could be the best line the Spartans have had in a
long time after jelling into a great run blocking force at the end of
last year and allowing a mere 14 sacks. Matt Cantu is a burgeoning All-WAC
performer at tackle, and there's decent experience and better overall
athleticism with the four returning starters in much better shape. The
one question mark is at right tackle where sophomores Chris Danser and
Bradis McGriff will battle for the job, but it should turn out to be
The key to the unit: Keep everyone together. The
starting five should form one of the WAC's better lines if everyone can
Offensive Line Rating: 6
- OT Matt Cantu, Sr.
One of the WAC's best linemen, Cantu moved over from center to left
tackle and the running game exploded. He's one of the team's most
experienced blockers getting better and better over the last few years
and now is a decent 6-3, 290-pound pro prospect.
- OG Marcel Burrough, Sr.
The former JUCO transfer got in better shape going from 352 pounds to
322 pounds and now should be a far more effective all-around blocker.
He's great for the running game and should do a fantastic job on the
left side when combined with Matt Cantu.
- C Justin Paysinger, Soph.
Paysinger took over the starting spot last year and started to flourish
by the end of the season. He slimmed down from 290 to 275 pounds and
should be far quicker and far more effective as the man in the middle
for the next three years. .
- OG John Booker, Jr.
Booker is a two-year veteran who started as a true freshman. He's 6-4
and 300 pounds with great upside at left guard. He's not an All-WAC
performer quite yet, but he has the potential.
- OT Chris Danser, Soph.
The only new starter on the line, the 6-6, 295-pound sophomore will
battle with Bradis McGriff to take over at right tackle. He's not as big
as McGriff, but he's quick.
- OT Bradis McGriff, Soph.
The Arizona State transfer will either take over the starting right
tackle spot or be a key reserve on the other side. At 6-6 and 335
pounds, he's one of the teams biggest players and should be a major
factor over the next three seasons.
- OG Ronnie Castillo, RFr.
While not all that big at 6-0 and 277 pounds, that's not a bad thing for
a line that's looking to be quicker and more mobile. He'll start out
behind John Booker on the right side.
- OG David Giesen, Jr.
The 283-pound junior saw a little bit of time last season and should be
an effective backup on the right side. He's not going to be a dominant
blocker, but he can fill in and do fine.