2007 San Jose State Preview

Posted May 14, 2007

San Jose State was one of the nation's biggest surprises last season, and now almost all of the key parts are back led by All-America corner Dwight Lowery. Was it a one-year mirage, or are the Spartans going to challenge for the WAC title?

San Jose State Spartans

Preview 200

Pete Fiutak

- 2007 SJSU Offense Preview | 2007 SJSU Defense Preview
2007 San Jose State Depth Chart | 2006 CFN San Jose State Preview 

With Wake Forest winning the ACC title, Rutgers running to national prominence and Boise State stealing everyone’s heart in the Fiesta Bowl, the job done by Dick Tomey to turn around one of the nation’s most woeful programs got swept aside.

To put what Tomey has done into perspective, San Jose State was a program just teetering on the verge of extinction, with no fan base, no interest of any kind from the area, and a roster made up of way too many JUCO transfers to allow for any continuity. It’s like if someone had taken over, well, San Jose State, and made it a winner. It was that big a deal and that great a job.

Head coach: Dick Tomey
3rd year: 12-12
27th year overall: 170-122-7
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 21, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Spartan Players
1. LB Matt Castelo, Sr.
2. CB Dwight Lowery, Sr.
3. QB Adam Tafralis, Sr.
4. RB Yonus Davis, Sr.
5. DE Jarron Gilbert, Jr.
6. CB Christopher Owens, Jr.
7. DE Justin Cole, Soph.
8. PK Jared Strubeck, Jr.
9. LB Demtrius Jones, Sr.
10. P Waylon Prather, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Sept. 1

at Arizona State

Sept. 8

at Kansas State

Sept. 15

at Stanford

Sept. 22

at Utah State

Sept. 29

UC Davis

Oct. 6


Oct. 12


Oct. 20

at Fresno State

Nov. 3

at Boise State

Nov. 10

New Mexico State

Nov. 17

at Louisiana Tech

Nov. 24


2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 2-10

2006 Record: 9-
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 at Washington L 35-29
9/9 Stanford W 35-34
9/23 Cal Poly W 17-7
9/30 San Diego St W 31-10
10/14 Utah State W 21-14
10/21 at Nevada L 23-7
10/28 Louisiana Tech W 44-10
11/4 at NMSU W 31-21
11/11 Boise State L 23-20
11/18 at Hawaii L 54-17
11/25 at Idaho W 28-13
12/2 Fresno State W 24-14
12/23 New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico W 20-12

This is a program that had one winning season since 1992, hadn’t gone to a bowl since 1990, and had won five games over D-I teams over three years. Tomey and his team built on a two-game winning streak to end 2005, roaring to a nine-win season and a stunning bowl victory over New Mexico. Now this team is on the verge of a lot more.

Adam Tafralis is a veteran quarterback who’s seen just about everything in WAC play, the backfield is full of speed and production, and the defense, Tomey’s specialty, could grow into the league’s best with seven starters returning, led by interception machine Dwight Lowery at corner.

Most importantly, there’s still the San Jose State brand name. After being so bad for so long, teams still aren’t likely to take the Spartans seriously (that means you, Arizona State and Kansas State), so they should be able to steal a win or two, while also being in the thick of the WAC race all season long.

No one will want to play Hawaii or New Mexico State because of their offenses, and Boise State is always going to be strong, but San Jose State might be the toughest overall team in the WAC. Considering where things were two years ago, that’s nothing more than minor miracle. 

What to watch for on offense: A nasty running game. With the top three receivers gone, taking away 141 of the 181 catches, the ground attack will be everything early. Yonus Davis is the lightning, James Callier is the thunder, and Patrick Perry is a little bit in between. Throw in the mobility of Tafralis, and this should be one of the WAC’s better running teams.

What to watch for on defense: Takeaways, and lots of them. The Spartans forced a whopping 30 last year with the style of defense that made Tomey famous at Arizona with its Desert Swarm. The young line of last year is now full of veterans meaning there should be a pass rush, and there will be plenty of bending, but don’t expect too much breaking. Take out a meltdown in a 54-17 loss to Hawaii, and the Spartans allowed an average of 18 points a game against everyone else.

The team will be far better if … the defense can generate more pressure. It’s hard to argue with the Spartan scheme that forced turnovers by the bunch and ended up finishing third in the WAC, but it would be nice if the front four could start getting to the quarterback. The Spartans cranked out just 18 sacks and 63 tackles for loss. That’ll change with ends Jarron Gilbert and Justin Cole ready to explode, but there needs to be more pressure from the interior.

The Schedule: If you accept that the drive to Palo Alto to play Stanford counts as a road trip, the Spartans play their first four games away, followed by three home dates. The early WAC stretch is a killer, playing at home against Hawaii, at Fresno State and at Boise State, with the Nevada showdown to close the regular season. Outside of the conference, trips to Arizona State and Kansas State will be interesting tests to see how far the program has come. Stanford is a winnable game, while UC Davis should be a layup.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Adam Tafralis. No one made a bigger leap in production than Tafralis, who went from being an erratic, inconsistent passer who couldn’t hit half his throws and gave away the ball too often, to a smart decision-maker who took care of the ball, finishing 11th in the nation in passing efficiency. He has decent size, a good enough arm and can run a little, when necessary.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Dwight Lowery and/or Senior LB Matt Castelo. They both belong. Castelo is the nation’s leading returning tackler after cranking out 165 last year from his spot in the middle, while Lowery will combine with Christopher Owens to give the Spartans the WAC’s best cornerback combination. With good size at 6-1 and 185 pounds and decent speed, the former JUCO transfer will be avoided at all costs after picking off nine passes last year and breaking up seven.  

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore WR Jalal Beauchman and senior WR Michael Hooper. James Jones, John Broussard and Chester Coleman made 141 of the team’s 181 receptions and caught 18 of the 23 touchdown passes. They’re all gone. Beauchman caught two passes for 16 yards and Hooper checked in with three grabs for 21 yards. Either they need to grow into reliable targets, or the Spartans need to hope the five newcomers in the recruiting class can play right away.

The season will be a success if ... the Spartans finish with a winning record and go to a bowl. That might seem like setting the bar a bit low after a nine-win campaign and the New Mexico Bowl win, especially with a veteran team returning, but the schedule is a bit rougher. Considering the program hasn’t had back-to-back winning seasons since 1991-1992, and hasn’t gone to back-to-back bowls since 1986-1987, another postseason trip would be a nice accomplishment.

Key game: Oct. 12 vs. Hawaii. The Spartan defense had better be ready for the onslaught. This is a must win, or there might be an ugly three-game slide with road trips to Fresno State and Boise State to follow.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- 1st quarter scoring: San Jose State 52; Opponents 58
- 2nd quarter scoring: San Jose State 112; Opponents 108
- Turnovers: San Jose State 21; Opponents 30


Related Stories
2007 San Jose State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007
2007 San Jose State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007
2007 San Jose State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 14, 2007

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