2009 San Jose State Spartans Football Preview
2008 Record: (6-6, 4-4)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Dick Tomey (23-25 at San Jose State, 181-135-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Morton
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Burns
Other Key Returnees: C Ronnie Castillo, LB Justin Cole, DT Adonis Davis, G Ailao Eliapo, OT John Konye, G Isaac Leatiota, DE Mohamed Marah, OT Jon Moreno, S Devin Newsome
Key Losses: TE Jeff Clark, S Kyle Flynn, CB Coye Francies, DT Jarron Gilbert, RB Yonus Davis, CB Christopher Owens, WR David Richmond, K Jared Strubeck
Once again San Jose State barely missed out on a bowl game. In 2007 they were 5-7 and in 2008 they were bowl eligible with a 6-6 record, but were left out of the mix. The goal this year is to not just be bowl eligible, but actually get invited to a bowl game. With seven starters returning on both sides of the ball, it is certainly a feasible goal.
San Jose State 's Strengths:
The Spartans sported one of the best defenses in the Western Athletic Conference in 2008 and that should not change in 2009. The talented group in the middle of the field returns all three starters, led by do-it-all Duke Ihenacho. The 6-1 junior tallied 66 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and five interceptions last season. Now that he is an upperclassman, Ihenacho will be the leader of the unit. Yet, Travis Jones was the team’s leading tackler last year and Justin Cole is a fine tackler and does a great job getting into the opponents backfield. Those three by themselves are good, but together they are great. Ihenacho helps out in pass coverage, Cole gets pressure on the quarterback and Jones is a tackling machine. The front four returns three starters and Carl Ihenacho is a superb end, but this team will probably not rank 11 th in the nation again in sacks without Jarron Gilbert. The secondary has similar losses with Coye Francies and fellow corner Christopher Owens and safety Kyle Flynn, but there are talented, albeit less experienced, players ready to fill the void.
San Jose State 's Weaknesses:
If the offense was a little better, SJSU would have won seven or eight games last year. However, there is some hope for improvement. Quarterback Kyle Reed is now an experienced senior. He will make some mistakes, but generally Reed is an efficient quarterback. He will not win games on his own, but as long as he does not lose them either the Spartans will be happy. The offensive line gave up a slew of sacks so Reed’s lack of production is not all his fault. And even David Richmond, who seemed to catch every pass Reed threw, is gone. The line returns all five starters for better or worse, but who is going to catch the ball? Terrance Williams only caught 22 passes for 288 yards a year ago and he was second to Richmond in receiving yards last year. Somebody better step up or Reed will be in for a long year.
The Bottom Line for the Spartans:
Reed, if he can keep the quarterback job, will be in more trouble if the ground game does not improve. Yonus Davis was the best ball carrier on the team last year and he is gone and that leaves Brandon Rutley as the likely candidate to carry the load. Coach Dick Tomey always prides himself on defense, but this team can only go so far on defense alone. Somebody, somewhere has to emerge as a playmaker on the other side of the ball if San Jose State wants to get back to a bowl game.
By Joel Welser
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