San Jose State
By: chalifour.eric | 5/5/12, 12:32 PM EDT
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You can read the entire San Jose State preview in Athlon Sports' 2012 National magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
#98 San Jose State
HEAD COACH: Mike MacIntyre, 6-19 (2 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Brian Lindgren | DEF. COORDINATOR: Kent Baer
The focus for the Spartans entering fall camp is quarterback, but not exactly the way third-year head coach Mike MacIntyre had planned it.
This was supposed to be the season that highly touted Michigan transfer Tate Forcier, who started for the Wolverines in 2009 and backed up Heisman Trophy contender Denard Robinson in 2010, would take over quarterbacking duties at San Jose State. But Forcier suddenly withdrew from school in January, opening up a three-man battle for the starting position.
The competition involving junior Dasmen Stewart, sophomore Blake Jurich and midyear junior college transfer David Fales will carry over until fall camp. By most reports, Fales seemed to have the edge after spring practice. He completed 16-of-23 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown in the Spring Game.
Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will work with an experienced group of receivers. First-team All-WAC pick Ryan Otten was one of only two FBS tight ends to rank among the top-100 players in receptions per game. Junior wide receiver Noel Grigsby set a school record with 89 receptions in 2011.
The offensive line must replace three starters but returns left tackle David Quessenberry, a second team All-WAC pick, as well as guard Nicholas Kaspar.
The Spartans are counting on Minnesota transfer DeLeon Eskridge and senior David Freeman, who began his career at Washington but missed most of last season with a broken arm, to replace second-team All-WAC running back Brandon Rutley. Eskridge rushed for 698 yards and seven touchdowns at Minnesota in 2010.
The Spartans return four starters from a unit that finished in the bottom half of the WAC in most categories.
Defensive end Travis Johnson, a first team All-WAC choice after compiling 9.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss, anchors the defensive line that also returns tackle Travis Raciti. Another tackle, Anthony Larceval, was one of the stars of the team’s final spring scrimmage with three sacks.
Junior Keith Smith, a two-year starter who has already amassed 220 career tackles, heads the linebacker unit.
The Spartans must replace two-time first-team All-WAC pick Duke Ihenacho at safety, but the coaching staff believes his backup, senior Cullen Newsome, is up to the task. He’ll be joined by safety James Orth, who started every game last year, and cornerback Ronnie Yell.
Junior Harrison Waid returns to handle punting and kickoff duties, but the Spartans must replace placekicker Jens Alvernick, who connected on a school single-season record 18 field goals last season. Waid and freshmen Alex Anastasi and Austin Lopez will battle for that duty. Tyler Ervin ranked fourth in the WAC in kickoff returns with a 24.0-yard average as a freshman, including a 95-yarder for a touchdown at Utah State.
MacIntyre signed a well-deserved contract extension through 2017 after leading the Spartans to a respectable 5–7 finish, a four-win improvement over 2010 that included road wins at Colorado State and Fresno State and a home win over Navy. The Spartans lost three other games by a field goal or less.
With a solid nucleus returning that includes four starters who earned all-conference recognition a year ago and a much more favorable schedule in the revamped WAC, look for the Spartans to make a strong run at bowl-eligibility this year.