The San Jose State Spartans open up the season at home against Northern Colorado at CEFCU Stadium. The Brent Brennan era has gotten off to a slow start, but there has been a lot of growth in the roster and coaching staff as he begins year number three at the helm of the Spartans.
Brent Brennan is an offensive coach and had seven returning starters his first year in 2017, but SJSU dropped from 24.4 ppg and 378 ypg to just 15.8 ppg and 318 ypg. Last year with eight returning starters, I expected for a large jump in the offensive numbers. They ended up averaging 21.2 ppg and 322 ypg in 2018. This year, seven starters are back and a much more veteran offensive line should help SJSU make great strides, especially in the run game (#130 rushing offensive in 2018), which they put a huge emphasis in the spring on improving.
Defensive Coordinator Derrick Odum uses a fill and flex defense designed to confuse opponents. In his first year in 2017 with eight starters back, they slipped and allowed 41.7 ppg and 499 ypg. Last year, they had six starters back and had to replace the No. 1 tackler in FBS in Frank Ginda (173 tackles), which they ended up allowing 36.6 ppg and 495 ypg. This year, six starters return and 13 of the top 18 tacklers are back. I expect them to be better and allow around 32 ppg and 430 ypg.
In 2017 SJSU had a first-time head coach, along with a first time OC and DC. They had 15 returning starters, but I said it would be a rebuilding year. They ended up going from 4-8 (in 2016) to 2-11 in 2017. Last year they had 14 returning starters and it was surprising that they slipped back to 1-11. They did miss three overtime field goal’s against Hawai’i and lost to San Diego State by three points and on the road against Oregon by just 13 points, but more wins were expected. This year 13 starters return for the Spartans. Coach Brennan feels the Oline is much better which will help that run game on offense. They do have a solid linebacking duo in Ethan Aguayo and Jesse Osuna. SJSU moves from #65 to #40 on my experience chart and quarterback Josh Love should be much improved. That Spartans also have a softer schedule and had three net close losses in 2018, which are both signs pointing up. This is an improved squad, and despite having a manageable schedule, they’re still a year or two away from making noise atop the Mountain West Conference.
3-9 Overall and 1-7 MWC (6th in MWC West Division).