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San Jose State
San Jose State's goal last season was to reach a bowl game and they did just that, finishing 6-7 overall, tied for second in the MW West division. Of course, the Spartans only reached five regular season wins and beat Georgia State in the Cure Bowl, but it was a positive a year after three wins. Now with returning talent on both sides of the ball, a better bowl game is expected from head coach Ron Caragher in his fourth season.
The return of quarterback Kenny Potter is exactly what they need to improve on last year's 27.9 points per game. Potter was fine in his first season under center, completing 67.4% of his passes for 15 TDs and 7 INTs, but should improve with the same tools around him. Most of his top receivers are back led by tight end Billy Freeman (586 yards, 6 TDs), Tim Crawley (424 yards, 5 TDs) and Tyler Winston (368 yards, 2 TDs). Sophomore Justin Holmes is expected to step into the starting lineup and be effective out of the gates.
The offensive line is in good shape with four starters returning including Nate Velichko and Jeremiah Kolone on the left side. All of them are juniors, so this is a group that is building together. Of course, running back is still a question with stud Tyler Ervin gone from the mix. Thomas Tucker is the top returnee, but any number of guys will be competing for snaps starting with Malik Roberson and Jarrod Lawson. At the least, Potter is able on the ground after going for 415 yards and 7 TDs last year.
The defense is in a similar situation, a year after having one of the best pass defenses in the country, allowing just 157.8 yards per game. Of course, they were bad against the run, but it's still something to work with.
Former Eastern Michigan coach Ron English takes over as the coordinator and plans on bettering that run defense. The line returns three starters so that's a building block to go with a decent linebacking core that includes all-conference player Christian Tago as well as play-making sophomore Frank Ginda. The secondary lost the most pieces and has some questions with guys in new positions, but safety Maurice McKnight should keep the group from falling apart.
Winning two non-conference games would be huge, but it won't be easy. Road games at Tulsa and Iowa State will be tricky and winning one of those would be huge, while SJSU gets to host Utah this year. A somewhat favorable schedule should lead the way to yet another four wins in MWC play, if not more. The Spartans host Hawaii, Nevada and UNLV with road games at New Mexico and Fresno State possibly deciding if they make a bowl game or not.
Their over/under is at 6 at 5Dimes (under -190 in early June), but considering the talent returning to the group, it'd be a surprise if they reached just five wins. The opportunities are there for them to reach six regular season wins and if so, there's still a bowl game to reach seven.
2016 San Jose State Spartans Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Tulsa
Sept. 10 vs. Portland State
Sept. 17 vs. Utah
Sept. 24 at Iowa State
Oct. 1 at New Mexico
Oct. 8 vs. Hawaii
Oct. 15 vs. Nevada
Oct. 21 at San Diego State
Oct. 29 vs. UNLV
Nov. 4 at Boise State
Nov. 19 vs. Air Force
Nov. 26 at Fresno State
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