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San Jose State

College Football

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After four-straight losing seasons in the MWC, San Jose State will turn to a new head coach yet again with Ron Caragher out the door and Brent Brennan in, who comes over after a few years as receivers coach with Oregon State. The Spartans have a good base with 15 returning starters to help in Brennan’s first season, but that doesn't mean this team will jump to the top of the conference.

Quarterback is still undecided after four guys battled it out in the spring. Sophomore Josh Love has the leg up after failing to win the job last season as a freshman, tossing two TDs to five picks. From an offense that struggled to score, there is some hope this group can score more than 25 points per game. Most of that hope comes from a line that returns every starter. The problem is that they gave up a nation-high 50 sacks last year. With better play and more consistency from the line, this offense has some playmakers even if quarterback isn’t decided. Running back returns the relevant pieces from Malik Roberson (508 yards) to Zamore Zigler (423 yards). It’s the same at receiver with Justin Holmes (613 yards), Tre Hartley (572 yards) and tight end Josh Oliver.

But while the offense is a question, the defense is the area of the field that can keep SJSU competitive. The Spartans gave up close to 35 points and almost 250 rushing yards per game, but have the pieces to improve. The secondary will remain a strength and one of the better ones in the MWC with top talent in Andre Chachere at corner and Maurice McKnight at safety. The big thing will be for the front seven to pick up the slack, starting with new leader Frank Ginda (99 tackles) at linebacker. In a new 3-4 alignment, the front needs help whether from returning starters in Bryson Bridges and Owen Roberts, or Arizona State transfer Jamal Scott.

Getting to a bowl game will be tough, even with 13 games, mainly because SJSU’s non-conference schedule is extremely difficult with Cal Poly the only likely win. The Spartans will have the opportunity to get out to a fast start in the conference with home games against USU and FSU, while trips to UNLV and Hawaii are winnable. But if they can’t win either of those road games, another 3-5 MWC record is in the cards unless upsets against SDSU or Wyoming occurs in November.

With the big question at quarterback, there’s no reason to expect more than four wins this season. The path to victory will require a major improvement from the defense and more of a running game. Otherwise, due to a difficult non-conference schedule, four wins is the likeliest total for Brennan’s first season. Unsurprisingly, SJSU has +5000 odds to win the conference (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), placing them a spot above Fresno State at +6500.


2017 San Jose State Spartans Football Schedule

Aug. 26 vs. South Florida
Sept. 2 vs. Cal Poly

Sept. 9 at Texas
Sept. 16 at Utah

Sept. 23 vs. Utah State
Sept. 30 at UNLV
Oct. 7 vs. Fresno State

Oct. 14 at Hawaii
Oct. 28 at BYU
Nov. 4 vs. San Diego State
Nov. 11 at Nevada
Nov. 18 at Colorado State
Nov. 25 vs. Wyoming

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