San Jose State Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice
The Spartans will look to get back to the top of the Mountain West with plenty of new faces and new challenges to meet.
What does the path back to the top of the mountain look like?
Brent Brennan’s San Jose State Spartans had a down year in 2021, but don’t mistake that for being out for good.
After the offense scuffled for much of the season, the Spartans didn’t waste a lot of time addressing that issue through the transfer portal in the early off-season, re-establishing themselves if not as a front-runner for the Mountain West crown then as an opponent with aims not to be taken lightly. Now, the on-field work to put all of the new pieces in place to recapture the conference title begins.
We back baby.
— San José State Football (@SanJoseStateFB) March 2, 2022
What will the offensive line look like?
The Spartans are hardly alone in launching a quarterback competition this spring — in their case, Hawaii transfer Chevan Cordeiro and incumbent Nick Nash seem likely to be the primary contenders — but even more pressing is finding reliable replacements along the offensive line, for what had been one of the most experienced units in the conference. Left tackle Jack Snyder is gone, but so are center Kyle Hoppe and guard Trevor Robbins.
San Jose State brought in a healthy number of reinforcements, though, and do return both Jamie Navarro and Tyler Stevens. Transfer portal arrivals James McNorton (Washington State) and Bryce Petersen (Akron) might quietly have been the team’s most important pickups in that regard. Petersen, in particular, had 28 starts for the Zips at center, giving the Spartans a proven entity at a key position with whom they can move forward.
Who will help shore up the secondary?
The SJSU offensive line isn’t the only position group looking for a few new contributors. Safety Jay Lenard and cornerback Bobby Brown II have moved on, as well, meaning that the playing field for new ballhawks to shine is fairly open.
So who will step into the breach and help out veterans like Tre Jenkins, Nehemiah Shelton, and Kenyon Reed? Mikael Greer, B.J. Johnson and others saw varying degrees of playing time throughout last fall, but the race to replace a pair of key contributors figures to be one that should last a while. Whoever looks like they can help the Spartans improve on their six interceptions from a year ago could give themselves a substantial leg up.
Who could step up and shoulder Tyler Nevens’s workload?
Nevens was the engine who made San Jose State’s running game go for five years, racking up 2,556 rushing yards at 4.6 yards per attempt in his collegiate career. Perhaps more importantly, carries by Spartan running backs not named Tyler Nevens over the past five seasons averaged just 4.15 yards per carry, a not insignificant difference.
It might just be that now is the time for Kairee Robinson to take on a bigger role since he’s had no more than 82 carries in a season but has emerged as a reliable pass-catcher, but Brennan’s history suggests that he’s comfortable with running a committee as well because Nevens never averaged more than 15 carries per game in a season. This spring could be a springboard for veterans like Shamar Garrett, Charlie Bostic III and Kenyon Sims to earn a bigger role.