Updated on July 12, 2023
BRent Brennan has quietly built in San Jose.
SJSU is making progress under Brennan, but the work isn’t done yet.
I preview San Jose State’s upcoming season below and take a look back at last season and examine the offense, defense, and system.
2022 in Comments
The Spartans didn’t let their opponent down, going 0-7 against top 25 opponents during the season and looking for a bowl win after dropping two of their bowl games under Brennan.
San Jose State also fell to Western Michigan 41-27 in the Idaho Potato Bowl last December, but getting to a bowl game in the last three years is an accomplishment in itself.
Chevan Cordeiro enters his sixth fall in Mountain West football after starting his career with Hawai’i before winning the starting QB job with San Jose State last season.
Cordeiro did it all for the Spartans in 2022, throwing for a conference-best 3,251 yards and rushing for an additional 265 yards.
(He actually gained 568 yards on the ground but had 303 yards on offense…
Cordeiro opened the season with 170 passing yards before his first inning and racked up 300 yards passing four times including 366 on the road.
TA great player has a lot of experience, talent, and confidence on offense.
The Spartans would also be better off with Jay Butterfield, the big name from Oregon, but I think it’s safe to say that San Jose will be better off waiting another year to see him lead the offense.
Cordeiro’s 265 yards on the ground were the second most on the Spartans last season, Kairee Robinson led the way with 752 yards, and he will return to run the ball.
The Spartans will need to create more on the ground and a more consistent attack this season.
They can find that in Quail Conley who rushed for 1,095 yards at Utah Tech in 2022. Conley could be a piece of the puzzle that makes the game run as well as Robinson’s compliment.
Elijah Cooks emerged as a threat in the offseason last season and put big monsters as a target for Cordeiro. Cooks will be in Jaguars camp this summer, but the Spartans have pieces to fill the same position.
Justin Lockhart should pick up a lot of slack and step into the No. 1 spot. 1. Lockhart averaged 16.1 yards per reception in 2022 and should see his 36 receptions nearly double.
He may not look as good this year as Cooks did last year, but it won’t be a bad thing. This is a Spartan team that needs to be filled with depth among the passers.
Dominick Mazotti and Sam Olson are both back at TE after splitting jobs last season. Mazotti can put up All-Conference-type numbers if he stays healthy.
Nick Nash moves from QB to WR who along with Charles Ross and slot receiver Isaac Jernagin will combine with Lockhart to provide one of the best receiving units in the Conference.
Now about those negative yards. Last year San Jose State allowed 42 sacks after giving up just 44 combined in the previous three years. The 3.5 sacks allowed per game was 123rd among FBS programs.
The lineup is packed with action as all five starters return. At a glance, all eight players who started in the lineup in 2022 will be back this season.
So the good news-the bad news: action, yes, and the same guys who allowed more sacks than all but seven teams last year.
Watch this episode for the best. The chemistry and continuing to be together must pay.
Sand Jose State has many holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, as five of the seven forwards will be new faces.
In 2022, the Spartans had one of the best trips in the Mountain West.
They led the conference and were sixth in the nation with 3.25 sacks per game and their 7.08 TFL per game ranked 16th in the nation and second in the MW.
San Jose State needs to overhaul its entire D-Line. Rush completes Cade Hall and Villami Fehoko along with NG Lando Gray both gone.
Fehoko was the MW defensive player of the year and Hall was an All-Conference First-Team player. They obviously have other options and will go the JUCO route to get a replacement.
This sector is coming from the main power in 2022 to 2023.
The defenders return Byrun Parham and Jordan Pollard with Jordan Cobbs back in the lineup following an ACL last season.
With Matthew Tago entering the mix from Oregon State, this could be a very strong linebacker group. It’s a team that needs to be consistent and make plays, especially early in the season when the lineup is on the rise.
The defensive backfield could be the unit’s strength this season.
Tre Jenkins will be the leader of this team on defense. Playing alongside him will also be senior Chase Williams and outside linebacker Kenyon Reed.
That gives the team four returners from a team that ranked sixth in the nation in 2022 with a +11 rating this season.
Even in that position, the Spartans can be a solid defense.
2023 Utah State Football Schedule
September 3 against Oregon State
September 9 vs. Cal Poly
September 16 in Toledo
September 23 vs Air Force
October 7 at Boise State
October 14 in New Mexico
October 21 vs Utah State
October 28 in Hawaii
November 11 vs Fresno State
November 18 against San Diego State
November 25 at UNLV
This season, and the Spartans open with two Pac-12 rivals on the trip to USC to open things, then a trip from Oregon State.
The Spartans won’t win any of these games but should come out strong. Cal Poly and a trip to Toledo close out the non-conference schedule.
In the Mountain West games, San Jose State faces Air Force, Utah State, Fresno State, and San Diego State. The only other big boys the Spartans have to go to is Boise State.
He gets a full week to prepare for this and his teammates ahead of the championship game against Fresno State. New Mexico is the only team on SJSU’s schedule that will be out with a week to go before their tournament begins.
There are a few holes to fill, of course, but this team still needs to win games. Defense pressure will come, and it’s a matter of how quickly things can be cut.
In that case, look behind the ball-hawking to make a play and get the ball back.
As soon as it comes, putting a bad team into a cohesive unit this season is the only thing that will keep the team in the bowl game for at least a 7-6 2022 campaign.