Spring ball was an exploratory period for San Jose State as new coach Mike MacIntyre tried to figure out what players he had and what he could do with them.
Now comes the hard part -- developing a plan for those players and implementing it in the fall.
The Spartans were awful last year, particularly offensively, and there isn't much reason to believe they will be improved this year. The question marks start at quarterback and tailback, two positions that haven't provided much production in recent years.
Returning starting quarterback Jordan La Secla was 21-for-35 for 196 yards with one TD and one interception in the Spring Game. That could be a sign that he's ready to put a stranglehold on that position.
Defensively, the Spartans have had trouble with depth and injuries. The depth problem isn't going away this year, so they'll need to find a way to stay healthy.NOTES, QUOTES
--Special teams coach Tim Landis was promoted to offensive coordinator midway through spring ball. Offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze left the team for personal reasons after two months.
--Most Spartans practiced on offense and defense during the first half of spring ball so the new coaching staff could make evaluations. About 11 players are being considered for two-way play.
TE Ryan Otten -- The returning starter showed in the Spring Game that he might be a factor in the pass game this year. He contributed three catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, including a 55-yarder.
QB Jordan La Secla -- La Secla is fighting with transfer Matt Faulkner for the starting job. In the Spring Game, La Secla was 21-of-35 with a TD and an interception. Faulkner was 10-for-25 with three interceptions.
WR Marquis Avery -- Avery, who was in the doghouse at times under coach Dick Tomey, might benefit from the coaching change. The talented receiver had 10 catches for 98 yards in the Spring Game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The guys who play both ways will have a primary position and a package (of plays) that they fit into on the other side of the ball. I really believe that will help us win a game or two." -- San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre, to the San Jose Mercury NewsSTRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: The Spartans were 2-10 last year and 1-7 in the WAC, with an abysmal offense. New coach Mike MacIntyre will bring a fresh approach and probably some excitement to the team, but it's difficult to imagine the Spartans making a run in the WAC this year. There is some experience -- particularly on offense -- but the returners haven't been productive.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Spartans return nine starters, including four offensive linemen with at least 10 career starts, quarterback Jordan La Secla, wide receivers Marquis Avery and Jalal Beauchman and running backs Lamon Muldrow and Brandon Rutley. Sounds good, right? La Secla showed progress last season but threw 11 interceptions against 10 touchdowns passes. Muldrow, Rutley and the running game averaged 2.6 yards per carry. And those offensive linemen allowed 34 sacks.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Seven starters return on defense. The strength is the secondary, which returns two-time All-WAC first-teamer Duke Ihenacho and playmaker Tanner Burns at safety. Cornerback Peyton Thompson, linebacker Pompey Festejo and lineman Pablo Garcia also should have good years. Rebuilding the line is a major priority because the Spartans have been gashed by the run the last season and a half.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Punter Philip Zavala might have been the Spartans' best player last year. He's gone -- and they don't have anyone in line to replace him. That's a problem for a team that punted 72 times last year. Kicker Tyler Cope returns but didn't have many chances to prove himself last year. The Spartans need to find a spark in the return game.
QB Matt Faulkner -- The transfer from Mt. San Antonio College joined the program in January and immediately jumped into the race for the starting job. He spent two years at Fresno State earlier in his career.
QB Dasmen Stewart -- The dual threat redshirted last year and also will be part of the quarterback competition. With his running ability, he may have a role even if he doesn't start.
DE Ahkeem McKinney -- The Pasadena College transfer could give the Spartans immediate help on the defensive line, an expected weakness. He had 9.5 sacks last season.
--Wade O'Neill has moved from linebacker to H-back.
--Defensive backs Devin Newsome and James Orth have moved to wide receiver.
--Defensive end Keenan Brown has moved to tight end.
--Safety Jason Simpson has moved to linebacker and may play tailback, too.
Previous Report: 04/09/2010