Caragher cautiously optimistic of team before spring game

San Jose State Head Coach Ron Caragher discusses the Spartans' progress through spring.

San Jose State head football coach Ron Caragher expressed encouragement with a side of caution, heading into Saturday afternoon’s spring game.

Speaking with Inside the Spartans on Monday, Caragher said that last year’s Cure Bowl title carried momentum into 2016, whether with recruiting or spring camp.

“It was an awesome experience, and it certainly propelled our team forward into 2016 on a high note,” said Caragher.

Last Saturday, the team held a scrimmage open only to members of its booster organization, the Quarterback Club.

“I saw as physical a scrimmage as I’ve seen in my four years here,” commented Caragher. “Guys were getting after [the ball]...I saw a lot of guys flying around, playing fast.”

Caragher also acknowledged that there is still room for improvement.

“There is a lot of cleaning up that we need to do,” said Caragher. “The physicality was there, the effort was there...but I think there’s a lot of tuning up and correcting.”

The mistakes, Caragher added, were due in part to scheme adjustments on both offense and defense. He responded to those mistakes by telling players that he would rather see mistakes during camp than the regular season.

Some players also need to improve their strength and conditioning, in preparation for the two major conference opponents on the upcoming schedule, Iowa State and Utah.

“We have a number of guys who need to make strides in the weight room just to become bigger and stronger,” said Caragher.

On the coaching staff, Caragher has a completely new defensive coaching staff, from defensive coordinator to position coaches. Days after the retirement of Greg Robinson, Caragher decided not to retain defensive line coach James Jones and outside linebackers coach Joe Staab, both of whom had been on staff since Caragher’s first season in 2013. In the past three seasons, the rushing defense has given up 5.0 or more yards per rushing attempt.

“As a head coach, I’ve had to make some tough calls over the years, and I felt it was the right thing to do, and I needed to do it for the program,” he added.

Caragher named fifth-year senior linebacker Mark Amann as a candidate to watch for the long snapper position, as one of three special teams positions to replace following the graduations of placekicker Austin Lopez, long snapper Ryan DiSalvo, and holder Chris Kearney. Also competing for special teams positions are junior college transfers Gianfranco Fortino (long snapper) and Jake Lanski (placekicker), in addition to returning punter Michael Carrizosa and placekicker Bryce Crawford. Also, with senior wide receiver Tyler Winston out with an injury, freshman Bailey Gaither and sophomore Rahshead Johnson have had more playing time.

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