Anyone that has an inkling of college football knowledge can pinpoint the Spartans primary deficiency last season - a stagnant offense.
Even with the team's offensive struggles many analysts believe the 2008 squad got shafted on a bowl bid at the conclusion of the season.
The Spartans completed a 6-6 record, which would automatically put you in a bowl game in most power conferences, but that isn't always the case in the WAC.
Perhaps it was losing the last three contests after starting the year 6-3 that prevented the Bowl Brain Trust from including the Spartans in one of the 34 featured games. Most likely it was the fact that San Jose State ranked 112th out of 120 Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense.
The program focused on alleviating its offensive shortcomings by grabbing one of the keenest football minds the Bay Area has to offer this offseason. Terry Malley was named the Quarterbacks Coach last month and will share the play-calling duties with Head Coach Dick Tomey.
Coach Tomey returns 52 letter winners from last season and has brought in some outstanding junior college diamonds in the rough. The team should be in position to contend for postseason play in 2009, but needs to make improvements in a plethora of areas.
The conversion to a spread offense last season created an unexpected learning roadblock for San Jose State's attack. Injuries plagued running backs and quarterbacks as well which is never a recipe for success on any football team.
Kyle Reed, who started nine games in 2008, is the frontrunner for the starting quarterback position. He was injured last spring so didn't get a full season under his belt and started slow, but the Cal-transfer has shown signs of immense talent. The coaching staff has pointed out that they want to utilize his mobility in a greater fashion this season. If Reed struggles however, senior signal caller Myles Eden could find himself in the mix early.
Junior college transfer Lamon Muldrow from Sierra (2,915 yards, 44 TDs) has already impressed in spring practice with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Patrick Perry is a powerful downhill runner who is healthy again after missing the last two seasons with injuries. These two backs should provide a boost to what was sometimes a non-existent ground game last year.
Replacing David Richmond at the wideout position is a tall order but JUCO transfer Marquis Avery could be just the player to fill it. Avery, coupled with the expected return of standout receiver Kevin Jurovich who missed most of 2008 with mono, puts the Spartans in position to have two legitimate threats on the outside.
The SJSU coaching staff has hinted that they want their offensive unit to be more physical in every aspect of the game. The offensive line will definitely need to possess more tenacity if it wants to improve upon the 2.5+ sacks given up per game last season.
The Spartans' defense was lauded by coaches and players around the NCAA in 2008 partially because of a trio of NFL prospects that shut down their opposition.
Losing defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert and cornerbacks Coye Francies and Christopher Owens will undoubtedly be tough to overcome, but there are a slew of veterans across the field eager to fill the voids.
Senior DE Carl Ihenacho was a beast in 2008 with 18.5 tackles for a loss and 7.0 sacks. If he can improve on those numbers just a hint and get help from fellow senior DE Justin Cole (5.0 sacks), not too many teams will have much time to drop back and rack up the pass yards against the Spartans.
In the secondary, another junior college transfer is expected to make an immediate impact while replacing the two future NFL players. Cornerback Brandon Driver makes his way to San Jose State from Santa Rosa College where he registered four picks last season before going down with a late-season injury.
The pass defense was stellar all of last season, as expected, but the run defense gave way toward season's end. This is an area that will need to be improved upon so opposing offenses don't play keep away by running the ball the majority of the game.