The San Jose State Spartans have been another team consistently near the bottom of the conference standings. Last season, after getting hammered by injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball, the team won just one game…losing to teams like New Mexico State and even the University of California-Davis. The good news is it’s almost impossible for the Spartans to have a worse season than in 2010. But, how much better will San Jose State be?

The offense

The biggest question surrounding San Jose State’s offense was at its quarterback position. Senior quarterback Matt Faulkner would seem to be a shoo-in, but it becomes a question of whether San Jose State wants to try and win now, or develop one of their young quarterbacks for the future, though with Tate Forcier transferring to San Jose State and eligible to play in 2012, maybe they’re just buying time until then.

The team’s receiving core will have to prove itself this season. Noel Grigsby, the team’s second-leading receiver in 2010, returns as the team’s top wideout. However, no other returning receiver had more than 500 yards receiving or three touchdowns. One of these players will need to step up in order to take some of the focus off Grigsby.

The rushing attack, which gained just 1,410 yards combined all of last season, will also need to step up and be more productive. Otherwise, San Jose State’s going to have problems scoring on anyone this year.

The defense

The Spartans gave up more than 200 yards on the ground, more than 460 total yards per game and more than 30 points per game. That would be a recipe for disaster on any team. By all accounts by local media, during the spring, the team’s rushing defense didn’t exactly show too many signs of improvement. If the defense is going to improve, it’ll likely be because sophomore Keith Smith is leading the charge. The conference’s Freshman of the Year in 2010, Smith had 116 tackles and 14 tackles-for-loss. Meaning? Opposing offenses must know where he is on the field at all times.

Senior Duke Ihenacho will also have to have a big year to help the team’s defense improve.

Special teams

Place kicker Harrison Waid was…far from a sure thing last season. He made 14-of-22 field goal attempts in 2010. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence does it?

2011 season

The good news? The team doesn’t open its season against Alabama like last season. The bad news? The team opens its season at Stanford, at UCLA and hosting Nevada. The team also plays at Brigham Young University.

To put it simply, the team does have one of the more experienced teams in the conference, and should win more than one game. But, two or three wins might be all it gets to.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at