In a season that was shortened due to COVID-19, the San Jose State Spartans fought through adversity and state restrictions that prevented them from playing in their home stadium. They ultimately went on to win the Mountain West championship. Nobody expected the Spartans to even come close to the Mountain West Championship let alone winning the division. The San Jose State Spartans went into the season having some promise. However, nobody expected them to have the season and win the conference like they did. The Spartans ended up finishing the season 7-1. They went undefeated in conference play and finished the season in the AP top 25. The Spartans were led by Quarterback Nick Starkel, Conference Defensive Player of the year Cade Hall, and Mountain West Coach Of the year Brent Brennan. There was speculation as to if Brennan would leave San Jose State for Arizona. When it was all said and done, ultimately those rumors were untrue. Brennan ended up signing an extension to remain as San Jose State head coach through the 2023 season.
This season will be a bit different for the Spartans for obvious reasons. For starters they will be able to play in their home stadium this season. Everyone will be paying attention to the Spartans, as they will go into the season as the team to beat in the Mountain West. With teams like Boise state and Nevada gunning for their title, the Spartans will definitely feel the pressure from their rivals. A big plus for the Spartans is they will have some key pieces coming back for the 2021 season that were on their 2020 conference championship team.
Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Nick Starkel is back as well as Tyler Nevens and tight end Derrick Deese. The wide receiver spot is going to be a little bit of a question mark. The team loses their best two wide receivers: Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither. It will be up to Isiah Hamilton and Jermaine Braddock to carry the load in their absence. There isn’t a lot of talk about the offensive line. They should hold up fine with four-year starter Jackson Snyder leading the way, who is one of the top tackles in the conference and serves as the anchor for the offensive line.
For the defensive side of the ball, the Spartans were one of the top defenses in the nation. Do not expect that to change this season either. Viliami Fehoko is back to help Cade Hall on the defensive line. The Spartans will go into the season as one of the top defensive groups in all of college football. The entire linebacking core will be led by Kyle Harmon who led the Spartans last season with 78 tackles. The secondary will be a bit of a question mark as the Spartans lose Tre Webb (via transfer portal). It will be up to Tre Jenkins to carry the load in the secondary and cornerback Nehimiah Shelton as well.
San Jose State has been known to come up big in the transfer portal. Nick Starkel is a perfect example. However, this past off-season wasn’t the case, but they did land Michigan punter Will Hall, Illinois Running back Kenyon Sims, Oregon State Linebacker Matthew Tago and Nevada Wide Receiver Charles Ross. None of these transfers look like home run hitters like Starkel for the Spartans right away. However, time will tell if they work out for San Jose State or not.
Now let’s talk about the schedule before the final verdict. After the home opener against Southern Utah, the Spartans will get a good test early on as they will take on defending PAC-12 south champions USC. A good test early on for the Spartans and depending how their performance is against the Trojans could be a big indicator as to what 2021 could like for the Spartans. The team opens conference play against Hawaii on the road, a very tricky game as well especially with Hawaii’s high-powered offense. The big game though the Spartans should have circled is November sixth when they take on Carson Strong and a high-powered Nevada team on the road. Nevada will go into the season with the slight edge to come out of the west division over the Spartans. A lot of expectations around Nevada and maybe even a shot at being ranked if things go right for them. This game will more than likely determine who comes out of the west division and who goes on to the Mountain West Championship game.
Final predictions on the San Jose State team for this season. The defense should be just as good if not better with everyone mostly back. The offense may be a little iffy early on with a new receiving core. However, quarterback Nick Starkel can throw the football and Tyler Nevens can run the rock. Those two factors should make San Jose State fans feel good going into the season. Isiah Hamilton will be the wild card for the Spartans offense. He has the potential to be a first team all-American by the end of the season if everything works out. If the Spartans get through Nevada, the Spartans should find their way back to the Mountain West championship. They are a top three team in the conference for sure going into the season. They have a couple tricky games with rivals San Diego State and Hawaii. Getting Nevada on the road is a tough draw. The games with USC and Nevada are going to be tough on the road but outside of those two games the Spartans should be favored in every game this season. A ten-win season is definitely possible for the Spartans. Don’t be surprised if this team finds their way back to the Mountain West championship game this season. Time will tell for Brent Brennan and San Jose State but last season they proved the future is bright. Brennan is building something special at San Jose State and don’t expect that to change this season either. San Jose State opens the season August 28th at home when they take on Southern Utah.
Southern Utah: W
N Mex St: W
@Colo St: W
Utah St: W
Fresno St: W