The Spartans will be entering 2009 with a big chip on their shoulder. Last season, they made some major improvements and were bowl eligible. Unfortunately, they were not invited to a bowl game and hope to make major impressions this year to reach their goal.
Coach Dick Tomey is returning seven starters on each side of the ball, so the Spartans should bring a lot of confidence into 2009. Kyle Reed returns for his senior season at quarterback where he will be under some pressure to perform better and more consistently in 2009. He only averaged 150 yards in the air last season and had a pass efficiency of 112.7. If Reed cannot sustain the starting job, look to Jordan La Secla of a possible replacement.
Brandon Rutley could be seeing a majority of the carries this year as he had a breakout rookie campaign. He finished with over 700 all-purpose yards and was the leading rusher for the Spartans last year. In addition to Rutley, Lamon Muldrow, a transfer from community college will also be battling for carries.
With their leading receiver from last year gone, the Spartans will look to an experienced receiving core to help out Reed. Kevin Jurovich looks to get back to his sophomore year form where he had over 1,000 yards receiving for nine touchdowns. Terrance Williams is the leading receiver who is returning, but the Spartans better find a few more targets for Reed in order to compliment the running game.
Duke Ihenacho leads the men in the middle on defense with five interceptions and 66 tackles last season. He will be in good company with Travis Jones, who led the team in tackles last season, and Justin Cole. Carl Ihenacho will be the stud up front and the secondary will be looking to some inexperienced, but talented corners to fill the void at the corners.
If the Spartans can continue their dominance on defense and get some solid productivity on offense, they could be a sleeper in the WAC. I see the Spartans having another 6-6 campaign, but being elected to a bowl.Prediction: 6-6