The 2023 campaign for San Jose State football is upon us and prior to playing a game the season has already started out with a groundbreaking accomplishment and achievement for the program. After years of construction on the opponents sideline at CEFCU Stadium, the highly anticipated Spartan Athletic Center is officially open. The building will accommodate Spartan football as well as the mens and womens soccer team to resources such as offices, locker rooms, and more. The building will also provide luxurious seating on game days, so fans can root on their Spartans whether it’s on the gridiron or the pitch. Spartan football head coach, Brent Brennan spoke on the excitement of the new building during training camp, “I’m just hearing from former players, alums, donors, and people all over the country who are excited about San Jose State… We had a former player here today he was talking about how that facility was being talked about in 09.” The grand opening of the Spartan Athletic Center is more than just a piece of architecture, as it highlights how far San Jose State has come within their athletics altogether these past years.
Brent Brennan is entering his seventh year as Spartan head coach and after leading the team to another bowl bid, his team looks to stay competitive in the Mountain West. On offense the Spartans will be led by the conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback, Chevan Cordeiro. At the Mountain West Media Days, after receiving his preseason honors Cordeiro says, “It feels great, it gives me confidence going into the year, but it’s just preseason.” Cordeiro is determined and focused on the 2023 season as he is entering his sixth year at the collegiate level. After four years at the University of Hawaii and now entering his second season in San Jose, he is valued as one of the more poised leaders in the conference overall. Cordeiro’s dual threat capabilities were proven to be dangerous after passing for 3,250 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for nine touchdowns as well. However, the Spartan offense will be without a key component, Elijah Cooks. Cooks, the most dominant receiver at his position last year, put up over 1,000 yards receiving along with ten touchdowns. With Cooks taking his talents to the NFL, the underlying question for this offense becomes, who seeks the role of being the go-to target for Cordeiro? The most suitable name coming into the year is Justin Lockhart, who had a career year after tallying 578 receiving yards. Despite only having a single touchdown in 2022, he was a focal point and significant piece within the Spartan air attack in getting to the red zone. Lockhart will have plenty more targets with Cook’s departure, with him and Cordeiro playing for another season. Lockhart is in line to have a breakout year. Another name that will have an elevated role in 2023 is Nick Nash. The quarterback, who once started five games in 2021 and was often used for gadget plays throughout his first three seasons, has made the full transition to wide receiver. Nash showcased his skillset at wide receiver last season during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl where he had four receptions, 51 yards, and a touchdown. After playing a full game at the receiver position and having an entire offseason to adjust to the position within the offense, Nick Nash can be a versatile threat that could raise some eyebrows. Overall, the Spartan offense should be a thrill to watch. Chevan Cordeiro will still have tons of weapons to work with on offense, not to mention a deep and experienced tight end group as well. The ground attack and offensive line did go through its rough stretches in 2022, but luckily for Brent Brennan he’s returning all five starters on the offensive line and his veteran running back Kairee Robinson.
The Spartan defense going into 2023 will be getting a makeover as they lose some household names at all three levels. On the defensive line, San Jose State will be without both of their Conference Defensive Players of the Year with Cade Hall and Viliami Fehoko. Hall, who won the award in 2020, recorded 25.5 sacks with five forced fumbles in his five seasons with San Jose State. Fehoko, the 2022 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, wrapped up his final season with nine sacks and 19 tackles for loss as his efforts earned him to be selected in the third round in this year’s NFL Draft. Hall and Fehoko were not only fan favorites by Spartan Nation during their tenures at San Jose State, but were foundational pieces in getting the program back to playing winning football. The linebacker unit lost their veteran leader in Kyle Harmon, who led the team in tackles for three of his four seasons at San Jose State. The Spartans will miss Harmon’s consistency in stopping the opposition in short yardage situations and his availability as he didn’t miss a single game during his Spartan career. In the secondary, the Spartans will also be without cornerback Nehemiah Shelton, who was a standout pass protector in 2022 with eight pass breaks and two interceptions. Shelton for the most part would guard the opposition’s best receiver, so players like Kenyon Reed, Michael Dansby, and Elisha Guidry may be responsible for replacing Shelton’s efforts. The defensive unit as a whole for San Jose State will be fascinating this year as there will be clearly some new names making plays. With the amount of experience leaving this team from last year, this defense could very well have some growing pains, but as the season goes on expect it to evolve and establish an identity.
San Jose State starts out their season on the road against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams and the USC Trojans on August 26th. The following weekend the Spartans will play their home opener against Oregon State on September 3rd at CEFCU Stadium.