SANTA CLARA -- Expectations are elevated within the San Jose State football program, even if the opposite is occurring on the outside.

Following last year's 6-6 season -- something senior center David Peterson called "an extreme disappointment" -- the Spartans say they are ready to take the next step.

"For us, 6-6, that's not good enough. That's not going to get the job done," senior wide receiver Jabari Carr said at Wednesday's Bay Area College Football Kickoff at Levi's Stadium. "Getting the job done to us is a 9- to 10-win season."

The 6-6 record also wasn't good enough to impress bowl executives, as San Jose State was left at home for the postseason. The Spartans were one of seven eligible teams from the Mountain West for just six guaranteed spots.

The season-ending upset of then-undefeated Fresno State produced some offseason momentum that translated into the recruiting season. But it also provided fuel to the returning players.

"It left us hungry," Peterson said. "It left us wanting more. We want to prove ourselves this year.

"That's fueling us. We felt we should've been in (a bowl). But we can't leave it up to them. We've got to win."

  • The starting quarterback battle between junior Joe Gray and senior Blake Jurich will be about who will be the best "mover of chains." The Spartans were pass-heavy the past two years -- for good reason with David Fales in charge -- but coach Ron Caragher hopes they can be a more prolific running team this year.


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    "Good defense and a run game can be friendly to a first-year starter at quarterback," Caragher said.

    The second-year coach fully understands why his team has lower expectations now that Fales is gone, but that hasn't dampened his excitement.

    "Will the expectations be as high as last year? Probably not, when you see all the preseason picks and what not," Caragher said. "And that's understandable. People often project how the quarterback position is with how the season is and the experience of that guy. That's fine too. I'm just excited to work with those guys and bring them along and see what they can do."

  • Linebacker Jared Leaf, injured in an apartment fire near campus in April, continues to improve and Caragher remains confident he'll play football again at some point. He visited with the team last week during an informal workout and the Spartans expect to feel his presence throughout the year.

    "Whether he's on the field or not, Jared Leaf will be a presence in the program," Caragher said. "He'll be around because that's who we are. It's about family. It's about team."

  • The Spartans will open their 2015 season against New Hampshire, a Football Championship Subdivision team, with a Thursday night game on Sept. 3. This will mark the third straight season SJSU will open the season with a home Thursday night game against an FCS foe.

    New Hampshire leads the nation with 10 straight trips to the FCS playoffs. The Wildcats reached the FCS semifinals last year and finished as the No. 5 ranked FCS team in the country.

    For more on San Jose State sports, visit the SpartanCentral blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sjsu. Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.