SAN JOSE -- San Jose State concluded what is likely the shortest offseason in the program's history when it opened spring practice on a wet Tuesday morning.
Less than eight weeks removed from a victory in the Military Bowl, the Spartans were on the practice field under new coach Ron Caragher.
"The bowl game felt really good, but we realize that now it's time to work for next season," senior linebacker Vince Buhagiar said. "We went 11-2 last year, but there's still room for improvement."
This is the earliest San Jose State has started spring practice in at least 30 years, so combined with the season extended by the bowl game, the offseason flew by.
"I love going early," Caragher said. "I think we can coach our guys earlier, rather than wait another month. We, as coaches, love the game of football, and it's great to get out on the field and do what we love doing."
Caragher has several reasons for the early spring start, which concludes with the spring game March 23 at Spartan Stadium. The coaching staff gets to implement its new system sooner. There's more recovery time if there are any injuries and a longer period of strength and conditioning before summer training camp.
The session is also uninterrupted as they finish up just before the school goes on spring break. It also allows the coaches to assess the team's needs and get back on the recruiting trail sooner.
From the player's perspective, the short offseason delivers a carry-over effect from the high of last year's success.
"We still have energy from that bowl game," senior linebacker Keith Smith said. "We're still hyped up for next season."
Unlike a year ago, there's no quarterback battle. Senior David Fales, fresh off setting every significant SJSU single-season passing record, is the unquestioned starter and face of the team.
Fales and company are learning a new offense implemented by Caragher and offensive coordinator Jimmie Dougherty. The pistol formation is gone in favor of more work under center, although elements of the spread offense and shotgun formations will be utilized.
"It's a lot of the same stuff," Fales said. "Just somebody's calling it something else. "
The biggest offensive battles will come in finding replacements for left tackle David Quessenberry and tight end Ryan Otten.
The Spartans return their other four starting linemen. One of those, such as right tackle Jon Meyer or right guard Nicholas Kaspar, could be candidates at left tackle. The tight end competition is wide open, with senior Travis Lorius the only player on the roster having made a catch at the Division I level.
A between-the-tackles running back to complement speedy Tyler Ervin is another focus, with senior Jason Simpson, junior transfer Alvin Jelks and redshirt freshman Jalynn McCain getting looks.
The defense is transitioning from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 and returns only one of its four linemen that made the All-Western Athletic Conference team last season. Travis Johnson and David Tuitupou graduated, and Anthony Larceval is expected to miss the season due to illness, leaving only Travis Raciti.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin