SAN JOSE -- David Fales' fabulous tenure at San Jose State is over. He's off preparing for May's NFL draft, where he'll likely be a mid-round pick.

Meanwhile, the Spartans are past the midway point of spring practice as they look to identify his replacement. Coach Ron Caragher has cautioned against judging the next SJSU quarterback against Fales' greatness.

"We addressed that early on -- to not compare," Caragher said. "And I certainly hope our fans don't compare. David was special, and he had two really great years for San Jose State, but there's another quarterback waiting in the wings and ready to emerge and bring something new and different to the table."

The competition primarily is centered around program veterans Blake Jurich and Joe Gray.

Jurich, a senior from Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley High, is known more for his running ability and brings that dynamic both on designed zone read runs and when plays break down. But Caragher likes his quick release in the passing game.

"He's not a big windup guy," Caragher said. "When his brain says, 'throw it,' it's out nice and quick."

Gray, a junior from Dorsey High-Los Angeles, has a cannon for an arm, perhaps stronger than that of Fales. Caragher has also lauded his decision-making and leadership skills.

"He's got good energy on the field," Caragher said. "Those intangibles are there."


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Offensive coordinator Jimmie Dougherty said the two quarterbacks are ahead of where he thought they would be.

"Both guys are extremely confident in how they're playing," Dougherty said. "It's really a consistency thing right now. They'll have 10 plays in a row where they're doing things exactly the way we want them, and then they'll have a couple plays where they'll miss a throw."

Jurich and Gray have both said they aren't out to replace the quarterback who, in just two seasons, rewrote the school's record book and left as its all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. They're focused only on playing the way they know how and enjoying the competition.

"We can only control what we do," Jurich said. "Competition brings out the best in us. That's all you can ask for."

"I want to be what's right for the team," Gray said. "I'm not big on just what I want, so what the team needs is what I want to be."

Their teammates are closely watching the signal callers compete and like what they've seen.

"They're all throwing well," sophomore tight end Billy Freeman said. "I'm interested to see what happens because it's going to be a fight."

The common thread from key offensive players is that it's tough to see much separation.

"I'm comfortable with either one," senior receiver Jabari Carr said. "I feel like, starter or not, both are going to have packages, both are going to get playing time."

That's one area Gray could have an advantage. Jurich has experience as a package player, particularly in 2012 when he was used heavily on option runs. He could rather seamlessly handle that kind of role.

Throughout scrimmage sessions during spring camp, play-calling with Gray has featured more passing while the Spartans have run more with Jurich on the field.

"I don't foresee anything happening where it's all one or the other," Dougherty said. "If Joe happens to be the guy, Blake definitely warrants putting him on the field and having a package. Or if Blake wins the job, Joe does some things that maybe Blake doesn't do."

While Caragher hasn't ruled out naming a starter when spring practice ends later this month, it appears more likely the competition will continue into the summer and fall.

"My goal would be to feel like we have two starters," Caragher said.

  • SJSU's season opener against North Dakota has been moved up to Thursday, Aug. 28 after originally being scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 30. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. It's not likely to be televised, but the move is designed to play the game before students disperse from campus for Labor Day weekend.

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