SAN FRANCISCO -- San Jose State has the same goal as every team in the country this time of year: win a conference championship. For the first time in two decades, it's talk the Spartans believe they can back up.
Third-year coach Mike MacIntyre said it's the first time he's felt comfortable talking about a Western Athletic Conference championship as a goal.
"We could've said it, but everybody would've looked at us like we're crazy," MacIntyre said of his first two years in San Jose. "Now they realize that our kids actually can strive to do that. It's not a pipe dream."
SJSU hasn't won a conference crown since sharing the Big West Conference title with Fresno State in 1991. In the 20 seasons since, the Spartans have just three winning seasons and one bowl appearance (2006).
The Spartans have enough question marks -- finding a quarterback being at the top of the list -- to temper expectations, but they also play in a conference that seemingly is wide open after undergoing wholesale changes.
"We're confident," senior tight end Ryan Otten said. "This is as confident as we've been since I've been here coming into a season. I think that's going to make a big difference."
On the field, he's ready for the pressure that goes
"It puts pressure on, but I really just try to think that it doesn't matter at all," Johnson said.
Junior David Fales, a junior college transfer from Monterey Peninsula, enters camp as the favorite and will battle with sophomore Blake Jurich and junior Dasmen Stewart. MacIntyre said they will split reps initially, and after two weeks, he'd like to start giving more reps to the anticipated starter.
MacIntyre estimated that about 85 percent of the team's starters are locked in, but added, "They could lose their job if they don't go compete. And they know that."