SAN JOSE -- San Jose State delivered one of the finer defensive performances in school history last year in its 12-0 shutout of Navy.
The Spartans held the Midshipmen to 70 yards rushing -- the only game in coach Ken Niumatalolo's six years that Navy has rushed for fewer than 100 yards.
But here's an example of just how much turnover SJSU (5-5) has experienced on that side of the ball: Defensive tackle Travis Raciti is the only player who started on defense in that game who is projected to start Friday against the Midshipmen (6-4).
"It just shows you, year to year, there's always changes," Spartans coach Ron Caragher said. "We've got some different guys, and they're coming along. It's a work in progress trying to put it all together."
SJSU had 10 tackles for loss and five sacks against Navy last year, but none from players who figure to start Friday. Among the players who produced those statistics, only Anthony Larceval will play in this game. He's a backup defensive tackle after recovering from a serious illness that nearly ended his career, but he hopes to contribute again.
"Every week I want to make an impact, whether it is on the field or on the sidelines picking up my teammates," Larceval said.
What's remarkable is the turnover isn't all a matter of seniors departing.
Linebacker Vince Buhagiar and Josh Fasavalu were the leading tacklers in last year's game, but Buhagiar is out for the year with a shoulder injury and Fasavalu transferred to Long Beach City College.
Derek Muaava had a big game with six tackles, but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament a month later and still hasn't returned. Tony Popovich had his only sack of the season in that game and became a starter this year, but he is out with a shoulder injury.
Two of SJSU's first-team all-conference players also saw little to no action.
Keith Smith, the nation's leading tackler this year, didn't play because of an ankle injury, and Bené Benwikere was two games away from entering the starting lineup.
Beyond Raciti, the only player who figures to see significant time Friday who started last year's game is Damon Ogburn Jr. He had six tackles and an interception and could start depending on the defensive package.
Navy's triple option offense is complex to defend. It requires players to focus on their keys rather than follow the ball. That's why defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson had portions of practice this week in which the scout team offense ran plays without using a ball.
"You've got to do your job," Thompson said.
For the defensive linemen, the key is to be aware of the offensive line using cut blocks -- legal blocks below the waist that are a key to the triple option attack.
Raciti said it's important is to keep your hands out in front and the feet moving.
"Playing a team like this, they're cutting everyone and bodies are flying everywhere so you've got to keep your feet hot, make sure you don't get a leg stuck in the ground," Raciti said.