After a 24-10 loss to Yale, the Mustangs look to bounce back against Weber State on Saturday. “This is a critical game for us, obviously for a lot of reasons,” head coach Tim Walsh said.
The Cal Poly football team (2-3, 1-0 Big Sky Conference) hosts Weber State on Saturday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, with the opportunity to remain undefeated in the Big Sky.
The conference matchup also marks Cal Poly’s Hall of Fame Game, as five former Mustangs will be inducted at halftime.
Fans can follow the game live on Twitter @CPMustangSports or get the game recap on mustangnews.net.
Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m.
Ivy League upset
The taste of last weekend’s loss to Yale is still fresh.
The Bulldogs made their third-ever trip to California last weekend and upset Cal Poly, which fell below .500 for the second time this season.
The Mustangs turned the ball over four times and committed three penalties in a 24-10 defeat.
“The biggest thing is not to panic,” senior linebacker and team captain Johnny Millard said. “Take it a game at a time and a play at a time. Everything will fall into place.”
Brown out, Graves in
Sophomore Chris Brown, who took the reigns as quarterback on Sept. 7, will hand them over this weekend; Dano Graves will take the first snaps against Weber State.
Though Brown has been nursing a hip injury, head coach Tim Walsh said Graves would get the majority of the playing time regardless.
“We decided that we need to see what Dano Graves can do,” Walsh said. “Based on some inconsistencies and maybe some ball management things, we’ll give Dano an opportunity. This is a critical game for us, obviously for a lot of reasons.”
As Walsh put it, Brown did some “good things” and some “not-so-good things” during his tenure as quarterback. The sophomore threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball four times against Yale, only one of which was lost.
“Some of those things happened a little more regularly this past Saturday,” Walsh said, “which allowed us to start to consider making the change. This change is not an indication that that game made the final decision.”
Graves, the 2010 MaxPreps National Player of the Year, transferred to Cal Poly from Air Force this year after playing for its prep school and junior varsity teams. He was a state Division II champion at Folsom High School in 2010.
The former Sacramento Bee Player of the Year saw some action against San Diego earlier this season, but suffered a high ankle sprain in the process. Saturday marks his first start at the Division I collegiate level.
“Hopefully we can start throwing the ball around a little bit more and just protect the football and put more points on the board,” Graves said. “The quarterbacks have been real supportive of each other. No matter who’s at the helm, we still just want to win.”
Weber State ranks last in the Big Sky in almost every statistical category. But its 1-5 overall record is deceiving, as Weber State’s losses have come against some of the nation’s strongest teams, including No. 8 Eastern Washington.
“They’ve played the toughest schedule in the Big Sky,” Walsh said. “They’ve played five good teams. Athletically, I’m really impressed with what they are. And I’m sure after watching us play they feel pretty strongly that they can beat us.”
The Wildcats lost by 63 points to Utah on Sept. 7, and followed with a 64-point deficit against Utah State the following week.
Still, there’s no underestimating Weber State. Cal Poly beat the Wildcats 45-23 a year ago, but was shutout through the first quarter.
“They’re a good football team,” Millard said. “The five teams they lost to are good teams. Their record doesn’t speak to how good they are.”
A defense worth noting
Cal Poly’s defensive unit was overshadowed by the offensive struggles last weekend. Millard recorded a career-high 13 tackles, while Cameron Ontko and Nick Dzubnar tacked on 13 and 12, respectively.
“We’re making good progress,” Millard said. “Even last game, first half we shut them down. They got us on a trick play, it happens. The only time we got hurt was when we hurt ourselves. I think we’re going in a good direction.”
Wide receiver Willie Tucker will be sidelined against Weber State. The junior suffered a knee injury in the second quarter against Yale, and will see a doctor this week.
Senior defensive back Vante Smith-Johnson will likely sit out as he tends to a sore hamstring.