Cal Poly Football officially kicked off their offseason Fall practices on Nov. 3, their first action in pads as they begin their preparations for the upcoming 2021 Spring season.
Due to the effects of COVID-19, the team was unable to hold their annual Spring practices back in March, which is used to prepare the team for contact and implementing both the offensive and defensive schemes.
With so many unknowns coming during the offseason, it was unclear whether the team would be able to hold practices during the fall. First-year head coach Beau Baldwin reflected on the obstacles he and his team faced to be able to get to this point.
“For us, it was a matter of following the guidelines and what we needed to do, staying ready as best we could,” Baldwin said. “Through Zoom and through workouts on their own so that when this week came, we’d be as ready as we can given the tough circumstances.”
When asked about what stood out most after the team had their first official practice of the fall, Baldwin said the depth of the team was a strength they could rely on moving forward, more specifically the safety and offensive line positions.
“The safeties group top to bottom, just how many guys there are within that group has been really impressive to me,” Baldwin said. “Offensively, I’ve never had twenty [offensive] lineman. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that, definitely not while I was at the FCS level.”
During Fall practices, the team will work to become accustomed to the switch of offensive schemes. The team is transitioning from their traditional triple wing offense, which they had become well known for throughout the Big Sky, to a more passing attack spread scheme.
Senior offensive lineman Wade Willet said the switch on offense was well received by the team when they learned about the change.
“They were pretty excited; the guys were excited to be able to get more opportunities to shine and make plays,” Willet said.
Willet said the change was challenging for him and the rest of the offensive line, but felt that they saw the change as a fun challenge that they looked forward to.
The defensive side is also changing up their scheme as they transition from their traditional 3-4 defense to a 4-3 formation that will see more members of the defensive line on the field during play. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Myles Cecil explained what the growing pains for the defense have been through the switch.
“Pain in my book is growth, so we’ve been growing, and I’m loving every minute of it,” Cecil said. “We have a much more penetration-focused scheme, which is fantastic and allows the guys to play fast, which is a perk for the defense.”
As one of the leaders on the defensive line, Cecil detailed his approach to helping the rest of the group by having open communication throughout the position room, stating the importance of being available to his teammates, specifically the incoming freshman.
“I think it’s essential to not just talk about football, and take the time to talk about the other things they experience within a day because the college experience can be different,” Cecil said. “I loved the inclusive environment that the [defensive] line has created, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Cal Poly opens the official Spring season on Feb. 27 against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at home at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.