The Cal Poly football team takes on Weber State this weekend in Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The Mustangs are looking to bounce back after suffering a 24-10 loss to Yale this past weekend.
In anticipation of this weekend’s Cal Poly football game against Weber State, Mustang News and Weber State University’s student newspaper, The Signpost, exchanged questions about the opposing schools’ football team and the upcoming game. Mustang News sports editor Stephan Teodosescu spoke with The Signpost ‘s sports editor Marcus Jensen.
Stephan Teodosescu (ST): Who are some key players to watch for in Saturday’s game?
MJ: There are a few players I would watch for in this game. The first would have to be the linebackers. WSU has lost its two best linebackers in the last two weeks, and the secondary has struggled tackling since. I would also watch for quarterback Austin Chipoletti. He is a true freshman and has only one full start under his belt. He was sharing playing time, which I think may have not let him get into a good rhythm. He played better in the game against Eastern Washington and I look for him to tighten up on his mistakes this week and play even better.
ST: Weber State has struggled to score in its last five games (just 41 points total). What’s to blame for the offense’s woes?
MJ: The offense scored 50 points in the opening game against Stephen F. Austin. After that, we hit a rough patch. The next two games were against vastly superior defenses. The games against McNeese State, we started out well, then piled on mistake after mistake. The last game might have been a turning point. The offense scored three touchdowns. The team is extremely young. They are prone to mistakes. That is most likely the biggest reason for the lack of scoring.
ST: How has Weber State’s tough schedule factored in to its rough early-season start?
MJ: WSU’s schedule is one of the toughest, if not the toughest in the Big Sky. They have played two FBS opponents, two top-15 FCS opponents and two other tough schools. It has factored in. But you can’t blame everything on the schedule. The team hasn’t played well, outside the first game, in any facet of the game.
ST: Head coach Jody Sears is in his second year and has gone 3-14 in his tenure. What’s the feeling around the program regarding how he’s done so far?
MJ: Coming into the season, the program was very high on coach Sears, and I don’t think that has changed. From my interactions with him, he is a fantastic coach. He is just in a very difficult spot. He came in and had to rebuild the program. Many players this year are freshman, we have over ten freshman that play every week. And our depth is not very good, which is tough with the injuries we’ve had. Everything I have heard points to Sears staying around for at least another year or two.
ST: What’s your prediction of how this one will turn out?
MJ: I predict WSU to lose the game, but it will be a tighter contest than the last week. I predict a 34-20 game in favor of Cal Poly. The defensive woes, especially against the run, will be the downfall this week.
MJ: Same question, who are the players to watch for this week?
ST: Players to watch for this week include quarterback Dano Graves and running back Kristaan Ivory. Graves is a sophomore transfer from Air Force and will be making his first career start on Saturday. He’ll be replacing fellow sophomore QB Chris Brown who took over the reigns when the first-stringer tore his ACL at Fresno State earlier in the season. Since that game, Brown has shown flashes of brilliance, but has been otherwise inconsistent with his arm. Compounded with a hip injury suffered last week, head coach Tim Walsh decided to replace Brown with Graves as the starter this week.
Willie Tucker, Cal Poly’s top receiver hurt his knee last week against Yale and will be out for an extended period of time. While the Mustangs don’t throw the ball much in the first place, having their top pass-catcher out of the lineup will mean more work for the running backs, namely Kristaan Ivory. He leads the Big Sky and is No. 14 in the FCS with 116.8 rushing yards per game this season. I except his workload to increase along with running backs Akaninyene Umoh, Kori Garcia and fullback Brandon Howe’s, as well.
MJ: Cal Poly has been ranked in the top 25 until this last week. Where do you see this team and how have the losses affected the team? Can they get back up there?
ST: Last week’s loss to Yale was a major disappointment. Cal Poly needs to put together two halves of football if it wants to compete for its second straight title in the Big Sky. Seeing how Graves does in his first career start will help gauge where the team is, but up until this point the Mustangs have been quite inconsistent. But, yes, I think they can get back up there as long as they limit the turnovers and play their game in both the first and second halves.
MJ: How do you see the game turning out?
ST: Considering Weber State’s recent woes and knowing that the sting of last week’s loss is still lingering, I think Cal Poly will win this one handily. I say the Mustangs win 42-17, but I predicted a win last week and look what happened. Yale came into Alex G. Spanos Stadium and walked away with a victory in a game that many people thought would be a gimme for the Mustangs.