The Cal Poly football team will hit the turf this Saturday for the Spring Game — a chance to see how the Mustangs are shaping up for their second season in the Big Sky Conference.
After an impressive first year, ending with a 7-1 conference recored and a share in the Big Sky title, the Mustangs are looking to repeat their success this season, starting with a team scrimmage on Saturday.
“I think we have a good plan in place, Saturday will tell a lot,” quarterbacks coach Juston Wood said. “Not just with the quarterbacks, not just myself, but as a team, as an offense and as a group in terms of coaching staff.”
The quarterback position is still a big question mark for the Mustangs. Four contenders have been vying for the spot during spring practice, and all four will see playing time on Saturday.
Assistant coach Saga Tuitele, who is currently serving as the team’s offensive coordinator after Bryan Cook left his position as offensive coordinator in April for a job as quarterbacks coach at Georgia Tech, said he hoped all the quarterbacks would do well during the game.
“But they each have their strengths and they each have their weaknesses,” Tuitele said. “Hopefully on Saturday, one or two will set themselves apart.”
Dano Graves, a transfer from Air Force expected to vie for the starting spot, said the competition in practice has helped each of them grow.
“We’re all competing,” he said. “We’re making each other better, so that’s good.”
Besides the open quarterback position, Cook left a hole in the coaching staff after leaving the Mustangs. And while Tuitele is filling in as the team searches for a replacement, he said Cook’s absence gives him more responsibility, but not necessarily more pressure, to call plays.
“Having the same assistant coaches on the same staff is a good feeling and reassuring,” Tuitele said. “Collectively, we’ll do a good job just going forward with a game plan.”
But besides the open quarterback and offensive coordinator positions, the Mustangs are keeping their offensive game pretty similar to seasons past.
“It’s still going to be a hurry-up offense, it’s going to be a lot of plays getting run,” wide receiver Willie Tucker said. “But it’s going to be a little bit of a twist with some more passing coming in.”
As a receiver, Tucker said he was “more pumped than ever” that the Mustangs’ offensive game was focusing more on passing this season.
“In the past it was a little bit dull as a receiver,” he said. “But coming in this year it’s going to be fun.”
Running back Kristaan Ivory echoed Tucker’s hopes for this year’s offense.
“We’re always going to be up-tempo,” Ivory said. “But hopefully pass a little more, open it up.”
Although the Mustangs’ offense is missing running back Deonte Williams this season, who recently signed with the Oakland Raiders following the conclusion of the 2013 NFL draft and — last season — helped bring the Mustangs a Football Championship Subdivision postseason berth, Tuitele said he sees potential in current players to take his place.
“It’s a big hole to fill,” Tuitele said. “Deonte was one of the best running backs in the U.S., he was very productive with us. … We’re definitely going to miss him, but we have a couple kids that can take the weight off.”
Running backs coach Aristotle Thompson said he hopes to see the offense put points on the board on Saturday.
“But if we can play sound football and protect the football and not have the ball on the ground,” Thompson said, “that would be a productive Spring Game for us.”
The Spring Game will kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Brian De Los Santos contributed to this article.