Cal Poly’s offense beat their defense 59-42 as the football team tried out new schemes in its annual spring game Saturday afternoon in Alex G. Spanos stadium. The underlying story line was Andre Broadous dueling last-year’s quarterback Tony Smith for a starting role.
Broadous led the offense as he completed all four of his passing attempts for 91 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Gardley. Broadous also led the Mustangs in rushing, carrying the ball 14 times for 74 yards. All six quarterbacks on the roster saw playing time. Smith struggled in the game completing only two of his six passes for 12 yards and one interception. He added a three-yard touchdown run for the green team early in the first half.
Head coach Tim Walsh said the team’s quarterback situation is still open and Broadous and Smith each will get equal repetitions heading into fall practices. He said he hopes to have a quarterback decision made by around the midpoint of practice in the fall but that both guys could see action during the season.
“Going into fall camp, it will probably be the same as we just did here where every other day they will switch off running with the (first team), and hopefully by day 10 of fall camp a solid decision will be made,” Walsh said. “It is possible that both of them could play, and I think they both have strengths that could help us win games.”
Walsh said he normally likes to settle on one quarterback, but he is going to make the decision that is best for the team.
“If it means to play Tony, we’ll play Tony,” Walsh said. “If it means to play Andre, we’ll play Andre, but either way, we are going to make sure that the best players are going to be on the field.”
The game utilized a unique scoring system designed to give the offense an advantage. The offense gained a point for every first down along with the usual scoring of three points for a field goal, six points for a touchdown and one for an extra point. The defense earned one point for holding the offense without scoring on a drive, three points for a four-and-out series, six points for an interception or fumble and 12 or 13 points for an interception or fumble return for a touchdown depending on the extra point. The offense was able to avenge a 29-28 loss to the defense in last year’s spring game.
Walsh said the game was a good way to showcase the team’s skills and that he enjoyed the support of the crowd.
“It’s always fun to come out here, and it’s tough because the defense is really at a disadvantage because of the scoring system, but I think the players like it,” Walsh said. “It’s a great atmosphere and obviously we love the support we have here and we love playing on this grass.”
Walsh said the spring is a great opportunity to work on fundamentals and try to implement new things such as the shotgun packages. He said it’s a chance to see how players develop and see what the younger players bring to the team.
“Most importantly it is to really see where your young players have developed,” Walsh said. “We were really pleased that we were able to get in as many live plays as we were, and all those young freshman got a tremendous amount of plays.”
During the game, the Mustangs displayed more shotgun packages than in previous years. Cal Poly runs a triple-option based offense, which is usually run from under center, but Walsh and Broadous said the new shotgun offense presents plenty of challenges for opposing defenses.
“I think our shotgun offense is going to open up a lot for our triple-option game, because defenses can’t focus on one thing now,” Broadous said.
Walsh said the offense will continue to grow and has the potential to create some explosive plays this season. He said the offense was able to do some good things today as they scored four touchdowns and generated 28 first downs on the afternoon.
“I think the combination of things we were doing really slowed down our defense and they played a little bit less aggressively,” Walsh said. “I think if we can continue to grow with that and continue to improve with what we are doing, then I think we can be explosive.”
Defensively, the Mustangs were led by freshman linebacker Johnny Millard who recorded eight tackles on the day and also added an interception. The defense forced four turnovers, including a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Nick Leyden who capped it off with a dive into the end zone following the 10-yard return. Defensive back Darryl Williams added an interception on the last play of the first half and defensive lineman Solomon Grosz recovered a fumble for the defense.
Defensive lineman Gavin Cooper said everyone on the defense can improve, but there is a lot of speed present on the defensive side of the ball. He said the spring is a chance for everyone to get better and evaluate guys.
“We get to see everyone as a unit, and you get to see a lot of the younger guys progressing and see them step up in spring ball,” Cooper said.
Walsh said he liked what the defense was able to do and found out that the defense will have plenty of depth up front. He said his biggest concern is in the secondary, but much of that had to do with injuries. Also, he said he wanted to figure out the linebacker position; the team boasts three players who could all see time next season.
Despite the abnormal structure of the game, many of the players enjoyed the opportunity to go out and play against one another.
“We’ve been competing with them all spring, so it just felt good to show off what we could do,” Broadous said.
Cooper said it was difficult for the defense since they were at a disadvantage, but it was still fun to be out there. He joked about how the defense does not really pull for the offense when they are scrimmaging against one another.
“I only like seeing (kicker) Jake West do good,” Cooper said. “Everyone else on the offense while we are playing, naw, I don’t want to see them do good at all.”
The Mustangs are only allotted 15 practices during the spring due to NCAA regulations. They will begin practice in the fall on August 8, and Walsh expects everyone who sat out during the spring with injuries to be ready to go when practice commences again. The Mustangs will open their season at home against Humboldt State at 6:05 p.m. in Alex G. Spanos stadium on September 4.