J.J. Jenkins

The thing about quarterbacks, according to Cal Poly football head coach Tim Walsh, is that they all think they’re the best.

And during Saturday’s Spring Game, four of the Mustangs’ five options at the all-important position got to show why they deserve to lead the Cal Poly football team onto the field in the fall.

Senior Vince Moraga, redshirt freshman Tanner Trosin, sophomore Dano Graves and senior Kenny Johnston took snaps behind center and mixed the Mustangs’ traditional up tempo, triple-option attack with a few passes downfield. Chris Brown, another option at quarterback, sat out the game with a bruised wrist. The four quarterbacks combined to take 105 snaps, 83 rushing attempts and 23 passes, and totaled 467 yards of offense.

Though a different scoring system rewarded first downs and long plays and gave the offensive side a 51-27 victory, it was the defense that held its own against the rotation of quarterbacks. The Mustangs were able to get into the end zone just twice with a field goal, as the defensive side halted multiple drives in the red zone.

Trosin led the first Cal Poly scoring drive that ended with an 18-yard pass to Sam Holguin while, in the second half of play, Moraga threw a 16-yard lob to Carson McMurtrey in the end zone for Cal Poly’s final touchdown.

Despite the Mustangs’ battered offensive line, presumed backup running back Kori Garcia managed to dash for multiple carries of 10 yards or more, and Kristaan Ivory powered through defenders while swinging outside the tackles to give his quarterback another throwing option. Garcia finished the game as the leading rusher, racking up 56 yards on nine carries.

“(Garcia’s) not as fast as everybody wants, but he’s very smooth and he can make good cuts,” Walsh said. “And he’s probably a bit more physical than I thought.”

Walsh said that while no quarterback distanced himself from the others on Saturday, he anticipates that the field will narrow when summer training camp begins. He hopes to arrive at a three-man pecking order by mid-August, two weeks before Cal Poly’s first game against San Diego at home. However, the quarterbacks who miss the cut may find another spot on the field given their athletic ability.

“We have four really good athletes and three of them are going to be standing next to me (on the sideline),” Walsh said. “(Moving them to another position is) something that would be talked about … but none of them would be happy if we told them that they have to go play (running back). They’d do it, but they all believe they’re the best quarterback.”

Moraga had the best day passing, completing 6 of 8 attempts for 60 yards. His experience in Walsh’s system showed. Having sat behind former quarterback Andre Broadous, Moraga deftly distributed the ball in the Mustangs’ misdirection-fueled offense.

“I’m really comfortable with our offense as a whole,” Moraga said. “I know what we’re trying to do when we’re out there on the field. I’m really poised and there’s nothing that I’m going to see that I don’t know when it comes to defenses. I feel like that’s my upside”

Trosin, who Walsh said showed improvement on Saturday, hit 3 of 4 passes for 43 yards, but he also racked up 31 rushing yards on 10 carries. Graves, a transfer from Air Force, was 2 of 8 passing and had 45 yards on the ground. Trosin and Graves attended Folsom High School together, where Graves won a CIF Division II title with the Bulldogs, and Trosin racked up a state-record 6,346 total yards through the air and on the ground during his one season at quarterback.

“I’ve known (Graves) for a long time,” Trosin said. “It’s good to see him and I getting after it. It’s a competition, and we like competition, especially with each other. We’re comfortable with each other, so it’s not as big of a deal.”

The Mustangs return to training camp in early August before their game against San Diego at home to start the season. The team will then go on the road for two consecutive games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents Fresno State and Colorado State on Sept. 7 and 14, respectively.

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