Spring Football Practice Begins Wednesday at Cal Poly Sports Complex
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly will conduct spring football practice sessions from April 10 through May 4. Open to the public, practices will be held Mondays (6:30 to 9 a.m.), Wednesdays (6:30 to 9 a.m.), Fridays (3-5 p.m.) and Saturdays on the Cal Poly Sports Complex's upper artificial turf field. Saturday practices on April 13 and 20 start at 11 a.m., with a scrimmage planned for April 27 at 3 p.m. in conjunction with a coaches clinic.
The 2013 Spring Game is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. in Alex G. Spanos Stadium and will include Kids Zone and Tailgating at 11 a.m., a local Food Bank donation area and the Home Team barbecue immediately following the game at the Richard J. O'Neill Green. Call (805) 441-5157 for more information on the Kids Zone and Tailgating. For the postgame barbecue, current 2012-13 Home Team members will receive two free tickets. Cost for others is $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.
Below is the 2013 season preview story from the 2013 Cal Poly Football Spring Prospectus.
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For the better part of three seasons, Andre Broadous was Cal Poly's starting quarterback. No ifs, no ands, no buts.
And no controversy.
Ah, but this is 2013. Broadous is gone, taking with him his 1,459 career rushing yards (30 touchdowns) and 3,120 career passing yards (31 touchdowns), leading the Mustangs to back-to-back conference titles and a second-round berth in the 2012 NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
What did Broadous leave behind? How about a five-man quarterback controversy!
"All five guys are different and if we could take what each of them does well and put them into one body, we would have exactly what we want," said fifth-year Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh. "Our job this spring will be to get one of the five to develop all of his potential to the point where we know we have our guy. They all have the ability to get to what we want to have in a running quarterback."
The quintet of signal-calling candidates, in no particular order, are:
• Junior Vince Moraga, who played in five games last fall, completing one of two passes for 16 yards and rushing 10 times for 76 yards.
• Chris Brown, a sophomore who played in just one game and threw one incomplete pass in 2012.
• Tanner Trosin, a redshirt last year who shattered school, section and state records by passing for 5,185 yards and 49 touchdowns as a senior at Folsom High School in 2011.
• Kenny Johnston, a senior who has been Cal Poly's scout team quarterback; he has not played in an official game yet but has completed eight passes in three spring games.
• Dano Graves, a transfer from Air Force who will be a sophomore this year after utilizing his redshirt and freshman seasons with the Falcons. In 2010 at Folsom High, Graves passed for 3,702 yards and 62 touchdowns while also rushing for 994 yards and 23 more scores en route to National High School Player of the Year honors from MaxPreps. His 85 total touchdowns is a state record.
"Vince is great with all the quarterback running stuff, but needs to work on getting the ball from Point A to Point B," said Walsh. "We already know what he can do in the Triple Option, but he needs to demonstrate his ability to operate things outside of the Triple Option.
"Brown has the athleticism we're looking for and physically is probably the best of all the quarterbacks," Walsh added. "He has to learn who we are in terms of our overall offensive scheme, implement his skills in the offense we run and gain more overall knowledge of how to run the team. We also will learn in spring ball how big of a jump he has made from fall to spring.
"Trosin probably has the best mentality of what we're looking for in the position. He is a gym rat type of quarterback, has a good mix of talent that we're looking for," Walsh said. "He throws the ball well enough, but has not dealt with the Triple Option before. How well he makes decisions in the Triple Option is his biggest question mark.
"Graves is the biggest unknown because he just arrived here, but he has experience running the Triple Option at Air Force (in prep school and on the Falcons' junior varsity team last fall). How well he grasps the concepts of our overall offense and his ability to get the ball from Point A to Point B will be our focus with him in spring ball. We want to see how much he progresses as far as his throwability while allowing for what we want him to do in our offense.
"We know who Johnston is. He does a lot of things well and we know what he can and can't do, but his athleticism needs to make a jump. He will get some reps with the Nos. 1 and 2 guys in spring ball."
In addition to the battle at quarterback, emphasis in spring ball also will center on developing depth at certain positions and sorting out the offensive line, which lost only two seniors but has a plethora of young talent ready to step in.
In all, Cal Poly returns 58 lettermen (29 on offense, 26 on defense and seven specialists), including 18 players (eight on offense and 10 on defense) who started at least four games last fall.
In addition to Broadous, the biggest holes to fill are at linebacker with the departure of Kennith Jackson, slotback (Deonte Williams), cornerback (Nico Molino) and the offensive line (Geoff Hyde and Karl Winkelman).
A position-by-position breakdown heading into spring ball:
Walsh and his coaching staff must find replacements for center Geoff Hyde and right tackle Karl Winkelman, part of an offensive front that allowed just 10 sacks a year ago, No. 8 in the FCS.
Several true freshmen and redshirt freshmen gained considerable playing time a year ago, including Stephen Sippel and Weston Walker, both of whom were pressed into duty as starters in two games, and Kyle Zottneck, who started 11 games at left guard in 2012.
Matthew Fisher, Nick Enriquez, Derek Sabo and Billy Shipman were redshirts last fall and are ready to step in.
"We feel really good about the young guys on the offensive line," said Walsh. "Probably five or six guys who were freshmen a year ago will be all-conference in a year or two. Our offensive line should be deeper and stronger this year than before."
In addition to Zottneck, returning to start this fall are Lefi Letuligasenoa at right guard and Giovanni Sani at left tackle. Both are seniors. Mike Freeman, also a senior, missed the final five games of the 2012 season due to a fractured leg and will miss spring ball, but is expected to challenge for a starting nod at guard in August.
"The center position is almost as important as the quarterback," Walsh added. "We will do some experimental things to fill the holes on the offensive line, possibly moving Shipman from defense to center. We need to decide what to do with Sippel, and Lefi could play center, but do we want to move him from tackle to center? Sippel could start at center, too."
Sippel was on the depth chart at tackle, guard and center last fall.
Sani, Freeman, Letuligasenoa and Zottneck will miss spring drills with injuries, giving numerous other returnees plenty of reps, including juniors Connor Odisio, Shawn Swanson and Sam Kenney, sophomore Tom Hickel and redshirt freshmen EJ Galvez and Miles Williams.
Last year's top three fullbacks on the depth chart all return, led by senior Akaninyene Umoh, who rushed for 439 yards on exactly 100 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns in 2012. Sophomore Brandon Howe added 174 yards and two scores while senior Matthew Rulon contributed 120 yards.
Another candidate is junior Brent Michaels, who rushed for 4,181 yards and 55 touchdowns in three varsity seasons at Lake Havasu High School.
Deonte Williams and his 1,506 yards, second all-time at Cal Poly for a single season, are gone, but junior Kristaan Ivory is ready to fill the void. Ivory scored eight touchdowns on the ground with his 728 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and also added two more scores on six catches for 49 yards.
Also on the spring depth chart at the "W" slot position are junior Rocky Meszaros (76 yards, one touchdown in 2012), redshirt freshman Kori Garcia and walk-on Connor Deutsch.
Senior Cole Stanford, who rushed for 241 yards and also caught 17 passes for 486 yards and four touchdowns, heads the list of candidates at the "S" slotback spot.
Stanford will be backed up by junior Kenny Mitchell, sophomore Andrew Walsh and redshirt freshmen Kevin Porche and Hunter Reaume.
Though Cal Poly is primarily a rushing team in the Triple Option package, the Mustangs do possess a talented array of receivers, led by Willie Tucker, the team's top receiver in 2012 with 28 catches for 517 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with his 14 catches two seasons ago.
Tucker is now a junior and will be backed up by junior Chris Nicholls, who caught a pass in 2012.
The other wide receiver position is headed by sophomore Jordan Hines, who caught a pair of passes a year ago. He will be backed up by sophomore Roland Jackson Jr. and redshirt freshman Carson McMurtrey, who caught passes from both Trosin and Graves at Folsom High School.
Other wide receiver candidates include senior Nathanael Petrey, juniors Brendan Quinn and Austin Albison, sophomore Sam Holguin and redshirt freshmen Keishawn Rowe and Jordan Satterwhite.
All four starters on the 2012 defensive line return, a group that helped the Mustangs finish third in the 13-team Big Sky Conference in total defense and 34th in the nation in rushing defense.
The quartet is led by senior Sullivan Grosz, who notched 57 tackles a year ago and led the Mustangs in tackles for lost yardage (12.5) and sacks (5.0). Grosz, a second-team All-Big Sky selection, now has 117 career tackles, 25.5 career tackles for lost yardage and 12.5 career sacks.
Grosz will start at defensive tackle while junior Chris Lawrence (33 tackles in 2012) returns at nose tackle.
The returning starting ends are junior Jake Irwin (40 tackles, 3.5 TFL, four quarterback hurries in first season at Cal Poly after transferring from Wisconsin) and senior Andrew Alcaraz (28 tackles, five pass breakups in 2012).
Both ends, however, are in tough fights for the starting nods. Irwin will be challenged by senior Chris Judge (17 tackles, three hurries in 2012) while Alcaraz will be pushed by junior Wesley Flowers (27 tackles, 2.5 TFL in 2012). Judge originally attended Air Force while Flowers was at UCLA.
Other candidates at end are senior Grant Goebel, junior Omar Omilabu, senior Kyle Maddux and redshirt freshmen Colin Dzubnar, Josh Letuligasenoa and Kelly Shepard.
Backing up Grosz and Lawrence at tackle are seniors Barrett Wangara and Nick Leyden, sophomore Joe Coleman and redshirt freshmen Jason Patterson, Dylan Gutierrez and Marcus Paige-Allen.
Cal Poly loses Kennith Jackson, a first-team All-Big Sky choice in 2012, and his 97 total tackles, but the other two starters from 2012 at linebacker return. Jackson was Cal Poly's No. 2 tackler in each of his four Mustang seasons, finishing with 302 career stops (No. 5 all-time at Cal Poly), including 21.5 for lost yardage, and six interceptions.
Junior Nick Dzubnar, Cal Poly's top tackler a year ago with 107, including 5.5 for lost yardage, and also recorded five pass breakups, returns, but will move from SAM to MIKE to replace Jackson.
Senior Johnny Millard (72 tackles, 6.0 for lost yardage) started 11 games at WILL but will move to SAM this fall while sophomore Cameron Ontko, who played all 12 games a year ago with one start, is the top candidate at WILL. Ontko, who also transferred to Cal Poly from Wisconsin a year ago, earned 42 tackles and a pair of quarterback hurries last fall.
Beginning spring ball as reserves include seniors Michael Santini and Xavier Ramos, junior Nick Moyer, sophomores Tu'uta Inoke and Andrew Hunter and redshirt freshmen Davis Cracknell, Joseph Gigantino, Joe Locher, Lukas Pinkston and Kyle Twisselman.
Only one of the 14 players on the depth chart at cornerback and safety for the 2012 FCS playoff game at Sam Houston State is gone -- cornerback Nico Molino and his 66 tackles, four interceptions and 12 pass breakups.
Sophomores Karlton Dennis and Chris Fletcher will challenge each other at that position, right cornerback, with another sophomore, Fernando Cabico, ready to step in as well.
Senior Vante Smith-Johnson, who started all 12 games at left cornerback, will add to his 46 tackles and four pass breakups of a year ago, challenged by sophomore Kevin Britt and freshmen Dominique Love and Frankie Griggs.
The safeties are an experienced group with Alex Hubbard (10 starts), Dave Douglas (six starts), Matthew Reza (six starts) and Jordan Williams two starts) all returning for the 2013 season.
Entering spring ball, Hubbard has a slight edge over Douglas at right safety while Williams and Reza will wage a strong battle for the starting nod at left safety. Other safety candidates include junior Trevor Weis, sophomores Dylan Mohamed, Kaulin Blair and Tim Puerling and freshman B.J. Nard.
Senior Bobby Zalud, a transfer from Arkansas State a year ago, returns with his 40.6 punting average (12 inside the 20), 63.5 kickoff average (41 touchbacks), 12-for-16 field goal success rate and perfect 55-for-55 PAT percentage.
Sophomore Stephen Pyle, recruited as a soccer player, returns for his second season as Zalud's backup.
Junior Chris Nicholls, among the nation's leaders in punt returns (8.5 average) and kickoff returns (24.0 average) heads the list of return men. He will be backed up by Hubbard as a punt returner ands Ivory, Stanford, Roland Jackson Jr. and Hubbard as a kickoff returner.
Hubbard is expected to take over the duties as holder on special teams while Zac Powell returns as the long snapper.