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Tough Team To Tame
When Cal Poly finished 4-7 in 2009 with a 1-3 mark in Great West Conference play, many said it would be a while until the Mustangs regained their swagger.
Those same critics must be searching for the perfect seasoning for that crow a year later.
Cal Poly, loaded with underclassmen in 2010, has started the season 2-0. The Mustangs shocked the FCS last weekend with its 35-33 upset of No. 1 Montana.
With the win, Cal Poly vaulted into the The Sports Network’s Top 25 Poll — the Mustangs are ranked 17th.
“The game itself was huge for us as a program,” Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said. “Our defense stood up late and we played much better against the throw offense Montana put up against us.”
It’s a good thing the Grizzlies brought out their passing offense because the Mustangs sure wouldn’t have.
Cal Poly, who runs most of its offensive formations out of the shotgun, isn’t a passing team. The Mustangs live and die on the success of their spread option.
After a year in which Cal Poly familiarized itself with Walsh’s offense, its offense is beginning to fall into place. Under Walsh’s direction in 2010, the Mustangs have rushed for an average of 230 yards per game.
Against Montana, Cal Poly toted the ball 55 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns, led by Tony Smith and David Mahr (who netted 40 yards each).
“Montana did some things that we hadn’t seen before and our guys had to make some adjustments on the fly,” Walsh said. “With that said, a 2.9 average isn’t what we expect at Cal Poly so we definitely want to improve on it.”
While none of the Mustangs’ slot backs could break it open, they received a strong performance from sophomore quarterback Doug Shumway. In his first extended action of 2010, Shumway completed three passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 22 yards on nine carries.
“Doug has had the opportunity to be starting quarterback for our football team for 10 days and he did a great job of commanding the offense,” Walsh said. “He played well but also made four crucial mistakes and with the amount of plays he had, he nearly gave it away but showed tremendous composure.”
Shumway wasn’t the only Cal Poly athlete with a big game as three defensive players locked down the Grizzlies.
Middle linebacker Marty Mohamed (15) and outside linebacker Johnny Millard (11) each recorded double-digit tackles while cornerback Asa Jackson tallied seven solo stops. Both Mohamed and Jackson notched an interception as well but only Mohamed could bring home Great West Conference Defensive Player of the Week and College Sporting News All-Star honors.
“Marty is finally understanding what it takes to be a leader for this team,” Walsh said. “Last year we challenged him to step up and what you’re seeing this year is him coming into his own not only as a rock on the defense, but a leader too.”
The Mustangs will need Jackson, Millard and Mohamed as well as the rest of their defense to be at the tops of their games with their arduous upcoming schedule.
Cal Poly, after two consecutive home games, hits the road for five consecutive matches beginning Saturday night at Texas State. The Mustangs will then travel to McNeese State, Fresno State, Old Dominion and then at Southern Utah.
“We have really great young people that understand the Cal Poly philosophy,” Walsh said. “The combination of all that makes it tough because we have to be the program to take what we can get, which is a lot of away games or pay a lot to bring someone here.”
Walsh must not mind traveling too much since he gets to show off a team everyone thought would be in a dry spell, but they are quickly learning that to not be the case.
By Tyler Mayforth Daily Record