Posted: Apr 11, 2013 12:06 AM by Andrew Masuda
Updated: Apr 11, 2013 8:46 AM
The first of fourteen spring practices is in the books for the Cal Poly football team. The Mustangs and head coach Tim Walsh return 18 starters and 58 letterwinners from last year's Big Sky co-championship team. They lost only six major contributors, but they were big ones in linebacker Kennith Jackson, slotback Deonte Williams, quarterback Andre Broadous, Lance Castaneda, offensive linemen Geoff Hyde and Karl Winkelman and cornerback Nico Molino.
Saga Tuitelle officially took over play calling duties on Wednesday after the departure of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Cook last week. He has a tight end at his disposal this year... after seeing what Sam Houston State was able to do with a tight end in last year's playoff game, Cal Poly decided to institute one in its system. "I think it's a work in progress, there's no doubt. It's just so new and he has a lot to learn. Just small things like he's on the right or the left. He's on the ball or off the ball as far as his alignments," said coach Walsh, who is 26-19 in four years at Cal Poly. "It adds a lot of formations to us and a lot of diversity so we'll see as it goes."
Defensively, Nick Dzubnar, who had a team-high 107 tackles last fall, will move from outside to inside linebacker to replace Jackson, who was a Big Sky First Team selection. "I think we can be easily one of the top defenses in the nation and I hope that's what everyone's goal is, I think that's definitely what we can be," said Dzubnar.
With cornerback Bijon Samoodi academically ineligible and a question mark for the fall, recent transfer Dominique Love adds needed depth to the position. The 6-1 Love transferred in from New Mexico State.
"I can bring excitement, I can bring aggressiveness. I just love to be back on the field, it's good to be back on the field it feels good out here. I'm taller than most corners. I have longer arms and so I love pressing. I can get up on receivers, play taller receivers. I'm athletic, I can jump," said Love, who's older brother Maliik plays for the Cal Poly basketball team.
Another tall corner back is Nipomo's Kevin Britt, who was back on the field Tuesday after missing last season because of back surgery. Paso Robles alum Elias Stokes will have hip surgery and miss spring practice.
The most contested position battle is at quarterback. With the addition of Air Force transfer Dano Graves, it is a four man competition.
"We're all brothers out here so, I mean, we know at the end that somebody is going to be picked, only one quarterback can be on the field at a time. All we can do so far during practice is come out and make each other better," said Vince Moraga, who played in five games last fall. He rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries and completed 1 of 2 passes for 16 yards.
"It's going to be good competition but it doesn't matter, where ever you go, what level you're playing at there's going to be competition. So we're going to make each other better on the field," said the 5-9 Graves. As a senior at Folsom High he was named the National Player of the Year after he rushed for 994 yards and 23 touchdowns and threw for 3,702 yards and 62 TD passes in 2010. He worked in a triple option offense at the Air Force Academy last season and enters Cal Poly as a redshirt sophomore.
Chris Brown, a sophomore, who played in one game in 2012, and redshirt freshman Tanner Trosin, who graduated from Folsom High in 2011 are in the mix.
Starting offensive linemen Lefi Letuligasenoa, Mike Freeman, Kyle Zottneck and Giovanni Sani will miss spring drills with injuries. That'll give other returnees like Atascadero High grad Weston Walker, Connor Odisio and Stephen Sippel added reps in camp.
The Spring Game is set for Saturday, May 4 in Spanos Stadium at 1pm.
Cal Poly is coming off a 9-3 season where the Mustangs went 7-1 in conference for a share of the title in their first season in the Big Sky. The Mustangs lost in the FCS playoffs to eventual runner-up Sam Houston State in the second round.
The Mustangs open the 2013 season on August 31 at home against the University of San Diego. They then play back-to-back FBS level opponents at Fresno State on September 7 and at Colorado State on September 14.
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