Anonymous offensive line play is contagious at Cal Poly

jscroggin@thetribunenews.comOctober 12, 2012 

Deonte Williams. Andre Broadous. Kristaan Ivory. Brandon Howe. 

You could read their comments after each of the Cal Poly football team’s five games — all victories — and it would look like they were reusing the same sheet of Mad Libs. 

Before their mothers or anyone else, every Mustangs ballcarrier thanked the blocking of an anonymous offensive line, one reflecting the blue-collar mentality of its senior leader. 

“The best thing about these guys,” Cal Poly co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Saga Tuitele said about his linemen, “they really, truly are no-name guys. These guys, they just do their job. They go out there, and they love blocking for their teammates.”

The success of the line has shown in the statistics. The Cal Poly offense ranks third in the FCS, averaging 310.2 rushing yards per game.

The Mustangs are averaging 5.48 yards per carry and have scored 15 rushing touchdowns while ranking 17th in the FCS in scoring offense at 34.6 points per game.  

Cal Poly’s triple option all starts with center Geoff Hyde. The stoic fourth-year senior, who’s started games going all the way back to his true freshman season, is the quiet, lead-by-example type that has all of the younger players following his quiet footsteps. 

Junior guard Lefi Letuligasenoa is the biggest player on the team at 300 pounds and has also started since his true freshman season.

There is a trio of unsung rotating tackles. Senior Karl Winkelman is a converted defensive end, junior Mike Freeman has played almost every position on the line and junior Giovanni Sani has been forced in and out of the lineup because of injury throughout the years. 

Redshirt freshman Kyle Zottneck is the other starter at guard, and the team has also gotten contributions from other youngsters. 

Redshirt freshmen Stephen Sippel and Weston Walker, a former Atascadero High standout, have spelled starters when necessary. 

Walker also serves as the team’s short snapper on special teams. 

“The guys are getting more comfortable in the system,” Tuitele said, “with everything, no-huddle, some of the shotgun runs and the under-center runs. The guys understand what they’re supposed to do. And running backs, they understand what track they’re supposed to take to run the ball.” 

And it isn’t just the linemen. Many of the longest runs of the season have been direct results of lead blocks from one of the other runners or a seal block from a receiver on the outside.

Runners should thank the other skill players, too.

“I’ll take our slots and our receivers blocking over any skill-set athletes in the nation,” Tuitele said. “It’s easy to block for them when you see them doing the same thing.”

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