Before leaving for Colorado State prior to the start of 2012 spring practice, Greg Lupfer was the Cal Poly defensive coordinator for three seasons.
Before that, Lupfer assisted Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh for 12 years when Walsh was the head coach at Portland State.
Walsh was so high on Lupfer, he deemed his defensive coordinator the head-coach-in-waiting and was somewhat disappointed when the university passed over Lupfer in favor of former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville when Walsh left to become the offensive coordinator at Army in 2007.
Before starting his coaching career, Lupfer was an all-league linebacker that helped Walsh guide the Vikings to the Division II playoffs in 1993.
Lupfer knows Walsh as well as anyone. He has first-hand knowledge of how the Cal Poly offensive line likes to block, and he not only helped recruit but also coached many of the current Mustangs.
Siding with the enemy today as Cal Poly travels to Colorado State for its second game against an FBS opponent in as many weeks, could Lupfer’s knowledge be the X factor in a game the Mustangs are hoping is much more competitive than last week’s 41-25 loss at Fresno State?
“That makes it interesting,” Walsh said, “but we can’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. What we hope is that they’re listening to him and he’s confusing them.”
Cal Poly has altered much of its approach in the 18 months since Lupfer took his complex defensive scheme with him to Fort Collins.
For one, the Mustangs offense has installed multiple formation packages, and the defense is blitzing less.
Is Lupfer’s knowledge outdated? Could it steer the Rams wrong?
“Sometimes that happens,” Walsh said. “We’ve done it before. You think, ‘What do you think are they going to do here? You know these guys.’ But maybe you don’t know them as well as you think you do, and maybe we’ve changed enough in the last year and a half, and I think we have.”
Another coaching connection
Lupfer isn’t the only former Cal Poly coach on Colorado State’s staff.
Special teams coordinator and running backs coach Jeff Hammerschmidt spent one season in San Luis Obispo as the linebackers coach, helping then-head coach Rich Ellerson guide the Mustangs to the second round of the FCS playoffs.
In his second season with the Rams, Hammerschmidt has since had coaching stints at Stanford (2006), San Jose State (2007) and Arizona (2008-11).