There may not be a position group on the Cal Poly football team carrying a bigger proverbial chip on its shoulder than the Mustangs’ secondary.
During last week’s loss at Montana State, quarterback Dakota Prukop picked apart Cal Poly’s defense on the way to completing 73 percent of his passes for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns.
It was the latest in a perhaps unsettling trend for the Mustangs. Through four games, Cal Poly ranks last in the Big Sky Conference in passing defense by allowing 317 yards per game and second-to-last in total defense at 507.2 yards per contest.
“You can’t give teams (points) by missed assignments,” head coach Tim Walsh said. “And those were, I hate to say, elementary missed assignments. They’re things that I expect fifth-year seniors not to make the mistakes that we made.”
Idaho State wide receiver Madison Mangum proved to be one of the top players in the Big Sky last fall, and he presents a significant challenge to Cal Poly’s secondary.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound junior caught 83 passes for 1,234 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. When the Bengals defeated the Mustangs a year ago, Mangum had 10 receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown.
New Idaho State quarterback Michael Sanders, a Scottsdale Junior College transfer, is trying to replace the graduated Justin Arias, who led the conference in nearly every passing category last season.
Sanders’ six interceptions lead the Big Sky, and Cal Poly could benefit from a few extra possessions stemming from turnovers.