Think of an offense that outrushed every team in its conference by more than 100 yards per game, sprinkle in some new passing formations and then tune its tempo up to one that mimics Oregon’s no-huddle scheme.
This is what Cal Poly head football coach Tim Walsh and company want their offense to look like with its revamped playbook, and in the Mustangs’ spring game Saturday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, they showed glimpses of what their new offense can do.
“I think it can be very effective,” quarterback Andre Broadous said. “You see Oregon, and what they do. Their offensive style keeps teams off-balance.
“If we can master it, I think we’ll be very dangerous.”
Cal Poly’s offense showcased multiple new shotgun formations, but the Cal Poly defense edged out the offense for a 33-32 win after walk-on kicker Kody Fudenna made all three extra points to break a 32-32 tie at the end of regulation.
“The whole day was, after the first couple series, about getting the young players the opportunity to play,” Walsh said. “I think there was some mistakes, but I think it was a good learning experience for us and we’ll also get a good evaluation of where they are as football players in our program.”
Those players were asked to run at a much faster pace than last year’s offense did. Showcasing their new offense for the first time to fans, the Mustangs didn’t huddle at all on offense. Instead, coaches called plays from the sidelines, allowing the offense to move snap after snap.
“We want to play at an extremely fast pace,” Walsh said. “We wanted to make sure we used the things we were practicing all spring long in the game situation. Getting those things in a game situation is the best learning tool we have.”
The method worked on their first drive. Broadous led the Mustangs 70 yards, and Mark Rodgers scored on a 1-yard sweep to the left corner of the end zone. It worked again a few drives later when the Mustangs scored their second touchdown of the day on a leaping catch from Lance Castaneda in the right corner of the end zone over Darryl Williams.
But with Broadous and the rest of the starters playing just a few series, it was a small glimpse of what the Mustangs’ full-fledged passing attack will look like next season.
“I think it suits us well,” Broadous said. “At any time, we can give anyone the ball. We have a lot of guys that can turn a 5-yard screen into 20 yards. Our running backs, too, have the ability to run for big gains. It’s going to keep teams off-balance.”
Broadous completed all four of his attempts, finishing with 36 yards. Sophomore quarterback Vince Moraga finished 10 of 16, throwing for 90 yards, and Doug Shumway was 3 of 7 with 18 yards and a score.
Receiver Ryan Taylor led the Mustangs with 62 yards, and Castaneda had 16 yards to go with his touchdown catch.
However, with all the talk about the passing game, the Mustangs didn’t completely abandon their rushing attack. Broadous finished with 30 yards on six carries and Deonte Williams, who transferred to Cal Poly from Northern Arizona this offseason, had 23 yards on the ground.
While the rushing attack wasn’t as effective as the passing game Saturday, Rodgers — who ran for a Great West-leading 882 yards last season — said even with the new playbook, the Mustangs will still have a run-first mentality in 2011.
“We’re still a triple-option team; that is our main thing,” Rodgers said. “We just are adding extra little things in to throw defenses off. We’re sticking to the triple option, just with a different style.”