Andre Broadous took care of business and got off the field. Chris Brown and Vince Moraga took it from there.
And the Cal Poly offense showed the kind of tempo it had been talking about since coaches installed a no-huddle offense in late 2010.
In what turned out to be the highest-scoring spring game in the four since the arrival of Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh in 2009, each quarterback engineered a touchdown drive to help beat the defense 51-24 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Saturday.
Broadous, a senior from Portland, Ore., ran six times for 9 yards and completed one of three passes for 21 yards while taking the offense 80 yards in 15 plays on the opening drive.
Returning after his first full season as the starter, the plan was to limit Broadous’ snaps in a game where 18 players were held out to prevent injury.
“Just because it’s a spring game, we didn’t want to put him in too many positions where it was a dropback pass-type of situation,” Walsh said, “but we probably would have liked to throw the ball a bit more with him. He’s gotten a tremendous amount of reps the past 14 days to where we thought if he could get a good drive, that’s what we wanted, him to walk off the field feeling in command of what he was doing. I thought he had great command.”
Going against the first-team defense, Broadous capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The offense ran through 105 plays in little more than an hour, amassing 24 first downs, 282 rushing yards and 86 passing yards running an up-tempo style.
“Last year was the first time doing it,” Broadous said. “So, now that we got the reps and a lot of guys that know exactly what’s going on, we don’t really have to think about it anymore. We just line up and go, and it showed today that tempo is going to hurt a lot of defenses.”
Moraga ran for a 1-yard score, Brown added a 2-yard scoring run set up by a 22-yard scramble and redshirt freshman kicker Stephen Pyle added a 27-yard field goal to move ahead of fellow walk-on Marco Tavecchio in an ongoing kicking battle.
Fullback Matt Rulon ran for a game-high 57 yards on six carries. Brown was right behind, racking up 55 yards on 11 carries and completing 3 of 6 passes for a game-high 25 yards.
Brown, a redshirt freshman, showed tremendous improvement, Walsh said, from what he displayed when he joined Cal Poly out of Compton’s Dominguez High in the fall.
With senior second-string quarterback Doug Shumway out for the spring with a broken bone in his non-throwing hand, Brown is battling Moraga — who had eight carries for 41 yards and completed 3 of 4 passes for 19 yards — for the right to become the heir apparent to Broadous.
Both appeared more confident than they had in the past.
“I’m getting a lot of reps and they are just helping me produce as a quarterback in this system,” said Brown, who ran a version of the Wing-T in high school. “The seniors are always looking out for me. They’re giving me tips of what’s there, what’s not there. Andre’s always got my back, telling me, ‘Look, gametime situations, this play might not be there.’ ”
The offense lined up in a variety of formations. It was predominantly shotgun-based during Broadous’ drive. The others lined up under center more often, but it was evident that the schemes continue to evolve from the flexbone triple option former coach Rich Ellerson installed in 2007.
There were I-formations, split backs and play-action passes. The fullback dive that helped earn Jake Romanelli team-MVP honors last season was a rarity.
After his early hook, Broadous had plenty of time to assess Brown and Moraga, a redshirt junior, from the sideline.
“I’m definitely just trying to show them the ways and how to command this offense,” Broadous said. “You have to be loud, you just have to command it and know your checks.
“They both looked good. Vince, he showed that he can be quick at times. Chris is faster than he is quick. Chris has a strong arm as well. They’re both different kind of quarterbacks.”