All eyes were on the quarterbacks Saturday, but it was another group that earned Cal Poly football head coach Tim Walsh’s praise after the Mustangs’ training camp scrimmage.
A beleaguered offensive line, limited by hurt and rehabbing starters, paved the way for the offense to score at least a handful of touchdowns and a field goal against what coaches consider a deep and experienced defense.
“I was happy with our young offensive line,” Walsh said, “because I wasn’t expecting to be able to move the ball like we moved the ball today. I think they played with a great pace. I don’t think we were assignment sound necessarily, and I don’t think we were fundamentally strong, but our attitude on the offensive line was really good, and it frustrated our defense because they played so hard, and they played so fast.”
As for the four-way quarterback battle, that figures to be settled today after coaches have reviewed film from the scrimmage and added that to their evaluation of the first two weeks of preseason training camp.
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Though a share of his snaps came against reserves, redshirt freshman Tanner Trosin led three touchdown drives.
Trosin had a 13-yard touchdown throw to redshirt freshman slotback Kevin Porche moments after connecting with junior slotback Kenny Mitchell on a 30-yard pass.
Finishing 4 of 7 for 68, Trosin also ran twice for 31 yards, and slotback Kristaan Ivory had a 44-yard halfback pass to Nathaniel Petrey for a score on another of Trosin’s possessions.
“It was a great day for all” the quarterbacks, Trosin said. “We did a great job of commanding the defense and getting things going; I feel all of us as a quarterback unit, we all did pretty well today. So, I feel like it was a pretty productive day for all of us.
“I messed up on a few things. I got a few things I need to work on. I did all right. I drove it down a few times, but I still have a lot of things to work on, that’s for sure.”
Junior Vince Moraga also led a couple of methodical drives, including one against several defensive regulars.
Serving as the primary backup to Andre Broadous last season, Moraga has the most experience running Cal Poly’s option offense, and though his possessions lacked the long-gaining plays of some others, his proficiency shined through.
And he was happy to see the offensive line perform with several projected starters resting up for the Aug. 31 season opener against visiting San Diego.
“People from the sideline may not have seen me have explosive plays,” Moraga said, “but as far as being in the system and knowing the reads, I felt like I did a really good job with that, and that ended up with some touchdowns.
“If our offensive linemen can block our D-line, that’s probably one of the best D-lines we’re going to face all season.”
Moraga was 4 of 6 for 30 yards and ran for 8 yards on six attempts. Sophomore Chris Brown, who also led a scoring drive, ran for 41 yards on five carries. Brown was 2-of-5 passing for 12 yards but had a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage intercepted by sophomore linebacker Tu’uta Inoke.
Sophomore Air Force transfer Dano Graves started the scrimmage at quarterback with the first-team offense but found it tough sustaining drives.
The offense punted on his first two possessions, and Graves ended with 6 yards on 12 carries and 23 yards on 5-of-6 passing.
“A lot of people, to the naked eye, are watching end-result plays,” Walsh said. “If you’re a fan, you’re out here watching the end result, and there was a lot of good end results. But the bottom line thing is, how did they play within what they were supposed to is the most important thing.”
Ivory ran for 34 yards on seven carries, and his backups got plenty of action, too.
Redshirt freshman slotback Kori Garcia had 78 yards on eight carries, including a 30-yard run, and true freshman Jake Brito scored on runs of 4 and 24 yards.
Junior fullback Brent Michaels had a 24-yard scoring run, and Kyle Lewis, another true freshman, had 64 yards on 10 carries.
Lewis had two long runs on a single drive, showing deceptive moves and good acceleration. The former CIF State Track and Field Championships qualifier in the 200 meters could have earned himself some playing time with the performance.
“He has the speed we’re looking for,” Walsh said. “He did some good things in the open field. From the other parts of being a running back, he’s got a ways to go. Could he get in the mix because of his speed? He probably could, not to start but maybe to contribute.”