The Cal Poly football team’s struggles have been difficult to diagnose, but Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh said the remedy might be to get the offense to go back to basics.
With big-play receiver Willie Tucker out for the season, Cal Poly has lacked an explosive passing game, but according to Walsh, the Mustangs may be better off not throwing the ball.
“I think we maybe have to do less in the pass game,” Walsh said, “because the more you try to create, the more time you’re taking away from the things we need to be efficient at.”
If you look at total offense, there’s not much difference between this year’s 3-5 campaign and last season, when the Mustangs were 7-1 at this point.
Cal Poly is averaging 437.3 yards of total offense this season. Last year, the Mustangs averaged 449.3.
The biggest difference is not the volume, it’s the efficiency.
In 2012, the Mustangs led the country in third-down percentage, converting 55.8 percent of the time.
This year, that mark is down to 41.4 percent, which ranks fifth in the Big Sky Conference.
Cal Poly is also on pace for a significant year-over-year decrease in passing efficiency.
Having already used three different starting quarterbacks, the team rating for pass efficiency is 127.5. That’s down from 175.7 last season, which also led the FCS.
The Mustangs have actually passed for more yardage on average this season by more than 31 yards per game.
But last year, senior quarterback Andre Broadous proved to be an expert at avoiding mistakes.
Without that kind of leader, the offense could be scaled back.
“We can’t keep adding or subtracting things based on the result,” Walsh said. “We have to get back to the basics of who and what we are and make sure teams defend us that way. In some ways we’re probably getting a little too far away from playing under center. We have to make sure our identity stays the same.”