Tony Smith had a great start against Sacramento State in Cal Poly’s season opener. He even led the Football Championship Subdivision with a 211 passer rating.
But the junior quarterback followed that effort with a 1-for-11 showing against Ohio last week and took a while to get anything going against San Jose State on Saturday.
Smith started the 0 for 5 against the Spartans and didn’t complete a pass until late in the second quarter. With 5:35 to go in the first half, Smith found Dominique Johnson on a deep hitch that Johnson stretched into a 22-yard gain.
The play gave Cal Poly a first down on the San Jose State 31-yard line, and the Mustangs were able to drive into the red zone for a 30-yard field goal that gave Cal Poly a 9-0 lead.
Smith finished the half 3 for 10 for 30 yards, and one of his completions was a 12-yarder to Johnson at the goal line that was ruled incomplete when Johnson fumbled the ball into the end zone.
Local player gets his first start
Jake Romanelli, a former Templeton High star, started at fullback with Jordan Yocum nursing an ailing hip.
Yocum was still feeling the bumps and bruises he sustained after rushing 27 times in last week’s 28-10 loss at Ohio. Those 27 carries, which produced a career-high 130 yards, were more than 21⁄2 times his previous single-game high.
In Romanelli’s first career start, the redshirt sophomore ran the ball on the team’s first three plays from scrimmage and converted a third down.
In those three carries, Romanelli racked up 14 yards but didn’t run the ball again the rest of the first quarter.
Romanelli had 10 carries for 25 yards entering the game and had rushed 16 times for 51 yards in his career.
Hanging on to his starting job
Scottie Cordier was the opening-game starter at safety last season, but lost the job to Greg Francis by the second week, and Francis, then a redshirt freshman, hung on to the job the rest of the season.
Francis was expected to be the starter this season, but Cordier started against Sacramento State.
And he’s hanging onto the job.
Cordier intercepted a pass against the Hornets and added another against San Jose State, a first-quarter pick against Spartans quarterback Jordan La Secla.
Spartans know the way to San Luis Obispo
Or at least their progeny does.
A few of the current Mustangs who took the field against San Jose State have paternal ties to the Spartans.
Karl Winkelman, a redshirt freshman defensive end, is the great-grandson of Ben Winkelman, who served as head coach at San Jose State from 1940 to 1941.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Kenny Jackson’s dad, also named Kenny, was an all-Big West Conference running back for the Spartans in 1986 and 1987 and rushed for 1,935 career yards.
Harlan Prather, a backup quarterback and first-string punter, is the younger brother of Waylon Prather, who is the San Jose State career leader 9,747 punting yards.
Former Mustangs also know their way to San Jose.
Brent Brennan, the Spartans’ co-offensive coordinator, was a former assistant coach under Rich Ellerson at Cal Poly. And strength and conditioning coach Chris Holder also held the same position with the Mustangs. Assistant strength coach Ben Cobian is a former Cal Poly offensive lineman.