Prior to Saturday, Gavin Cooper was one-for-one on friendly wagers this year.
The Cal Poly junior defensive end took $100 from teammates Scott Winnewisser and Eric Alsaker after winning a hair-growing marathon earlier this spring.
At Saturday’s annual spring game, Cooper sported a freshly shorn buzz cut, but his betting record dropped to 1-1.
Avenging a one-point loss suffered in Tim Walsh’s first spring leading the Mustangs last year, offense beat defense 59-42 as Cal Poly showed off some new schematic wrinkles and sophomore quarterback Andre Broadous made a push for some playing time.
The deal was for lunch. The winners get steak. The losers get hot dogs, no buns.
“I feel like they changed the scoring or something because they were getting too many points for those first downs,” Cooper said. “I don’t think it as the same regulation point-scoring system as last year.
“They probably wanted them to win,” he added, tongue in cheek. “It was probably sort of a morale thing so we don’t beat them two years in a row.”
In 2009, the Mustangs defense earned the 29-28 win and got lunched served by the offense after forcing an incomplete pass on the final play of the scrimmage. The returners from that team certainly hadn’t forgotten.
“We definitely weren’t happy last year,” Broadous said. “So, this year, the whole camp, we were talking about how we’re not losing this year.”
Locked in a battle with returning starter Tony Smith, Broadous quarterbacked the first drive. He ran for a team-high 74 yards on 14 attempts and was a perfect 4 for 4 passing for 91 yards and a touchdown throughout the day.
Some of Broadous’s best plays came in a shotgun formation that hasn’t been used since Cal Poly adopted the triple option four years ago.
During the past three seasons, Mustangs quarterbacks have worked exclusively under center.
With leading receiver Dominique Johnson still sitting out while he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, there was still a lot more running than passing. The offense racked up 425 yards on the ground compared to 167 through the air.
But the different looks made a difference in the outcome of the scrimmage, Walsh said.
“The combination of the things we were doing really slowed our defense down,” Walsh said. “They played a little bit less aggressively than they did a year ago. If we can continue to grow from that and continue to improve with what we’re doing offensively, I think we can be explosive.”
While hitting Eric Gardley on a 60-yard touchdown pass and rushing for a 1-yard score, Broadous looked comfortable in an offense that more closely resembled the one he played in during a state offensive player of the year campaign as a senior at Grant High in Oregon in 2007.
“His thing is, he’s great in space,” Walsh said. “He can create space, and that’s the plus of who Andre Broadous is. His feet are lightning quick. He may not be a 4.4 (seconds) in a 40, but his ability to change directions and move is impressive.”
That does not mean Broadous has won the spot. He and third-stringer Doug Shumway received more reps than Smith, Walsh said, because coaches are more familiar with what Smith can do in live game situations.
Smith started every game of a 4-7 campaign in 2009.
On Saturday, he was 2 for 6 passing for 12 yards and an interception. He ran 5 times for 15 yards and had a 3-yard touchdown run on his first drive of the scrimmage.
“Tony had a good spring,” Walsh said, “so I think the battle will rein on.”
Saturday’s highlight’s also included a 24-yard touchdown run by fullback Jake Romanelli, a 33-yard end around by Kellen Moriarty, and two field goals into the wind from 44 and 45 yards by kicker Jake West, who also missed two extra points.
But the scrimmage wasn’t solely offensive.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Johnny Millard had a game-high eight tackles and returned an interception 30 yards. Darryl Williams had an interception to kill a drive in the red zone. Karl Winkelman, Joe Brum and Sullivan Grosz each had a sack, and Nick Leyden scored a defensive touchdown on a 10-yard fumble recovery.
The only serious injury was to offensive lineman Maurice McClure, who left early in the first half and was carted away from the field with ice wrapped around his left ankle.
He has approximately 130 days to heal before the start of fall camp.