Andre Broadous woke up Sunday morning and couldn’t fit into his shoes.
He’d twisted his ankle running an option play early in Cal Poly’s football scrimmage the day before, and as one of two quarterbacks battling for the starting spot, he stayed in the game.
Broadous, a sophomore dueling with senior incumbent Tony Smith, thought he’d be fine after icing the ankle Saturday night, but he thought wrong.
“I woke up, and my ankle was just swollen all the way down to my toes,” Broadous said.
“I walked outside barefooted and with flip-flops, and everybody was looking at me like I had elephantitis.”
Smith woke up with a similar injury, a bruised knee that he also played through, but, like Broadous, it had him on crutches by Monday.
“Just the pain and everything kind of sets in after the game when the adrenaline runs down,” Smith said. “The next day you kind of realize how set back you are.”
A day after taking a few snaps to test his knee, Smith took part in a full practice Thursday. Broadous did the minimum to test his ankle and is expected back in full pads Monday.
The two are just the latest in a rash of minor injuries that have forced the Cal Poly offense to practice with backups taking first-team snaps in training camp, which ends today.
Four offensive linemen sat out the scrimmage because of injuries. So did both projected starters at receiver. Running back Mark Rodgers wasn’t yet eligible to play in full pads, and by the end of the day, running back Jarred Houston was lost to a knee injury.
The team will get Saturday and Sunday off before beginning preparations for the season opener against Humboldt State on Sept. 4.
Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh acknowledged that the time missed because of injuries has affected his offense’s rhythm, an analysis that was backed up by a scrimmage that went without an offensive touchdown.
“In reality, our offense is a timing offense in everything that we do,” Walsh said. “The passing offense is timing and the triple-option stuff is timing too. We have to make sure by the end of next week that we have the rhythm back that we want to have with the guys that are going to play on Saturday.
“And I feel very strongly that it will be the majority of the guys. I don’t think we’ll have them all, but we’ll have a majority.”
Most of the injured players are day-to-day, meaning their status is liable to change depending on how they feel. Those are typically the less serious injuries.
Only right tackle Art Munoz, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered early last season, is expected to miss more practice for weeks at a time.
But the injuries to Smith and Broadous were not expected either.
Smith knew he was hurt, but like he did after suffering an early thigh bruise in a game at Montana last season, he tried to tough it out through the end.
“You don’t want to ever come out, especially when you’re getting opportunities to play and you’re in a spot battle,” said Smith, who banged his knee on a short-yardage play on his first drive of the scrimmage. “You just want to stick it out as long as you can. Other guys are banged up. They’re out there giving it their all.
“If you can go, you should probably go. That’s my philosophy.”
The quarterbacks’ ineffectiveness during the scrimmage, coupled with the injuries to the pieces around them, have made Walsh’s evaluation of the position tougher.
With only a week remaining before the home opener against Humboldt, Walsh has yet to name a starter. It’s even led to a new player joining the mix.
Third-string sophomore Doug Shumway filled in when Smith and Broadous were out and would have been in line to start had this been a game week.
A capable runner who reads like a composite of Broadous, a scrambler, and the drop-back passing Smith, Shumway has benefited from this experience, Walsh said.
“Doug’s done a good job,” Walsh said. “I’m not saying he is all the way there, but Doug has made some huge strides to close his gap with those guys. So, we feel very comfortable with our top three quarterbacks that whoever plays can keep the offense going.”