CEDAR CITY, Utah — When Cal Poly went into the locker room at halftime of Saturday’s 20-7 loss at Southern Utah, it was the first time all season the Mustangs had been held scoreless in the first half.
In fact, it was the first time Cal Poly failed to score in the first half under second-year head coach Tim Walsh and was the first time it had happened to the program since a 17-7 loss to San Jose State under Rich Ellerson in 2006.
The Mustangs had come close a couple times this year, though.
In a 21-12 loss to Texas State on Sept. 18, Cal Poly came away with just a field goal before the third quarter. In a season-opening 23-17 win over Humboldt State, it was only seven points.
A 38-17 loss to Fresno State on Oct. 2 was the only time the Mustangs were shut out in the second half.
The common thread between the games above: They all came on odd numbered weeks. In games during the second, fourth and sixth weeks of the season, Cal Poly’s offense has exploded for an average of 41.6 points per game.
Walsh was aware of the trend and had hoped to escape the trend of one week on, one week off, but the streak lived on after two missed first-half field goals by Jake West and a drop in the end zone by receiver Eric Gardley.
“We went like 60 yards the first time we had the ball, and we had it for eight minutes and came away with nothing,” Walsh said. “I don’t call that a flat start. I call that a pretty good start if you make the field goal, but we didn’t.
“You miss another field goal and you drop a touchdown pass. That’s all first-half points. That’s 13 first-half points.”
TOGETHER AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
Another interesting aspect to Cal Poly’s offensive stagnancy against Southern Utah was the fact that it came when the Mustangs had their projected preseason starting offensive line playing together for the first time all season.
Center Hal Kelley and right tackle Art Munoz made their returns to the field to join right guard Will Mitchell, left guard Maurice McClure and right tackle Scott Winnewisser.
The unit was without Munoz to start the season as he continued to recover from a broken leg suffered in the second game of the 2009 season.
Munoz was back for the third week of the season, but by then, the team was without Kelley, who sprained his knee in the season opener. After missing more of training camp with a shoulder injury, McClure also hurt his foot against Texas State.
Munoz then dislocated his elbow the following week at McNeese State.
With further injuries, Cal Poly was down to a fourth-stringer at tackle at one point, and true freshman Lefi Letugligasenoa made a couple of starts at guard.
Sophomore Geoff Hyde filled in capably for Kelley, who said he felt strong enough to go full speed in practice this week for the first time since his injury occurred.
Prior to the game, Kelley said he was impressed by Hyde’s play while he was out and was a little surprised he got his job back.
“Our pass protection at the beginning of the game was a little iffy, and it improved in the second half,” Walsh said. “Their opportunity for them to play probably helped that part of it. As they played in a game, they got more comfortable with doing it.
“We don’t have the bodies to have live practices. So, first bullets were first bullets.”