Thursday, August 30, 2007

A little taste of Texas thunderstorms

Cal Poly head football coach Rich Ellerson had to be loving that thunderstorm that came through early this morning.
Ellerson is known for his oddball game-week preparations, trying everything in the book to prepare his team for the “adversity” it will face on the road.
Prior to any game in a dome, Ellerson has his assistant coaches running around the practice field all week screaming and blowing whistles as loud as they can in hopes or re-creating the ear-piercing crowd noise the team will endure away from Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
But there’s usually no way to re-create the weather conditions the Mustangs will see at outdoor stadiums on the road, not here on the sunny Central Coast.
Well, early Thursday felt like a muggy Texas night all right with scattered thunderstorms rolling through town and surprising many SLO County residents with window-rattling thunder and a spectacular lightning display.
The Mustangs will probably be dealing with the same scene Friday night when they touch down in San Marcos, Texas, where the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 80s and scattered thunderstorms throughout the weekend.
Saturday’s kickoff at Texas State is scheduled for 6:05 local time (4:05 SLO time) at outdoor Bobcat Stadium where the hosts are used to thunderstorms like this.
I’m guessing it will feel a lot like the 2003 opener at muggy Texas-El Paso, or in this case, a late August night in San Luis Obispo.
So it’s not exactly sports content, but if you missed it, here’s part of that lightning display I caught this morning along with some pictures at the end of the 30-second clip:

Who's the next Buchanan candidate?

The Sports Network just announced its preseason watch list for the Buchanan Award, given to the best defensive player in FCS/I-AA football each year. As expected, there were no Mustangs on the list. There just isn't a big name that stands out on this defensive unit as of yet. That will likely change in coming weeks, which got me thinking: Who should Cal Poly's next Buck Buchanan candidate be?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Football season is almost here

The countdown has begun.
Only a few more days until the Cal Poly football team opens the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as I-AA but changed by the NCAA this season to “avoid confusion” with I-A, errr the Football Bowl Subdivision) season at Texas State on Saturday.
Our coverage of Cal Poly football continues Friday. Until then, here’s a look at some interesting stories about Cal Poly’s first opponent of what should be another exciting season of I-AA, I mean FCS football:

  • Texas State switches to flex defensive scheme. Hmmm … sounds familiar. You can get the complete story Friday when I write about my interesting interview with former Cal Poly linebackers coach Terrol Dillon, now a linebackers coach with Texas State.
  • Old friend becomes the new coach at Texas State. This isn’t the same Texas State team or coaching staff the Mustangs saw in the playoffs two years ago. Brad Wright has since taken over for departed head coach David Bailiff and has cleaned house.
  • Texas State will be without a key fullback and wide receiver for the Cal Poly game because of an injury and an arrest.
  • The weather forecast for the San Marcos area on Saturday calls for temperatures in the upper 80s and scattered thunderstorms. The muggy kickoff is scheduled for 6:05 local time (4:05 SLO time) at outdoor Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium (capacity of 15,218).

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shocking development for Poly volley

They don't call it the Wichita State Shocker Classic for nothing.
The Cal Poly volleyball team, which was 22-6 in season openers since 1979 and came into the season ranked 14th nationally, were shocked in five games by unranked Kansas State on Friday at the season-opening tournament in Wichita, Kan.
The Mustangs simply had no answer for K-State slugger Natalya Korobkova, who torched Cal Poly for 26 kills.
“It was a real difficult way to start our season,” head coach Jon Stevenson said Saturday morning. “We’re not the same team we were last year and have to figure it out.”
The Mustangs try to bounce back against North Texas tonight and Wichita State (whose mascot looks like the Scarecrow on steroids) on Sunday before their schedule gets really nasty.
Cal Poly plays its first 12 matches away from Mott Gym, including contests against No. 3 Penn State (Aug. 31), No. 1 Nebraska (Sept. 3), No. 17 BYU (Sept. 6) and No. 2 Stanford (Sept. 7).
The Mustangs don't return home until Sept. 21 when they open Big West Conference play against 19th-ranked Long Beach State.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hives gets defensive

Fred Hives II looked like a good fit at the Mike linebacker spot in Cal Poly's scrimmage on Thursday.
Hives you may recall was a fullback last season, rushing for 221 yards and two touchdowns in six games.
But with the departure of all-everything linebacker Kyle Shotwell last season, the Mustangs needed somebody to fill the Buck Buchanan award winner’s shoes at the Mike spot.
In keeping with the tradition of moving offensive skilled position players to the defensive side of the ball, head coach Rich Ellerson approached Hives about playing the Mike position and the now former fullback jumped at the chance to play everyday.
In the scrimmage, Hives came away with a nice interception on deflected pass across the middle and returning it down the sideline for what might’ve been touchdown had the coaches not blown the play dead to prevent any unnecessary collisions.
This isn’t the first time the Mustangs have converted a running back, quarterback or wide receiver to a key defensive position. Former Cal Poly cornerback Courtney Brown (converted wide receiver), safety/cornerback Cordel Webb (converted quarterback), linebacker Adam Martinez (converted fullback who went back to running back as a senior) and cornerback Anthony Randolph (converted wide receiver) all followed the same path. Heck, even NFLers Chris Gocong and Jordan Beck made a name for themselves as offensive players at the prep level before evolving into Buchanan award winners at Cal Poly.
So who’s Cal Poly’s next Buchanan candidate? Maybe it will be Hives.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Junior-laden Mustangs hope their time is now

Man is this team going to be good — next year.
That’s the first thing that ran through my head as I flipped through the 2007 Cal Poly football media guide today.
The Mustangs won’t be favored by many to win the Great West Football Conference this year, but they should be among the favorites in 2008.
Don’t get me wrong, this year’s junior-laden team could do some damage in the Great West if they figure out the quarterback situation and hold it together in the secondary, but look at the projected starting lineup and you’ll find only two seniors on offense and three seniors on defense. They lost a lot of experience, especially on defense, last year.
Next year, they’ll have seniors all over the place, including wide receivers Ramses Barden and Tredale Tolver, center Stephen Field, quarterbacks Matt Brennan and Jon Dally, and running backs Ryan Mole and James Noble.
That’s going to be big for the Mustangs, who are already under contract to open at I-A San Diego State in 2008.
In 2009, Cal Poly is scheduled to play another I-A in San Jose State but will likely be without all of the above skilled position players. Not good.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Former Mustangs part of MLB history

The game was blacked out locally for some reason, but had you been watching Tuesday’s San Francisco Giants-Washington Nationals game, you might have noticed a couple of Cal Poly connections during the historic night at AT&T Park.
Two former Mustang pitchers were on hand for Barry Bonds’ 756th home run, which came in the fifth inning of the Giants’ 8-6 loss to the Nationals.
Kevin Correia, drafted out of Cal Poly in 2002, came on as a reliever in the eighth and actually suffered the loss on the night Bonds became MLB’s all-time home run leader. Hey, I guess it’s better to get the loss than to be remembered as the guy who gave up the homer to Bonds.
Correia failed to get an out, allowing two runs on three hits along with a walk as Correia and the Giants squandered the one-run lead Bonds gave them three innings earlier. The right hander is now 1-6 on the season.
Cal Poly Hall of Famer Mike Krukow was also on hand as a radio broadcaster for KNBR.
“Kruk” was referenced a couple times by Bonds during his postgame news conference.
I’m looking forward to Kruk’s take on the home run tomorrow morning on KNBR 680 AM.