Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mustangs need to get healthy

After the Cal Poly football team found itself trailing Division II Western Oregon 10-0 in the second quarter Saturday, a few of the 8,837 fans on hand began to boo, which is something I haven’t heard since Mustang Stadium was renamed Alex G. Spanos Stadium a couple years ago.
On the kickoff following Western Oregon’s field goal making it 10-0, one of those disgruntled fans even showered the Mustangs with a, “Where’s your varsity squad?”
It was a tongue-in-cheek comment, but one had to look no further than the Cal Poly sideline to see where the Mustangs’ first team was.
Starting running back Ryan Mole was in street clothes with a sprained left knee.
Nose tackle James Chen was on crutches with a season-ending knee injury.
Defensive end/linebacker Ryan Shotwell had his helmet off for much of the game because of an ankle injury.
And the Mustangs’ other starting running back, James Noble, watched the latter half of the game with an ice pack taped to his left knee.
It was fitting ending to the Mustangs’ 24-17 victory over Western Oregon considering how beat up they are four weeks into the season.
Heading into Week 5, the Mustangs must feel like they’re entering Week 11.
Players held out of the starting lineup Saturday included Noble (knee), Mole (sprained left knee), Shotwell (ankle), strong tackle Mike Porter (undisclosed medical condition) and center Stephen Field (foot). Backup fullback Kevin Spach also was out, which left the Mustangs’ triple-option without three key running backs on the two-deep (which is exactly why Cal Poly hasn’t rushed for a touchdown in 15 quarters).
After the game, head coach Rich Ellerson said he expects a handful of those players to be available for Saturday’s game against Northern Colorado, a team that is still winless on the season after dropping its Big Sky Conference opener to Northern Arizona.
After the Northern Colorado game, the Mustangs get a much needed bye before four straight road games. If Cal Poly doesn’t get back to full strength by the conference opener at UC Davis, the Mustangs are going to be in trouble come Great West Football Conference play.
Don’t believe me? Look at Saturday’s scores and you’ll see just what I mean:
UC Davis 28, Northeastern 10.
North Dakota State 44, I-A Central Michigan 14.
South Dakota State 38, Texas State 3.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Brian, that is not why fans were booing. The booing was a result of the repetitive, terrible offensive play-calling. Cal Poly has two of the best offensive players in DIAA (Noble and Barden), yet they hardly get used in the offense. I think the fans booing were tired of watching 3 and out pitch plays to everyone but Noble, when last year Noble ran the ball up and down the field each game. They are also tired of watching Ramses catch just about every pass thrown to him, yet only seeing a handful of passes a game actually thrown to him.

Quickly checking the stats, Noble only had 167 yards rushing going into last night. The last two years a 167 yard GAME was normal for him. He also has ZERO touchdowns.

Speaking for myself only, I am sick of the triple option, sick of the horrible play calling on offense, and don't think the playoffs are in our future this season (which is so sad because of how great we could be).

Maybe that is why you heard the booing.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with "Anonymous". I attended the game and the fans are frustrated by the play calling that does not include anything new -- in other words everybody in the stadium and on the other side of the ball all know what is coming. It is hard to believe that the triple option has turned James Noble into simply a blocking back for Hall and Dally. What a waste of raw talent and ability. With the triple option, who doesn't hold their breath every time the ball is tossed with varying accuracy to whomever is supposed to be receiving the option. It is time to start to capitalize on guys like Noble, Tolver, and Barden -- NONE of them are getting enough touches yet. I do have to admit that I am most impressed with the maturity that Noble has shown with his willingness to take all 5'6" of his body and put it into blocking mode.

By the way, I spoke with several players and while they were NOT intimidated with Western Oregon, they did say that their opponents were a good football team that they needed to take very seriously. After the first half I believe that we all saw a Western Oregon team that was pretty good and a Cal Poly team that was not quite hitting on all cylinders.