Cal Poly to Visit Montana Seeking First Victory of 2011 Season
CAL POLY NOTES (pdf)
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly (0-1,0-0 Great West), which opened its third campaign under head coach Tim Walsh with a 49-21 setback at San Diego State, concludes its season-opening two-game road trip Saturday afternoon with a stop at Missoula, Mont., against Montana (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky).
Kickoff in Washington-Grizzly Stadium (25,217) is set for 12:05 p.m. PDT and the contest will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio (1280 am) with Tom Barket providing the play-by-play and Eric Burdick doing color commentary. The game also will be televised live by KSBY. Links for audio and video streams as well as live stats will be available on www.GoPoly.com.
Cal Poly faces another ambitious schedule under third-year head coach Tim Walsh, taking on a pair of FBS teams, two FCS squads in the national polls and another team that is undefeated the past two seasons. Both San Diego State and Northern Illinois won bowl games in 2010, Montana has a pair of FCS national championships to its credit and Eastern Washington claimed the FCS crown last fall. South Alabama has not lost a football game in the program's three-year existence. Cal Poly's 11 foes in 2011 posted a combined 76-53 win-loss record in 2010.
"We have as tough a schedule as you could want at this level," said Walsh. "Our goal is to win the Great West Conference championship and, as far as the playoffs go, we have to win some tough road games to get there. Every game, we will have to play our best. Three of our first four games are on the road and, at the very worst, we have to go 2-2 to stay in the playoff hunt."
The Mustangs opened the 2011 campaign armed with nearly 50 returning lettermen, including 14 starters, off a team which likely finished two points shy of a postseason berth, letting a 21-3 halftime lead slip away in a 22-21 loss to rival UC Davis in the final game of the 2010 season.
Last Saturday, seeking to beat San Diego State for the third time in six years, the Mustangs surrendered the first two touchdowns of the game, rallied to within 14-7 and 21-14, then allowed three unanswered scores as the Aztecs pulled away for the win. Cal Poly scored its three touchdowns on the ground -- a three-yard run by slotback Mark Rodgers, a 17-yard run by fullback Jake Romanelli and a two-yard run by quarterback Andre Broadous. San Diego State compiled a 492-284 advantage in total offense and 22-12 in first downs.
Montana fell 42-16 at Tennessee in a game delayed nearly two hours at the start due to rain. The Griz held Tennessee to 128 yards rushing but gave up 311 through the air. Montana's touchdowns came on an 81-yard pass from Jordan Johnson to Jabin Sambrano and a seven-yard run by Jordan Canada. The Griz also scored a safety.
One year shy of their first venture to the Big Sky Conference, the Mustangs welcomed back six starters on offense and eight on defense, plus several other players who started a few games or accumulated a lot of playing time as backups. Among those are Broadous, who started four games at quarterback last fall, and numerous defensive players who rotated in and out of the lineup with the starters.
Broadous backed up Tony Smith for two seasons and entered fall camp as the No. 1 guy to call the signals on offense. A year ago, the junior from Portland, Oregon, completed 41 of 64 passes (64.1 percent) for 510 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing 87 times for 305 yards and three more scores out of the Mustangs' triple option.
The Mustangs also will be led by Rodgers (882 yards and eight TDs rushing; 20 catches, and three more TDs), Romanelli (459 yards, eight TDs) and a veteran offensive line which includes seniors Scott Winnewisser, Art Munoz and Maurice McClure.
Top returnees on defense are Buck Buchanan Award candidate Asa Jackson (55 tackles, two interceptions) at cornerback, linebackers Johnny Millard (38 tackles, two forced fumbles) and Kennith Jackson (67 tackles) and linemen Erich Klemme (28 tackles, 2.5 sacks), Kyle Murphy 23 tackles, six hurries) and Gavin Cooper (39 tackles, six sacks, six hurries), who is sidelined following offseason foot surgery.
Montana, coached by Robin Pflugrad (second season at Montana (7-5), Portland State '79) returned 43 lettermen, including 16 starters, off last year's team which went 7-4, finished third in the Big Sky Conference at 5-3 and missed the FCS playoffs for the first time in 18 years. The Griz have won 15 Big Sky titles with 20 FCS playoff appearances, including seven trips to the championship game, capturing national titles in 1995 and 2001. Montana has finished atop the Big Sky 15 of the last 18 seasons.
The Mustangs and Grizzlies are meeting for the 16th time and Cal Poly has won just two previous contests -- 35-21 in the first round of the 2005 NCAA FCS playoffs at Missoula and 35-33 a year ago in Alex G.Spanos Stadium. Montana won the 2009 game 35-23 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, overcoming early 10-0 and 17-7 deficits.
Cal Poly has captured three Great West Conference titles in the seven-year history of the league (2004, 2005, 2008) and earned NCAA Division I FCS playoff berths in both 2005 and 2008, reaching the quarterfinals in 2005. The Mustangs have won 59 of their last 92 games dating back to the 2002 season finale and have won 21 of their last 43 games on the road and 38 of their last 46 home contests.
Next week, Cal Poly opens its five-game home schedule with a 4:05 p.m. kickoff (Youth Day and Military Appreciation Day) against South Dakota State on Sept. 17 in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.