SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly redshirt freshman slotback Xavier Moore broke off a 75-yard run for the lone touchdown of a 41-play scrimmage Saturday morning at Doerr Family Field.
Moore took a pitch from junior quarterback Jake Jeffrey, scampered around right end and outran a pair of Mustang defenders down the right sideline for the score near the end of the first scrimmage of Fall Camp.
Other than that play, the Cal Poly defense, with 10 players who started five or more games a year ago, performed well, stopping the offense on numerous drives. Led by signal-caller Kyle Reid, the offense moved the ball to the defense’s eight-yard line before the defense stiffened and held.
“After seven practices and only our second in full pads, we did some good things,” said 11th-year Mustang head coach Tim Walsh, “but we’ve definitely got some things to work on.
“I thought the defense was really good,” Walsh added. “Outside of that one play, when the offense got something going, the defense made stops and got off the field. That’s what they have to do.”
While the defense is loaded with veteran players, the Mustang offense has to replace its starting quarterback, record-breaking fullback, a slotback and four linemen.
“On offense, we did’t finish drives but we made some plays,” Walsh continued. “We’ve got to work on finishing. That’s part of the problem.”
The defense recorded four sacks — by Brandon Davis, Saia Fonongaloa, Kevin Howell and Charles Lincoln — and three other tackles for lost yardage — Davis, Dustin Grein and Caden McCloughan.
“Our tackling was better, the contact was better, we were more physical,” said Walsh. “We will probably do it again on Tuesday and we’ll see where we are in another scrimmage next Saturday. “We definitely have made strides and some improvement and that’s what we’re looking for this early in the season.”
Aside from Moore’s 75-yard touchdown run, the offense produced six other plays of 10 or more yards.
Slotback CJ Cole ran 23 yards around left end for a first down while quarterback Jalen Hamler broke off a 21-yard run for another first down. Hamler also had 11- and 14-yard runs, slotback Lepi Lataimua also contributed an 11-yard run and fullback Dusty Frampton gained 10 yards up the middle for a first down.
“The defense is ahead of the offense and that’s normal, but we’re still a ways away from being efficient in what we’re doing every play that we run,” said Walsh.
When Walsh assessed the performance of last year’s 5-6 squad, two things stood out — poor tackling and lost fumbles. There were no turnovers in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“That’s a real positive — we held onto the football,” said Walsh, whose club lost 15 fumbles in 2018, tied with three other teams for the most in the Football Championship Subdivision. “Moving forward, knock on wood. This was scrimmage No. 1, but after 41 plays we’re off to a good start.
“There were a few missed tackles in the open field,” Walsh added, “but at the line of scrimmage we tackled better and that was important for us to do.”
No decision has been made on the three-man quarterback battle.
“The quarterback situation is the same,” said Walsh. “That competition will continue. All of them did some good things today. All of them have the ability to lead us. We’ll see what happens.”
The Doerr Family Field was well occupied Saturday.
“Everyone played. All 104 guys had an opportunity to contribute,” said Walsh.
Tuesday’s scrimmage of about 50 plays will begin at about 10:30 a.m. A situational scrimmage is set for next Saturday morning.
Cal Poly opens its 2019 season in three weeks against the University of San Diego. The August 31 contest kicks off at 2 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Children 13 and under receive free admission on Youth Day. In addition, free clear bags will be distributed to the first 3,000 fans in attendance.
For tickets, click the tickets link at www.GoPoly.com.