Defense Wins the Day at Cal Poly Spring Game

Updated: May 7, 2017

Two weeks earlier, the offense was the clear winner. On Saturday, Cal Poly’s defense bowed up and, in a rarity, won the Cal Poly Spring Game, 48-25. In a contest where the defense got points for forcing turnovers and four-and-out drives by the offense. 

In stark contrast to the Saturday scrimmage a few weeks ago, Cal Poly’s offense just couldn’t get going. Tim Walsh’s defense finished the day with five turnovers in what was an unexpected rout of their offensive teammates. The offense did manage to hit on three field goals and got a late 54-yard pass from Khaleel Jenkins to Kyle Lewis, but wasn’t able to do much else.

Jayson Lee led the defense with seven tackles and LJ Mealancon notched six tackles and a fumble recovery.

The offense will have to hang onto the ball better than they did Saturday in the Fall. By Owen Main

Keep it off the ground

Sure, it was just the spring game, but Cal Poly’s triple option offense won’t be able to withstand the rate of turnovers they committed. It wasn’t just one guy, but turnovers doomed the Mustangs two years ago.

It will be interesting to see the tone Jenkins and co. set when it comes to holding onto the football in the Fall. Hopefully something like this won’t be a scene in any classrooms on-campus in the Fall… .


If you were a bright-side guy, and I often am, you could argue that the defense did a really great job of stripping the ball and causing the turnovers. Cal Poly’s defense hasn’t been good at causing turnovers over the past few years, so maybe this could be indicative of a new trend. Also, maybe it was just the Spring Game. 

Offensive depth

Cal Poly will have some offensive depth at a few key positions. Quarterback won’t be one of them. Khaleel Jenkins is presumed to be the number-one guy, with Kory Fox and Jake Jeffrey backing him up. 

Chuby Danu is a redshirt freshman who looks like he can step in and play right away in 2017. By Owen Main

Where they do seem to have depth is at some of the “wear and tear” positions. At fullback, Joe Protheroe will be back as a senior. We know he’s a beast, but keeping his touches down early while still running a productive offense will be an interesting challenge. That’s where Jared Mohamed could really be key. Mohamed, who will also be a senior next season, has proven to be reliable with the ball and has a knack for falling forward. Two tough-running seniors at fullback are always a welcome sight for a first-year starting quarterback at Cal Poly.

At slot back, senior Kyle Lewis will be important. Lewis caught the only touchdown on Saturday and will be the Mustangs’ most consistent home-run threat. The problem will be that opponents will look at tape on Lewis and try to find ways to disrupt him getting into space. Stopping Protheroe and Mohamed up the middle vs. Lewis in space figures to be a tough decision for opposing defenses next year. 

Chuby Danu looked polished and strong for a redshirt freshman Tim Walsh called “very fast.” Tre Green, also a redshirt freshman, broke off a nice run as well from the slot back position. 

Pursue and destroy

Cal Poly’s defense put on a good show Saturday. Coach Walsh noted after the game that they did so without a number of linebackers who didn’t play. They were also without Kevin Griffin and Jerek Rosales, so depth throughout the defensive roster seems to continue to be a strength. 

BJ Nard and Kitu Humphrey should be returning starters at safety for a defense that has some room to improve from last season. 

Junior Khaleel Jenkins rushes on Saturday. By Owen Main

The Jenkins Show

Khaleel Jenkins, a junior next season, will have a lot riding on his decision-making in the Fall. His ability to be a third threat out of the backfield, hold onto the ball, and make great decisions will have tremendous impact on the Mustangs’ ceiling in 2017. If he can minimize turnovers, throw the ball accurately, and make great reads, Cal Poly has the supporting cast to, again, be really good offensively. While he didn’t have the greatest showing on Saturday, Jenkins has shown, in spurts, the ability he has to break big plays in games and put points on the board. 

The boot

Cal Poly kickers looked good on Saturday, at least on field goals. Casey Sublette (50 yards) and Alex Vega (52 yards) each made long ones. Sublette, a left-footed place-kicker, has punted both lefty and righty in games before. Kind of an oddity, but a fun one to watch on special teams. 

Who’s ready for Fall?!


Cal Poly 2017 schedule

Home Games in Bold,   <>    * Big Sky Conference game


August 27th (Sunday) vs. Colgate (4:05pm)

September 2 at San Jose State (TBD)

September 9 at Northern Iowa (2:00pm)

September 23 vs. Northern Arizona (6:05pm)*

September 30 at Idaho State (TBD)*

October 7 at Southern Utah (TBD)* 

October 21 vs. Weber State (6:05pm)*

October 28 at UC Davis (TBD)*

November 4 vs. Portland State (6:05)*

November 11 vs. Sacramento State (6:05)*

November 18 at Northern Colorado (TBD)*