Nov 2, 2012 7:47 PM by Bill Halter

Tough challenge coming up for Cal Poly football

The 16th ranked Cal Poly football team plays at 7th ranked Eastern Washington on Saturday at 1:35pm in a game with playoff implications for both teams. The Mustangs and Eagles are tied for second place in the Big Sky Conference but this will be a non-conference game. The teams were not scheduled against each other in Big Sky play but decided to schedule a non-conference game.

Cal Poly enters with a 7-1 overall record after losing at Sacramento State last week. Eastern Washington is also coming off a loss, the Eagles dropped a 30-27 contest at Southern Utah. Before that loss Eastern Washington was the top ranked team in the nation in both major polls. The Eagles are 6-2, their other loss was at Washington State, 24-20.

Eastern Washington has an explosive offense led my two quarterbacks. True freshman Vernon Adams and junior Kyle Padron split snaps. Adams is more of a running quarterback, Padron is a 6'4" pocket passer who transfered from Southern Methodist. "We will have to have two different game plans for their two different quarterbacks" said Cal Poly head Coach Tim Walsh.

There are plenty of talented targets for the Eagles quarterbacks led by 6'5" junior Brandon Kaufman. Kaufman has 47 receptions for 912 yards and 8 touchdowns. Kaufman had 11 catches for 201 yards last week against Southern Utah. He was injured last season when Eastern Washington won 53-51 at Cal Poly in triple overtime.

Coach Walsh thinks three of the Eagles receivers could play in the NFL someday. "Their skill positions, scary I'd say is probably a pretty good word. I really think all three wide receivers are going to play at the next level. That's a pretty amazing statement for any coach to make when that's your opponent at the FCS level. They're all about 6'3", 6"4, 205-210 pounds. They're very athletic, they're very competitive for the football" said Walsh.

Last week the Mustangs gave up 303 yards passing in the loss at Sacramento State. Cal Poly starting right cornerback Vante Smith-Johnson left after the first play because of a concussion. Walsh said on Monday that Smith-Johnson is expected to play against Eastern Washington. The Eagles average 287 yards passing and 140 yards rushing per game. Coach Walsh said he also expects fullback Akinyene Umoh to return after missing four games with a hamstring strain. Brandon Howe, who filled in for Umoh tore the MCL in his left knee against Sacramento State and will miss the rest of the season.

Cal Poly averages 323 rushing yards per game, third best in the nation. Defensively the Eagles have struggled against the run, allowing 149 yards rushing per game.

A win for the Mustangs would put them back on track for a first round bye in the FCS playoffs. A loss would put them on the playoff bubble with two game to go. Eastern Washington is in the same situation.

Cal Poly finishes the season with a home game against Idaho State (1-7) and a road game at Northern Arizona (7-1). Both are conference games and if the Mustangs can win both they will earn at least a share of the Big Sky championship.

Eastern Washington won the national championship in 2010. The Eagles play on a red turf field in Cheney, Washington.



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