2016 Big Sky Preview: Cal Poly Mustangs

2015 Record: 4-7 (3-5)

Key Returners: Joe Protheroe, Kori Garcia, Kyle Lewis, Khaleel Jenkins

Key Losses: Willie Tucker, Stephen Pyle, Kaulin Blair, Chris Brown

The Cal Poly Mustangs finished 4-7 last year despite having the country’s leading rushing offense. Last season they checked in with 387 yards per game, 40 yards more than the next nearest team, The Citadel. The Mustangs will undoubtedly miss the production from quarterback Chris Brown, however, they return two of their offensive backfield in Kori Garcia and Joe Protheroe. The Mustangs, led by head coach Tim Walsh, in his eighth season, will look to rebound from a disappointing season in the win/loss column. Walsh has had a good amount of success since arriving at Cal Poly, piling up a 43-37 record while with the Mustangs.

The combination of the two returning running backs checked in with 1559 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. With that kind of combo returning you have to think that Cal Poly will be in the hunt again next season for the rushing title. Hard to tell of either will be in the hunt for the individual rushing title in the Big Sky considering how many ways the ball is split between ball carriers in their triple option based offense. The Mustangs will be breaking in a new quarterback this season to lead their multi-headed triple option rushing attack.

One reason you could say the Mustangs struggled last season was their defense, which ranked 112th out of 123 FCS teams. They gave up 6.4 yards per play and 457 yards per game. The combination of those two things don’t typically add up to success, and a reason why the Mustangs finished with four wins. However, on offense the Mustangs were a relatively good team, finishing with 478 yards per game. That was good enough for eighth in the country, tied with fellow Big Sky team Eastern Washington. While the Mustangs did a lot of damage on the ground and controlled football games they were prone to getting hammered on the defensive side of the ball. The Mustangs finished +3 in the touchdown category last season.

The Mustangs are picked to finish ninth this coming season and I’d say that’s going to be accurate if they cannot improve their defense. Their schedule sets them up for, in theory, five wins but that’s going to be dependent on the offense keeping the defense off the field. The schedule for the Mustangs isn’t going to be easy. They will start their season at Nevada then host Montana and travel to South Dakota State. They’ll also be at North Dakota and Portland State, and also host Eastern Washington. Difficult schedule for this team, they have a lot of work to do to get to .500. Tim Walsh will probably get a bye if the Mustangs really struggle but you have to think that this trend cannot continue for much longer.

9/2     at Nevada
9/10     vs. San Diego
9/17     at South Dakota State
9/24     vs. Montana
10/1     at North Dakota
10/15     at Portland State
10/22     vs. UC Davis
10/29     at Sacramento State
11/5     vs. Eastern Washington
11/12     at Weber State
11/19     vs. Northern Colorado

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I'm a Wyoming native living in Missoula, Montana. I'm the owner of, a fan site for the Wyoming Cowboys. Now that I live in the heart of the Big Sky Conference I write about things that focus on those teams. I watch and read a lot of college football, probably more than is healthy. Hit me up on the Twitters @MrTitleist or @WyoNationDotCom Go Pokes, Go Griz!

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