SAN LUIS OBISPO. Calif. — Southern Utah (1-9, 1-6 BSC) heads to California to take on Cal Poly (4-6, 3-4 BSC) in the 2018 football season finale.
At the end of a long season the T-Birds will take on the fourth most prolific rushing attack in the nation. Cal Poly’s triple option offense has been a force to be reckoned with all season long.
Once considered a relic of college football’s origins, the triple option is almost revolutionary in today’s game because so few teams run the ground based offensive scheme. The offense is difficult to stop and requires strict discipline in taking care of assignments to slow down.
That has been the bane of SUU’s defense all season long, and Saturday’s game will be a chance to improve on what Coach Demario Warren often calls “doing the little things.”
The matchup will be senior day for the Mustangs, and will be the last game for many of SUU’s most decorated players.
Among those players set to move on are middle linebackers Chinedu Ahanonu and Taylor Nelson who were both on the Big Sky Championship winning teams of 2015 and 2017.
The game will also mark the most injury riddled season for a group of quarterbacks in recent memory. Four different quarterbacks have started this season for the Thunderbirds.
Jay Green Jr. has been one of the most consistent performers all season, and he comes into the game with 815 rushing yards on 157 carries. Green has been a workhorse all season long, and has 100 carries more than any other back on the team.
The offense will be led by some combination of Aaron Zwahlen, Austin Ewing and Tyler Skidmore though Ewing may be unavailable after suffering an injury last week.
Last week against Weber State Zwahlen flashed the big arm he was recruited for on a 56 yard bomb to Landen Measom. Overall though, Zwahlen has been inconsistent, throwing only two touchdowns against five interceptions.
Skidmore led a nice little drive in the fourth quarter of the Weber game, and has shown a lot of heart in his playing time this season.
SUU’s defense gave up 236 yards rushing to Weber’s Josh Davis, and against a team whose entire offense is designed around the run, Cal Poly may prove to be a very tough opponent.
Cal Poly fullback Joe Protheroe has rushed for 1634 yards and 13 touchdowns, and quarterback Khaleel Jenkins has rushed for 725 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Mustangs can move the ball on the ground, and SUU will have to at least slow the rushing attack to have a chance at this one.
Coming into this game Cal Poly has won two of their last three with the lone loss being a close game against Montana. That being said, the Mustangs are by no means world beaters. If SUU can slow the run and put up some points they can definitely win this game.
Tune in Saturday, Nov, 17 on Pluto.tv channel 244 to find out if the T-Birds can spoil the senior day parade in the 2018 season finale.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: Mitchell Quartz