I stepped through the gate and onto the rubber turf at Cal Poly football practice Friday, looking to take in all the sights. Junior guard Maurice McClure was there, but the only thing he was blocking was my view.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound big man had his left arm in a sling and sported no pads on a day when the rest of the team was in full pads for the first time.
Apparently, McClure dislocated his shoulder earlier in the week falling on top of a fumble. The sling, he said, wasn’t really serving much of a function, and the injury shouldn’t keep him out more than 2 or 3 weeks.
I like his optimism. I choose to believe it. But that timetable would still put him in jeopardy of missing the Sept. 4 season opener against Humboldt State. Any setbacks would affect his status for the Montana game the following week. Either way, it appears he’s out for the rest of training camp.
McClure started all of last season after earning a few spot starts when All-American Stephen Field went down with an injury in 2008. I’m far from an o-line aficionado, but McClure’s gotten good marks from every coach I’ve talked to.
Around the horn:
• Dominique Johnson was dressed out Friday, but the senior receiver wasn’t doing much with a bag full of ice stuffed down his right pant leg. He said he tweaked his hamstring, which seems like a common injury for receivers at the beginning of training camps. It doesn’t look like he’ll be out too long. Not much happened at the wideout spot without him. Mike Anderson stepped in and had a few short catches.
• Other injuries included sophomore cornerback Bijon Samoodi and true freshman safety Dave Douglas. Neither one wore pads on Friday. Samoodi reportedly hurt his leg during a conditioning drill earlier this week, and I didn’t get a chance to get the full report on Douglas. Safety looks to be shored up without Douglas, and at corner, Nipomo’s Kevin Britt was making some plays, knocking down an underthrown deep pass intended for speedy receiver Eric Gardley a day after grabbing an interception.
• I was almost ready to say the defense was ahead of the offense when the first few 11 on 11 rotations yielded little to speak of on offense, but the running game seemed to pick up as the day went on. Fullbacks Jordan Yocum and Jake Romanelli had a big play each, but the younger backs really took over. Sophomore slotback Gabe Umoh and freshman fullback Derrick Hawkins, a late addition to the roster, both busted long runs. Hawkins seems to break a lot of tackles, and Umoh, a former fullback, showed some fancy footwork.
• Looks like former St. Joseph High star K.J. Cusack has cut the hairdo that inspired me to liken him to a Justin Bieber stunt double. The true freshman running back is sporting a buzz cut to kick off his Cal Poly career.
• QB UPDATE: Tony Smith still looks to be on top. Andre Broadous had a costly fumbled pitch that had offensive coordinator Bryan Cook fuming. Broadous did work the option well at times, though, hitting David Mahr on a shuttle pass for a big gain up the middle and a pitch to Yocum for a nice run around the edge. Smith’s passes were much more crisp. Apologies to the readers, but it just doesn’t look like the younger guys are ready to be included in the starting mix yet.