|« Nicholls State Says Goodbye to the Paddle||Lafayette's Ross Scheuerman making the most of his opportunities »|
Sac State defender aims to tame speedy Montana State
Ryan McMahon may be new to the Sacramento State football program, but he knows what happened the last time the Hornets played Montana State.
The Sac State safety played a stellar game last Saturday against Montana as he made eight tackles and broke up two passes in helping the Hornets beat the Grizzlies for the first time in 17 tries.
But that was last week.
Sac State (2-2, 1-1 Big Sky Conference) has an even tougher task Saturday at Montana State (3-1, 2-0), ranked No. 4 in the Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision poll.
The Hornets have not won in Bozeman since 1991 and trail the series 13-6 dating to 1964. Montana State has won the past six meetings.
Kickoff at newly renovated Bobcat Stadium is at 12:35 p.m. PDT.
After three years at USC – including redshirting last season – McMahon transferred to Sac State.
He was not around for last season’s 64-61 overtime shootout won by the Bobcats, but he has seen the game film and does not want that to happen again.
“We’re going to have to keep up our pace, because these guys come fast,” McMahon said of Montana State. “Montana was fast. These guys are on it and even faster.”
Last year, Sac State trailed by 27 points at halftime but rallied behind quarterback Jeff Fleming, who threw for five touchdowns and ran for another. Morris Norrise caught three of Fleming’s touchdown passes in the third quarter. However, the Bobcats kicked a field goal in overtime to take the lead and won the game when Sac State missed a potential game-tying field goal attempt of its own.
Montana State ended up sharing the Big Sky title with Eastern Washington, which eventually won the Football Championship Series title.
The Hornets say they are prepared for any type of game against the Bobcats – including another shootout – but defensive players such as McMahon do not want to get embarrassed. He said defensive backs are in trouble if their weaknesses get exposed on game film.
“Stick to your receiver because – in the previous game, if you don’t do that – you’ll be picked apart, especially (by) a team like Montana State,” he said.
Sac State held Montana’s passing game in check last week as Grizzlies quarterbacks Jordan Johnson and Nate Montana (the son of former 49ers great Joe Montana) combined to complete 12 of 27 passes for 184 yards. Johnson threw one touchdown pass but was picked off three times.
McMahon still kicks himself for not being able to turn his two pass breakups into interceptions. There is a big difference between forcing an offense to lose a down and taking the ball away.
The 6-foot, 190-pound junior flies all over the field to make plays. McMahon and linebacker Todd Davis lead the team in tackles with 40.
McMahon also is noted by his teammates and coaches for his aggressive play.
“Ryan brings a very good energy to our team,” coach Marshall Sperbeck said. “He plays on special teams, plays on defense. He plays the game with a lot of passion and loves the game of football.”
McMahon sets high standards for himself and credits defensive coordinator Anthony Parker and defensive backs coach Steve Roberson for his ability to make so many tackles.
“The coaches really work on putting me in the right places to make a lot of tackles and being in my position,” McMahon said.
By Dave Carpenter, The Sacramento Bee