|« 351 Division I Programs - One Voice||UTC needs another fast start at Georgia Southern »|
UC Davis seeks breakthrough in Big Sky opener
Last year, UC Davis and Idaho State engaged in an entertaining shootout that the Aggies won 52-45 in Pocatello.
It was the most points scored by UC Davis in 2012, and the Aggies’ 640 yards were their most since 2008.
While UC Davis coach Ron Gould isn’t sure what to expect when the Bengals (2-1) visit the Aggies (0-4) on Saturday in a Big Sky Conference opener, all that matters is getting a victory. UC Davis is trying to avoid its worst start since going 0-5 in 1960.
“The goal is to get a ‘W,’ ” Gould said. “If that means 56-55 or 10-9, whatever it is, that’s the goal.”
Idaho State won only three games the past two seasons and has lost 40 consecutive road games. The Bengals are coming off a 56-0 loss at then-No. 17 Washington after opening the season with wins over Division II Dixie State (40-14) of St. George, Utah, and Western State (29-3) of Gunnison, Colo.
But Idaho State has a coach with a track record. Mike Kramer, in his third year after successful stops at Eastern Washington and Montana State, is fourth all-time in Big Sky coaching wins.
“They’re dangerous,” Gould said. “If they can throw it 100 times a game, they would.”
That might benefit the Aggies. Last week in a 41-10 loss to visiting Portland State in a nonconference game, they intercepted three passes.
But UC Davis couldn’t stop the Vikings’ running game. Portland State rushed for 427 yards and finished with 601 total yards.
The Aggies had trouble bringing down Portland State’s DJ Adams, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior who rushed for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
The Maryland transfer had a career-best 85-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“(Adams) reminded me a lot of Onterrio Smith in how violently he ran the ball,” Gould said. “He felt the contact and ran angry, shaking off tackles.”
The star-crossed Smith starred at Grant High School before going on to play at Tennessee and Oregon and with the Minnesota Vikings.
“The guys know they have to do a better job of wrapping guys up,” Gould said.
A bigger concern is the Aggies’ offense, last in the Big Sky in scoring (8.5 points) and total yards (266.5) and 16 for 61 on third-down conversions.
“Everybody is disappointed,” senior wide receiver Tom Hemmingsen said. “There is no sense of loafing. Everyone is giving high effort.
“It would be one thing if we were looking at film and were just physically overmatched. We’re not getting outplayed; we’re getting out-executed.”
Big boys still dominate – While much has been made of Eastern Washington’s 49-46 upset of then-No. 25 Oregon State on Aug. 31 and Portland State giving Cal fits before falling 37-30 on Sept. 7, the Big Sky’s other five defeats to Pacific-12 Conference teams have been one-sided, including Sacramento State’s 55-0 loss at Arizona State.
Despite his team’s loss at Washington, Idaho State’s Kramer had nothing but praise for the Huskies.
“I have been coaching football a long time,” he said. “With the way coach (Steve) Sarkisian and his staff treated us, knowing that we were wounded and not playing real well, they showed one of the most outstanding examples of sportsmanship and care … that I have ever seen.”
Kramer still has nightmares of 2012, when then-No. 25 Nebraska routed Idaho State 73-7.
By Bill Paterson, The Sacramento Bee