PDF Version of Game Notes
Radio: KTKZ 1380 AM
Live Stats: Hornetsports.com
A BRIEF PREVIEW
The Sacramento State football team will make its first appearance at Hornet Stadium this Saturday, Sept. 14, when it welcomes Southern Oregon at 6:05 p.m. The Hornets come into the week with an 0-2 record after falling at San Jose State and at Arizona State. Southern Oregon is also 0-2.
There will be multiple ways to follow this week's game. Hornet fans can tune in to KTKZ 1380 AM (The Answer) to hear the radio call of Jason Ross, Steve McElroy and Danny Sullivan. Live audio streaming is also available via www.hornetsports.com and on the iHeart Radio application for mobile devices.
This week's game will not be televised but can be seen on WatchBigSky.com The service is free but requires viewers to register.
The Hornets are coming off back-to-back shutout losses against FBS teams. Although this season marks the first time that Sacramento State has been held scoreless in its first two games, it is also the first time that the team has played teams from a higher division in both contests.
Southern Oregon suffered its second loss in as many games with a 38-34 loss at Montana Western on Saturday. The Raiders have lost their two games by a combined nine points and are averaging 518.0 yards of total offense per game.
Last season, SOU set a college football record by averaging 642.0 yards per game, including 448.8 yards through the air. Quarterback Austin Dodge returns from that team and has averaged 365.0 passing yards per game in 2013. Dodge also has four touchdowns with three interceptions.
The Raider defense has forced four turnovers in their two games with three interceptions. The unit is led by Mylz Blake who has 16 tackles on the season.
Marshall Sperbeck is in his seventh season as the head coach at Sacramento State. During that span, Sperbeck has produced a 30-39 overall record. For a complete bio, please see page 2.
Southern Oregon is coached by Craig Howard who is in his third season with the team. Howard has a 14-10 overall record with SOU. Prior to taking the job, Howard was a high school head coach in Florida for eight years. During that time, he won a state title in 2005 and reached two other title games, while coaching Tim Tebow.
Sacramento State leads the all-time series, 5-1. The two teams faced one another five times between 1955 and 1962. During that stretch, the Hornets won the first four, including a 7-6 win 1955 which gave the program its first football victory. Southern Oregon's lone win came in 1962, 21-7, in Ashland, Ore. After a 46-year break, the team's last met on Sept. 13, 2008 where Sacramento State was victorious, 27-16.
• Sacramento State will begin its season against three non-Football Championship Subdivision teams for only the second time in the Div. I era (1993-pres.). The only other occurrence came in 2008 where the Hornets hosted Humboldt State and Southern Oregon around a road game at Colorado State.
TURNING THE TABLES
• Sacramento State has made a habit of playing FBS opponents over the last 12 years. In fact, counting the two matchups this season, the Hornets have faced 15 teams from the upper subdivision during that span.
• This weekend, it will be Sacramento State playing the role of the bigger team as it meets a foe from the NAIA. The game will mark just the fifth time that the Hornets have played a lower division team in the last 10 years.
Games Against Non-Div. I Teams Since 2003
Team (Date), Div., Result
Azusa Pacific (10/8/05), NAIA, W, 41-19
Humboldt State (8/30/08), Div. II, W, 45-13
Southern Oregon (9/13/08), NAIA, W, 27-16
Western Oregon (9/11/10), NAIA, W, 31-17
REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME
• For quarterback Jihad Vercher and running back Demetrius Warren, the Arizona State game will always be remembered as their first collegiate action.
• Vercher, a true freshman from Los Angeles, made his debut in the first quarter as the holder on the Hornets' field goal attempt. He took his first snaps at quarterback midway through the third quarter and finished the game 1-for-2 for five yards. Vercher added 14 rushing yards on three attempts but was also sacked for a 13-yard loss giving him a net of 1 yard.
• Vercher became the first true freshman to play quarterback for Sacramento State since Blake Mori saw action on one series against UC Davis in 2002. The last true freshman to see significant time at the position was Garrett White 1998.
• Warren also came in late against the Sun Devils. The redshirt freshman picked up 18 yards in eight carries, including back-to-back carries for a first down. His total was the second highest on the team in the game.
• Junior Brandon Kellermann recorded his first career tackle as a Hornet with a special teams takedown at ASU.
ADDED UP FAST
• Linebacker Russell Smith and cornerback Osagie Odiase became the first Sacramento State players to record double-digit tackles in a game this season as Smith was credited with 14 stops and Odiase 10 at Arizona State.
• Smith, a true freshman from Loomis, Calif., had 10 solo tackles among his total which is the highest total by a Sacramento State player since Mike Brannon had 11 solos and 16 total against Eastern Washington on Oct. 27, 2007.
• Smith was a high school cornerback at Del Oro HS. He originally committed to play at Nevada where he grey shirted in the fall of 2012. He transferred to Sacramento State last spring and has four years of eligibility as well as a redshirt season if needed.
• Odiase was not far behind Smith's total as he made a career high nine solo stops. The double-digit effort is the third highest for the Santa Fe Springs, Calif., native. The four-year starter had 11 tackles against Northern Colorado and at Eastern Washington last season.
EASY DAY'S WORK
• One person who saw limited time in the spotlight at Arizona State was the referee. The two teams were called for a combined six penalties with Sacramento State being flagged for five. ASU's total of one penalty for five yards is the lowest by a Hornet opponent in the Div. I era and believed to be the lowest in school history.
• Through two games this year, Sacramento State has been whistled for 13 penalties totaling 76 yards. Their opponents have been called for four penalties for 25 yards.
BRINGING THE BOOM
• Senior Justin Weldon has enjoyed a strong start to the season, averaging 44.5 yards per punt on 14 attempts. That mark places Weldon in a tie for 12th place among all FCS punters. He has also placed five punts inside the 20-yard line and has forced four fair catches.
• At Arizona State, Weldon unloaded a 67-yard punt which is his longest of the year. That punt is now tied for seventh longest in program history and gives him three kicks of at least 65 yards during his career. The Madera, Calif., native is the only player in Hornet history to achieve that feat surpassing Mitch Lively, Jimmy Sanchez and Steve Thorns who each have two.
• Weldon's career average of 43.28 yards on 50 attempts is the best in school history. If he can maintain that pace throughout the season, he would break Doyle Brunson's record of 42.27 which was set from 1968-69.
• Last season, Weldon averaged 42.81 yards per punt which ranks third in school single-season history.
HOME SWEET HOME OPENER
• Sacramento State has had a lot of success in home openers under Marshall Sperbeck. The team has posted a 5-1 mark in the previous six years with the lone loss coming against Eastern Washington in 2009.
• In 2011, the Hornets knocked off Montana, 49-28, for the team's first win over the Griz.
• Since 2000, Sacramento State has only opened the year at home twice. The first came against Saint Mary's in 2001 and then again against Humboldt State in 2008.
• The latest the team has played its home opener in the Div. I era was against Northern Arizona on Sept. 29, 2007.
MO ON THE MOVE
• Senior Morris Norrise extended his streak to 16-straight games in which he's played with a catch. In fact, Norrise has had two receptions in every game and four or more in 14 of the 16.
• Nearly a quarter of Garrett Safron's completions last season were hauled in by Morris Norrise. The senior caught a career high 60 passes in 2012 which tied him for fourth in school history. Norrise also led the team with 777 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
• The Berkeley, Calif., native was named to the 2013 Big Sky preseason team and was a second team all-conference selection following last season. He was honorable mention all-Big Sky the previous two years.
• Norrise either is in second place or within striking distance of second for nearly every career receiving record at Sacramento State. Below is a look at where Norrise ranks on the Sacramento State career lists:
Career Receptions Total Needs
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04, 248
2. Morris Norrise, 2010-pres., 143
Career Receiving Yards Total Needs
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04, 4,4049
2. Morris Norrise, 2010-pres., 1,865
Career Receiving Touchdowns, Total
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04, 27
2. Mike Carter, 1968-69, 17
3. Lamont Webb, 1997-2000, 16
T4. Morris Norrise, 2010-pres., 15
T4. Tony Washington, 2007-08, 15
T4. Eric Harrington, 1992-93, 15
• In his first full year as a starter (2012), Safron set the Sacramento State single season record with 246 completions and a 64.2 completion percentage. He also ranked second with 383 attempts and 22 touchdowns.
• Following the season, Safron was named honorable mention all-Big Sky. His efforts also placed him on the College Football Performance Awards watch list as one of the top quarterbacks in the FCS heading into the 2013 season.
• The Santa Monica, Calif., native was twice named the Big Sky ROOT Sports Offensive Player of the Week. His first honor came after he guided the team to a win at Colorado. Against the Buffaloes, he was 25-of-37 for 317 yards and two touchdowns. He was also honored following the victory over then No. 11 Cal Poly. In that game, Safron completed 31-of-38 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
• Below is where he ranks in school history:
Career Passing Yards Total Needs
8. Bobby Fresques, 1990-92, 3,757
9. Lyle James, 1966-68, 3,397
10. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 3,237
Career Passing Touchdowns Total Needs
8. Bobby Fresques, 1990-92, 27
9. Mike Lippi, 1969-70, 26
10. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 25
Career Passing Attempts Total Needs
7. Lyle James, 1966-68, 537
8. Greg Knapp, 1982-85, 524
9. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 501
Career Passing Completions, Total
4. Tony Corbin, 1995-96, 351
5. Ricky Ray, 1999-2000, 347
6. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres., 304
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
• Since moving to the FCS in 1993, Sacramento State has had five different linebackers earn All-America honors and 22 named all-Big Sky Conference. That list could expand this season if senior Todd Davis is able to keep up the pace he's set over the last two years.
• Davis has led the team in tackles the past two seasons, tallying 96 in 2011 and 103 in 2012. Last year's total also included a team-best 13.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. That effort helped him be named second team all-Big Sky.
• The Palmdale, Calif., native has made a couple of changes in 2013. The first came when he changed his jersey number to No. 53 after wearing No. 91 the previous three years. The second will be on the field as he moves from outside linebacker to middle linebacker where he replaces the graduated Jeff Badger.
• Below is a list of where Davis ranks in school history:
Career Tackles, Total
7. Brent Webber, 2004-07, 249
8. Elton Gabourel, 1998-2001, 237
9. Camron Mbewa, 2000-03, 236
10. Todd Davis, 2010-pres., 233
Career Tackles-For-Loss, Total
9. Nick Echols, 1997-98, 23.0
10. Damien Mason, 1994-96, 21.0
James Henderson, 2003-07, 21.0
--- Todd Davis, 2010-pres., 20.0
SHARING THE BALL
• A year after becoming the only FCS team to have at 13 players catch a pass, Sacramento State again had multiple targets in the season opener at San Jose State. Safron completed his 23 passes to nine players. The group was led by Morris Norrise, Ezekiel Graham and Blake Robertson who each caught four. Robertson's total matched his career high.
• Chris Broadnax had one catch for 15 yards at Arizona State to raise that total to 10 players this year.
• The only newcomer to the group that did not catch a pass last season is Stone Sander. The true freshman from Placer HS had one catch for 12 yards at SJSU.
JUST THE FACTS
• The Hornets are minus-16 in turnover margin dating back to the start of last season. Last year, the team forced 18 fumbles but recovered only four.
• Bill Laveroni (offensive line) and Fred Kelley (tight ends/special teams) are both in their first seasons on the Hornet staff. Laveroni has coached at nearly every level of football from high school to the NFL career. Kelley is back after spending last season as the offensive line coach at Humboldt State.
• Sperbeck's 12 career road wins are tied for the third most in school history. Ray Clemons won 35 games in 15 years. Bob Mattos won 34 in 15 years and John Volek won 12 in eight years.
• Prior to being shutout at San Jose State, Sacramento State had scored in 68 straight games and at least a touchdown in 43 consecutive games.
• The 55-point margin of defeat at Arizona State is tied for the fifth largest in school history.
• The team's six first downs at ASU are tied for the third fewest in program history.
COACHES LUNCHEONS RETURN
• The Hornet Club Football Luncheons returned on Monday, Sept. 9, at Buca di Beppo on Howe and Hurley. The luncheons will feature head coach Marshall Sperbeck as well as a student-athlete and will take place from 12 -1 p.m.
• The luncheons will take place each Monday throughout the season. For $12 patrons will receive salad, entree, bread, desert and drink.
BIG SKY NOTES
• The Big Sky/ROOT Sports Players of the Week were:
Offense: Kieran McDonagh, QB, Portland State
Threw for 308 and rushed for 60 in near upset of California.
Defense: Matt Holley, LB, Southern Utah
Recorded three TFLs, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and scored a TD in 49-0 win over Fort Lewis.
ST: Brendon Garcia, K, Idaho State
Made field goals of 27, 40, 33 and 24 yards and also converted four extra points in ISU victory.