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A BRIEF PREVIEW
After facing a first-year FCS program in its opening game and a Pac-12 foe in its second, the Sacramento State football team will finally see a familiar face when it hosts Weber State on Saturday, Sept. 13, at Hornet Stadium (6:05 p.m.). While the Wildcats are a longtime member of the Big Sky Conference, this week's game will not count towards the league standings for either team.
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 also be broadcast on the internet via BigSky.tv. The service is free of charge but fans need to register prior to kickoff. Fans can also download the BigSky.tv app to view the games on their iOS devices.
Sacramento State enters the game with a 1-1 record after a pair of games that were nearly statistical opposites of one another. The Hornets dominated play at Incarnate Word in their season opener before being stopped by Cal last weekend in Berkeley. The Golden Bears scored on their first seven possessions of the game and led 45-7 at the half en route to a 55-14 victory.
Weber State opened the year at Arizona State with a 45-14 loss before dropping a 24-7 decision to No. 1 North Dakota State in its home opener last weekend. Sophomore Billy Green has taken over at quarterback for the Wildcats after transferring from BYU over the summer. Green has completed 40-of-72 passes for 396 yards and a touchdown without an interception. WSU has also taken advantage of a couple of long touchdown runs in the opening weeks. Zach Smith had a 60-yard TD run at ASU and Eric Wilkes went 27 yards for the only score against NDSU.
Jody Sears is in his first season as the head coach at Sacramento State. Sears was previously the head coach at Weber State from 2012-13 and has been the defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington and Washington State.
Weber State is coached by Jay Hill who was hired in December of 2013. Hill, 38, spent the last 13 years as an assistant at Utah — including the last nine as a full-time assistant. During that time he worked for Ron McBride, Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham. He was the Utes' special teams coordinator each of his full time seasons and also coached on both sides of the ball.
The teams have met yearly since 1996 with the Wildcats holding an 11-7 edge. After Weber State won the first four meetings, the teams have split the past 14 contests. Sacramento State has won three of the last four, including 31-3 last season in Ogden, Utah. That victory was the Hornets' first at Stewart Stadium.
• Sacramento State has won its last four home openers and is 15-5-1 during the FCS era.
• With a victory, Jody Sears will join John Baker (1957) and Mike Clemons (1993) as the only coaches in Hornet history to begin their career 2-1.
SANKEY AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS
• A week after being named the ROOT SPORTS Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week, Darnell Sankey led the team with 14 tackles at Cal. Sankey recorded eight solo stops and six assists en route to his career high. His total of 24 tackles this season (12.0 per game) ties him for 14th in the FCS.
• The junior has also forced a fumble in both games this season and is tied for third nationally with 1.00 forced fumbles per game.
• Sankey is the latest in a long list of Hornet linebackers who have had national success. Most recently, Todd Davis was an All-American at the position last season and finished fifth with 10.9 tackles per game. Ryland Wickman, Anthony Daisley, Matt Logue, Cyrus Mulitalo and Mike Brannon also earned All-America recognition at the position.
• Last season, Sankey ranked third on the team with 65 total tackles and led the squad with 9.5 TFLs and six sacks.
• Sankey was the FCS Defensive Player of the Week after having 10 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery at Weber State — a team which was coached by Jody Sears.
• Sankey was originally a linebacker for the Hornets out of high school but shifted to defensive end during his freshman year.
• Robbie Kendall joined Sankey in double figures and also set his career high with 11 tackles against Cal. Kendall was credited with six solo tackles and five assists to better his previous high total of seven at San Jose State last season.
• Kendall came to the Hornets from Butte JC and earned the starting safety job to open 2013. However, a neck injury forced him to miss the final 11 games of the year and left his football future in doubt. Kendall received medical clearance to return to the field and now ranks second on the squad with 14 tackles.
BIG TIME BROADNAX
• Senior tight end Chris Broadnax has shined in the spotlight. Broadnax scored his first career touchdown on a 35-yard pass in the team's upset victory at Colorado in 2012. During that game, he also set a career best with 92 receiving yards on five receptions.
This past week, Broadnax hauled in the team's lone touchdown reception with a 3-yard catch in the second quarter. He was also targeted in the end zone during the third quarter but the pass was intercepted.
WHAT'S HIS RANGE?
• A lot of questions surrounding the Hornets have been answered through two games. One that's still remaining is the range of kicker Brad Cornish. The junior has attempted only one field goal this season but saw his 56-yarder blocked at the line. That attempt, which would have set the school record, was in far contrast to his 2012 effort where his long was 25 yards on his three makes.
• Despite not converting a field goal in 2014, Cornish still ranks third on the team with nine points as he's converted all nine of his PAT attempts. He is now 21-for-21 for his career on PATs.
ALL GOOD THINGS...
• Sacramento State saw its streak of 31 consecutive games with at least one sack come to a close when it was unable to get to any of the Cal quarterbacks in the game on Sept. 6.
• The last time the Hornets were unable to get to the quarterback came in the team's 42-28 win over Montana on Sept. 24, 2011.
CARTER CLIMBS THE CHARTS
• Senior DeAndre Carter was the lone member of the Hornets to earn preseason all-Big Sky honors in a vote of the league's media. Carter was also a preseason All-American by several publications.
• Last season, the Fremont, Calif., native exploded for 934 yards and a school-record tying 14 receiving touchdowns in 11 games. He missed the final game of the after spraining his ankle at Portland State.
• He returned to the end zone twice at Incarnate Word to move into sole possession of second place on the Sacramento State career list. Carter's first TD came on a 33-yard pass up the middle of the field. His second was a 24-yard grab in the front right corner of the end zone where he had to out muscle the defender.
• Carter has caught a touchdown in nine of his last 11 games and finished 2013 tied for fourth in the FCS with 14.
• Carter did not catch a touchdown pass as a freshman in 2011 where he had 11 receptions for 161 yards. As a sophomore, he got off to a great start, scoring touchdowns in each of the first four games. However, he did not find the end zone for the remainder of the season, finishing with 32 catches for 344 yards.
Career Receiving Yards Total Needs
T3. Mike Carter, 1968-69 1,834 267
T3. Lamont Webb, 1997-2000 1,834 267
5. Tony Washington, 2007-08 1,693 126
6. Scott Towne, 19997-2000 1,646 79
7. DeAndre Carter, 2011-pres. 1,567 ---
Career Receiving Touchdowns Total Needs
1. Fred Amey, 2001-04 27 7
2. DeAndre Carter, 2011-pres. 20 ---
SAFRON HONORS CONTINUE
• After earning second team all-Big Sky honors last season, senior Garrett Safron found himself on nearly every preseason watch list and all-conference team heading into 2014. Safron also served as the team's representative for the Big Sky Kickoff media event in Park City, Utah during July.
• Last season, Safron rewrote the school single season record book with 294 completions, 460 attempts, 3,289 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns. He also rushed for a team best 492 yards and seven touchdowns and set the single season mark with 3,781 yard of total offense. Following the year, he was named the team's offensive MVP and became the first Hornet QB to be named first or second team all-Big Sky.
• Safron lived up to the preseason hype as he completed 17-of-25 passes for 251 yards and five touchdowns with an interception at UIW. He has now thrown four or more touchdowns in three of the last five games and has six career 4+ TD games.
• Last year, Safron had three of the most memorable single game efforts as he threw a Big Sky record seven touchdowns against Southern Oregon. Midway through the year he completed 41 passes against Montana to take down the school mark and later added a 554-yard effort at Portland State to also set the Hornet record.
• The performance at Portland State helped the team to a 43-42 victory and was his fourth 300-yard game of the year. His seven career 300-yard games has him tied with Ryan Leadingham for the most in Sacramento State history.
• The Santa Monica, Calif., native has started every game over the past two seasons and is now either first or second in every career passing record at Sacramento State.
• Below is where he ranks in school history:
Career Passing Yards Total Needs
1. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04 8,376 1,753
2. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres. 6,623 ---
Career Passing Touchdowns Total Needs
1. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres. 58 ---
2. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04 50 ---
Career Passing Attempts Total Needs
1. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04 1,191 233
2. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres. 958 ---
Career Passing Completions Total Needs
1. Ryan Leadingham, 2001-04 658 62
2. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres. 596 ---
HE'S GOING THE DISTANCE
• Safron has also proved effective with his legs in the early season. His 73-yard touchdown run at Cal was a career long and the longest by a Hornet since Ryan Mole went 87 yards against Montana State in 2004.
• Over his four years, Safron has now rushed for 1,225 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those marks have helped him set nearly all the quarterback rushing marks at Sacramento State. Below is where he ranks on the overall career list:
Career Rushing Yards Total Needs
12. John Scorza, 1967-68 1,357 132
13. Ed Bueno, 1988-89 1,259 34
14. Ezekiel Graham, 2012-13 1,234 9
15. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres. 1,225 ---
Career Rushing Touchdowns Total Needs
T6. Tyronne Gross, 2002-04 16 3
T6. Garrett White, 1998-2002 16 3
T8. Ricky Ray (QB), 1999-2000 15 2
T8. John Scorza, 1967-68 15 2
10. Lyle James (QB), 1966-68 14 1
11. Garrett Safron, 2011-pres. 13 ---
SEASON OF FIRSTS
• Though just two games into the year, Sacramento State has seen a lot of career milestones from its receivers:
• Junior Nnamdi Agude caught his first career touchdown at Incarnate Word. He added his second in the same game while also recording a career high 111 receiving yards.
• Senior Joey DePalma caught two passes at Incarnate Word after not having a reception last season.
• Junior Dominic Coulter, a transfer from Nevada, caught his first pass at the college level when he had two grabs at Incarnate Word.
• True freshman Isiah Hennie had a 14-yard reception for a first down at Cal marking his first catch in college.
A LONG TIME COMING
• When Anthony and Nick Payne stepped on the field at Incarnate Word it marked the first time that the twin brothers have played together since their senior year at Mira Mesa High School in 2010.
Both committed to Sacramento State in the spring of 2011. Nick redshirted that fall while Anthony did not enroll until the spring semester. In 2012, Nick appeared in nine games at cornerback and Anthony redshirted. The tables were turned a year ago when Anthony played in 11 games and Nick was forced to miss the year due to an injury.
The pair established themselves as probable starters during this summer but they nearly were not able to play together when Anthony dislocated his pinky finger during the final scrimmage. The bone broke through the skin and required a trip to the emergency room and a protective cast to play at UIW.
• Sacramento State has put its depth and versatility on display in the first two games as 29 Hornet players have made at least one tackle.
• In the season opener at Incarnate Word, 24 different players had at least a stop including a trio of true freshmen (Joey Banks, Austin Clark and Tyler Meteer), who combined for 13 stops.
• In all, 28 of the team's 64 tackles in the game against UIW were recorded by players who are either true freshmen or redshirted last season.
• At Cal, 23 players had tackles, including Sankey and Kendall who finished in double digits. The top five tacklers against the Golden Bears were all seniors or returning starters from a year ago.
• One player who found himself near the top of the list but on the opposite side of the ball was running back De'Jon Coleman who made four stops on special teams.
IT STILL COUNTS
• For the third consecutive season, Sacramento State will face a Big Sky Conference team in a non-conference game. The Hornets are 1-1 in the previous two outings with a 28-17 win against Northern Colorado in 2012 and a 24-21 heart breaking overtime loss to Southern Utah last season.
• When the Big Sky expanded to 13 teams prior to the 2012 season, it left San Diego as the only FCS team outside of the Big Sky west of the Rockies that is not in the conference.
• Along with this game, Cal Poly will play at Portland State in a non-league tilt on Sept. 20.
A DIFFERENT VIEW
• Hornet head coach Jody Sears will face his former team for the first time on Saturday. Sears was the head coach at Weber State during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Along with Sears, Director of Operations Ryan Smaha and offensive assistant James Montgomery were also on the Wildcat staff.
• Weber State's roster features nine players who are California natives. Included among that list is cornerback Taron Johnson who graduated from Sheldon HS.
FOUR CAPTAINS NAMED
• Linebacker Henry Fernandez, defensive end Jaycee Totty, quarterback Garrett Safron and wide receiver DeAndre Carter were named captains in a vote by the team prior to the season. The four will serve as captains for each game this year. All four captains are seniors and, with the exception of Totty, are in their fifth year with the program.
COACHES LUNCHEONS RETURN
• Each Monday throughout the season the public is invited to the Field House American Sports Pub. Head coach Jody Sears and selected players will speak to the audience. Highlights from the previous game and a look at the upcoming opponent will also be provided. Cost is $12 and includes your choice from a selected menu, drink, tax and gratuity. The luncheons will begin at noon each Monday but will not be held on Oct. 6 (Mattos Golf Tournament), Oct. 27 (bye week) or Nov. 17 (Causeway Classic luncheon week).
SHARING THE ROCK
• Three players have 12 or more carries and four have at least seven for Sacramento State during the first two games. The group is led by sophomore Jordan Robinson who leads the team with 22 attempts for 116 yards. Robinson has also caught three passes, including a touchdown.
• Safron ranks second on the team with 18 rushes for 70 yards. Demetrius Warren is third with 12 attempts for 17 net years and De'Jon Coleman has added seven carries for 23.
• Eight players have at least one rush this year, including Sankey who picked up a first down with a 2-yard rush on his first career carry.
JUST THE FACTS
• Jody Sears became just the third Sacramento State head coach to win his first career game with the Hornets.
Incarnate Word Game
• The team's 49 points at Incarnate Word were the most in a season opener in school history. The previous mark was 48 against Chico State in 1988.
• The 46 point margin of victory over Incarnate Word was the largest since a 69-19 win over Saint Mary's on Sept. 6, 2003.
• The win at UIW was the team's first in their yellow jerseys.
• Nnamdi Agude became the 46th player to have a 100-yard receiving game in school history.
• Garrett Steele blocked a punt and also recovered a loose kickoff to set up a pair of touchdowns.
• The 28 first quarter points scored by the Golden Bears were the most by an opponent in school history.
• Safron's 73-yard touchdown run was the longest rush by a Hornet since 2004.