FOOTBALL BEGINS BIG SKY PLAY AGAINST NORTH DAKOTA ON SATURDAY NIGHT
A BRIEF PREVIEW
The Sacramento State football team has matched its best start since 1992 but will now turn its attention to Big Sky Conference play as it hosts North Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Hornet Stadium. The game, which will be the first conference game for both teams, will kick off at 6:05 p.m.
There will be multiple ways to follow this week’s game. Hornet fans can tune in to Classic 93.1 FM and KAHI 950 AM in the foothills 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.
The game will not be televised but can be seen online via bigskytv.org. The broadcasts are free to watch but fans must create a username and password prior to the start of the game.
Not only will this be the conference opener for both teams, it will be the first Big Sky game played by North Dakota in school history. UND, along with Southern Utah, officially joined the conference in July. UC Davis and Southern Utah are also debuting as associate members in football. Sacramento State went 0-8 in its first Big Sky season (1996). The Hornets were victorious in their first conference game against Northern Colorado in 2006.
Both teams enter with a 2-1 overall record and are ranked among the top 20 in passing in the Football Championship Subdivision. Sacramento State is ranked 20th with 267.3 passing yards per game while UND is third at 337.0.
The Hornets most recently defeated Northern Colorado, 28-17, in a non-conference game. The team has also lost at New Mexico State and defeated Colorado — both of the FBS.
North Dakota began its season with a 66-0 win over Div. II South Dakota Mines. The team was also victorious over Portland State (non-league) before falling at San Diego State, 49-41, this past Saturday. UND has been led by wide receiver Greg Hardin who has averaged 145.0 yards and scored seven touchdowns through the first three games of the year.
Marshall Sperbeck is in his sixth season as the head coach at Sacramento State. During that span, Sperbeck has produced a 26-33 overall record. For a complete bio, please see page 2.
North Dakota is coached by Chris Mussman who is in his fifth season. Mussman has posted a 25-21 record during his tenure.
This will be the second meeting all-time between the two schools. North Dakota claimed the first game with a 31-0 win in Grand Forks, N.D. in 1979.
• Sacramento State will be looking to open the season 3-1 for just the first time since 1999.
• Hornet Director of Athletics Terry Wanless served in the same capacity at North Dakota from 1990-99. While at UND, the school won four NCAA championships.
• The Hornets are 3-13 in Big Sky openers but 4-4 when the game is at Hornet Stadium.
POW: ODIASE EARNS BIG SKY HONOR
• Junior Osagie Odiase was named the Big Sky ROOT SPORTS Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. The honor was the first for Odiase during his career.
• Against Northern Colorado, the Santa Fe Springs, Calif., native had a career-high 11 tackles, including one for loss and also played a part in two of the team’s four turnovers. His fumble recovery during the Bears’ first drive immediately led to a 40-yard touchdown pass which gave team a 7-0 lead. Odiase also intercepted a pass in the third quarter at the Hornets’ 3-yard line.
• A three-year starter, Odiase now has 104 career tackles with five interceptions. He is the only active player on the team with more than one career interception.
• Following the victory at Colorado, quarterback Garrett Safron was named the Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Week and kicker Edgar Castaneda shared the special teams award.
BACK TO NORMAL
• Through three games, the Sacramento State tackle leaders look exactly as they did at the end of 2011. Linebacker Todd Davis took over the team lead after the NC game and now has 26 stops on the year. Safety Ryan McMahon ranks second with 24 total stops.
• The top three spots are nearly identical to a year ago with the exception of safety Robert Beale ranking third with 22 stops and linebacker Jeff Badger fourth with 21.
• Last season, Davis led the team with 96 total tackles en route to earning all-Big Sky honors. He has continued his consistency in 2012, with at least seven tackles in all three games.
• The junior is closing in to placing him name among the top 20 in career history. He currently has 143 stops which is 24 shy of 20th place.
• McMahon tallied 85 stops in 2011 — his first year at Sacramento State after transferring from USC. This year, he opened with five tackles at New Mexico State but has recorded 19 tackles over the last two games.
• McMahon also recorded his first collegiate interception against Northern Colorado as the senior sealed the game with an interception in the end zone with 2:45 to play.
• Badger ranked third a year ago with 85 total tackles. During 2012, he has had at least four tackles in each game. His career total of 148 is the most on the team as are his 14.5 career tackles-for-loss and 77 unassisted tackles.
• It had been over a year, 22 months to be exact, but Morris Norrise found his way back to the end zone. Norrise, who now has nine career touchdown receptions, ran a post pattern on the Hornets’ first offensive play and scored a 40-yard touchdown.
• During an impressive freshman season, Norrise scored eight touchdowns, including seven during a five-game span. Last season, he led the team with 38 receptions and ranked second with 471 yards but did not score a touchdown.
• Norrise has been the most productive Hornet receiver in 2012, catching 18 passes for 254 yards. His average of 6.00 receptions per game places him tied for 35th in the FCS while his 84.67 yards per game are tied for 23rd.
BRING THE BOOM
• Junior Justin Weldon was summoned off the bench in the first half against Northern Colorado to take over the punting duties and responded by averaging 52.8 yards on four punts. Among Weldon’s total was a 68-yarder in the fourth quarter which ranks as the fifth longest in school history and the farthest since Steve Thorns’ 71-yarder in 1997.
• Weldon, who transferred from Fresno City JC, also placed two of his four punts inside the 20-yard line.
• The Hornet offensive line continued to do a great job keeping pressure off quarterback Garrett Safron, as Northern Colorado was unable to record a sack. Through three games this year, the team has allowed just three sacks which is tied for 20th best in the FCS.
• The only true sack surrendered by the line came in the early going at Colorado. The other two were charged to the team despite the fact that Safron was not tackled.
• The first came at New Mexico State where the ball fell out of Safron’s hand while attempting a pass. The ball was recovered by the Aggies resulting in a sack and fumble.
• At Colorado, Safron was called for intentional grounding which is also credited as a sack.
• The Hornets have played just six offensive linemen all year. Vince Weaver (left guard), Devonte Martin (left tackle), Clay DePauw (center) and Tyler Worthley (right guard) have started both games. At right tackle, sophomore Lars Hanson started at NMSU and redshirt freshman Aleksandar Milanovic earned the start at Colorado.
QUICK DOUBLE UP
• Its taken sophomore DeAndre Carter just three games to eclipse his numbers from a year ago where the San Jose, Calif., native caught 12 passes for 161 yards.
• This year, Carter ranks second on the team with 12 receptions and 179 but leads the Hornets with three touchdown receptions.
• Carter has had one TD in each game, making him the first Hornet to catch a touchdown pass in three straight games since Brandyn Reed did it in the final four games of 2009.
• There are only five other players in the FCS to catch a touchdown in each of their team’s first three games in 2012. One of those players is North Dakota’s Greg Hardin who has seven TDs.
• Carter has also been the team’s primary punt and kick returner. His average of 9.33 yards per punt return is tied for 23rd in the FCS and places him 11th among players without a return TD and at least five attempts.
• Like Carter, Garrett Safron has also doubled his statistical output from a year ago. Safron played in five games, starting three, as a redshirt freshman where he was 24-of-57 for 394 yards and three touchdowns.
• This year, the Santa Monica, Calif., native has already passed for 802 yards, going 64-of-102 with six touchdowns.
• Safron has thrown two touchdowns in each of the first three games becoming the first Hornet QB to achieve that feat since Jason Smith in 2008.
• Safron opened the year with back-to-back 300-yard games, including a career high 312 in the win at Colorado. That performance allowed him to earn co-Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors.
LET’S GO STREAKING
• Sacramento State is 2-1 without a victory over a non-Div. I team for the first time since 2001.
• Saturday’s game marked just the second win for the Hornets in 12 games under Sperbeck in which the opponents scored a defensive or special teams touchdown.
• Sacramento State has won the coin toss in all three games this year.
• The Colorado game was second Hornet victory when trailing entering the fourth quarter under Sperbeck.
COACHES LUNCHEONS RETURN
• The Hornet Club Football Luncheons will return on Monday, Sept. 10, 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 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
• The luncheons will take place each Monday throughout the season with the exception of Sept. 17 which is the date of the Bob Mattos Memorial Golf Tournament.
• For $10 patrons will receive salad, entree, bread, desert and drink.