FOOTBALL LOOKS TO EVEN BIG SKY RECORD AT IDAHO STATE ON SATURDAY
A BRIEF PREVIEW
The Sacramento State football team will return to the road this week as it travels to Pocatello, Idaho, to take on Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 12:35 p.m. PDT.
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.
Sacramento State (2-2, 0-1 Big Sky) is coming off a disappointing 35-13 loss to North Dakota in its Big Sky opener. Against UND, the Hornets had three turnovers (including two in the red zone) and was also stopped twice on fourth down. Among the positives in the game was the performance of junior Ezekiel Graham who recorded his first career 100-yard performance, rushing for 140 yards on 15 carries.
The Hornet defense also did its part against North Dakota’s highly-touted passing attack, limiting UND to just 147 aerial yards. Sacramento State also held receiver Greg Hardin to three catches for 22 yards without a touchdown. Hardin entered the game leading the FCS in total receiving yards and had an FCS best seven touchdowns in the first three games.
The defense will be tested again through the air this week as Idaho State (1-2, 0-0) is averaging 355.3 passing yards per game and has attempted 164 passes in three games. The Bengals are coming off a tough 73-7 loss at Nebraska. The team’s lone victory came against NCAA Div. II Black Hills State while its other loss came at Air Force.
All-American receiver Rodrick Rumble returned to action for the first time this year against Nebraska and caught six passes. Derek Graves has been QB Kevin Yost’s favorite target through the early part of the season with 33 receptions for 281 yards.
Defensively, the Bengals have allowed 465.7 yards and 42.3 points per game.
Marshall Sperbeck is in his sixth season as the head coach at Sacramento State. During that span, Sperbeck has produced a 26-34 overall record. For a complete bio, please see page 2.
Idaho State is coached by Mike Kramer who is in his second season. Kramer has posted a 3-11 record during his tenure at ISU. He is 80-83 as a Big Sky coach with stints at Eastern Washington and Montana State.
Sacramento State leads the all-time series, 10-6, and has won the past three meetings. However, in Pocatello, ISU holds a 5-3 edge and has won four of the last six games at Holt Arena.
• Junior college transfer did not need much time to record his first career 100-yard rushing game at Sacramento State. Graham picked up 81 yards on five carries in the first quarter and surpassed the century mark in the second quarter before finishing the half with 116 yards.
• As Sacramento State fell behind North Dakota, Graham’s second-half carries were minimized. However, he finished the game with 140 yards, averaging 9.3 yards per carry.
• The Carson, Calif., native’s performance ties him for 73rd best in school history. Among the 32 Hornets who have rushed for 100 yards in a game, his effort is tied for the 11th best in each person’s initial 100-yard game.
• Graham currently leads the team with 348 rushing yards and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Last season at LA Southwest JC, he earned All-America honors after leading the state with 2,227 all-purpose yards.
• Graham prepped at Carson HS where he was a teammate of current wide receiver Austin Dotson.
TWICE IS NICE
• Through each of the four games this season, Sacramento State has thrown for exactly two touchdown passes. In the first three games it was sophomore Garrett Safron who accounted for each of those TD passes. This past week against North Dakota, Safron struck first but junior Mason Magleby provided the second.
• Magleby came on for the final series of the game and completed 6-of-7 passes for 74 yards. He capped the drive with a 10-yard pass which deflected off the hands of Austin Dotson and was grabbed by Shane Harrison in the end zone. The touchdown was the first for both as a Hornet.
• Magleby transferred to Sacramento State after spending three years (one redshirt) at Nevada. Including his statistics from last season with the Wolf Pack, Magleby has completed 16-of-18 passes for 182 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.
• A standout in both baseball and football at Del Oro HS, Magleby missed the majority of training camp this summer with a back injury. He returned to practice during the opening week of the season and has served as the team’s holder in each game.
ROAD SWEET ROAD
• One player who might be looking forward to the Hornets playing three of their next four games on the road is Garrett Safron. In games at Colorado and New Mexico State, Safron was able to complete 48-of-72 passes (66.7 percent) and throw for 625 yards.
• In his two home games, Safron is 35-of-63 (55.6 percent) for 340 yards.
• His touchdowns numbers have been nearly identical (4 road, 3 home) but his interceptions have picked up over the last two weeks (1 road, 3 home).
• Overall, Safron’s season statistics have far exceeded his effort from a year ago where he passed for 394 yards and three touchdowns in five games (three starts).
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE
• Through four games, there are only three players in the Football Championship Subdivision who have caught at least one touchdown pass in every game. One of those players is sophomore DeAndre Carter who hauled in an 11-yard TD against North Dakota for his fourth TD of the year.
• Carter entered last week as one of six players who had a three-game streak to begin the year, that list was cut in half leaving only Florida A&M’s Travis Harvey and Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers along with Carter. One player who had his streak stopped was North Dakota’s Greg Hardin who the Hornets limited to three catches for 22 yards.
• On the season, Carter ranks second on the team with 13 receptions for 190 yards. His catch against UND was his only grab of the game.
• Carter has also been the team’s primary kick and punt returner this year where he is averaging 9.3 yards per punt return and 22.3 yards per kick return.
• The top four tacklers against North Dakota each set career highs in the game. The quartet was led by safety Ryan McMahon who had 14. Linebacker Todd Davis added 13 while defensive backs Markell Williams and Dijon Washington contributed nine each.
• McMahon’s raised his season tally to 38, placing him one behind Davis for the team lead. The pair finished first and second on the squad a year ago with Davis making 96 tackles and McMahon adding 85.
• While McMahon and Davis are usuals at the top of the tackle chart, Williams and Washington are relative newcomers. Williams’ previous career high was five which came the week prior against Northern Colorado. Against UND, he had six solo tackles, including two for loss and also had a sack. Fourteen of his 18 tackles this season have come in the last two games.
• Washington earned his first start as a Hornet while filling in for the injured Robert Beale at safety. The transfer from Nebraska finished the game against UND with six solos stops as well.
• Davis is now within striking distance of cracking the school’s career tackle list as the junior needs just 11 more tackles in addition to his 156 to tie for 20th place. First up on the list for Davis will be linebacker Shane Scott who tallied 167 tackles from 1997-98.
SPECIAL TEAMS SHAKEUP
• Sacramento State is likely the only team in the FCS to use a combination of five kickers and punters through the first four weeks of the year.
• In the first three games, Smith Heath was the punter, Edgar Castaneda was the placekicker and Edward Ruhnke handled kickoffs.
• Against Northern Colorado, Justin Weldon was inserted at punter midway through the first half and Brad Cornish took over on kickoffs.
• With the exception of Heath, the other four players are all in their first year with the Hornets.
ADD ANOTHER TO THE LIST
• The Hornets have recorded 11.0 sacks this season through the first four games. That number places the team second in the Big Sky and 15th in the FCS.
• While the team total is impressive, the fact that 10 players have combined for the 11 sacks is more notable.
• Only senior Avery White has tallied more than one sack this season.
• Most recently, freshman defensive tackle Trevor Kelly and junior defensive back Markell Williams added their first sacks of the season.
• Others to be credited with a sack this season are Todd Davis, Osagie Odiase, Henry Fernandez, Ben Cowger, Trent Eskew, Matt Lawrence and Nathan Castro. Each of those players have 1.0 sacks.
• White (5.0) and Eskew (2.5) are the only players on the roster to have more than two career sacks.
• Last season, the Hornets set a school record by sacking Idaho State 10.0 times in the 24-9 victory. In that game, Zack Nash tied his own single-game school record with 5.0 sacks.
KEEPING THEM AWAY
• While the defense has made a habit of harassing the quarterback, the offensive line has done its job of keeping the Hornet signal callers free of harm. Through four games, the team has allowed just five sacks which ranks 36th nationally.
• Among schools who have averaged at least 35.0 pass attempts per game, Sacramento State is tied for ninth in the FCS.
• Among the five sacks allowed have been two situations where the quarterback has not been hit. 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.
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.
• For $10 patrons will receive salad, entree, bread, desert and drink.
HORNET FOOTBALL WEEKLY
• Hornet Football Weekly will air every Thursday at 7 p.m. on Comcast channel 104 and repeat on Saturdays at noon. Each week host Jason Ross will be joined by head coach Marshall Sperbeck, a player and an athletic department guest.