There is a constant struggle in modern sports between the so-called stat geeks and the old-school sportsmen, who put more stock in what they see than in numbers on a page.
In baseball, some statistics can show an 8-12 pitcher is better than a 20-game winner. In basketball, efficiency rankings can put a backup power forward ahead of Kobe Bryant on certain lists.
When it comes to football, UC Davis (2-3) is hoping observers look deeper into Saturday’s victory, rather than pointing to the fact that it came over a winless Weber State squad. To do this, one will need to consult a stat geek and check what was seen by the naked eye.
First, a deeper look at the stats:
Weber State’s 0-5 record is not exactly what it appears. The Wildcats’ schedule saw them open with a respectable 37-10 loss at Fresno State, a Football Bowl Subdivision team that is now 3-2. Next up was a short trip to Provo, Utah, where BYU defeated its in-state rival, 45-10. The Cougars are now 3-2.
The next two games, though against Football Championship Subdivision opponents, were not much of a reprieve for Weber State. After a 35-21 loss to McNeese State, which is now 4-1 and ranked 21st in The Sports Network’s FCS Top 25, the Wildcats nearly knocked off No. 7 Eastern Washington (3-1), falling 32-26.
When that same squad came into Aggie Stadium on Saturday, the locals jumped out to a 31-6 lead. The eventual margin of victory, 37-13, was higher than in either of Weber State’s games against the ranked FCS squads.
What separated UCD? For that, we go to the eye test: The Aggie defense looked very tough, while the offense was balanced and effective.
“Defense has been good all year,” said UCD quarterback Randy Wright. “We finally put some guys together on offense and only turned the ball over once.”
About those turnovers …
In going 1-3 to start the season, the Aggies were minus-two in turnover margin. On Saturday, UCD not only won the turnover battle, but did it by so much that it flip-flopped the season total. After picking off three passes, recovering two fumbles and throwing just one pick, the Aggie are now at plus-two.
“We had two or three interceptions and a couple of fumble recoveries,” said UCD head coach Bob Biggs. “It was a great effort on the (defense’s) part. I know they were disappointed that they allowed (Weber State) into the end zone a couple of times. But it was a great effort.”
Byron Gruendl came down with two of the interceptions, while Frederick Rice added the other pick. Marques Barron and Anthony Kaspar scooped up the Weber State fumbles.
Notes: With classes starting last week, the Aggies were inspired by the 7,569 fans in the stands. ”We came down (to the field) and looked across and saw the stands filled with all the students. That really ignited (the players) and got them excited. The bottom line is it’s a game, you’re playing for yourself, but you’re also playing for the student body and when you see that kind of support, it really makes you want to play well,” Biggs said. … With Biggs in his final season as UCD head man, the search for a replacement is in the beginning stages. The school has assembled a committee to advise new athletic director Terry Tumey. It is made up of Jeff Weidner, a professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior, and the director of the Physical Education Program who also serves as UCD’s interim faculty athletics representative to the NCAA; Steve Currall, dean of the Graduate School of Management; and student-athlete Bobby Erskine, a senior defensive end who also serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Erskine’s playing career is over after he suffered a season-ending injury at San Jose State in Week 2. Tumey hopes to be able to narrow the list of candidates to three or four by the end of this month, and name the new coach by late November.
— Reach Chris Saur at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8049.