There weren’t a lot of surprises in UC Davis’ first three Big Sky football games this season. The Aggies knew when they agreed to enter the conference that almost every opponent would be strong, and that it would take their best effort just to keep games close.
UCD (2-4) has played well in opening 1-2 against Big Sky teams, beating Weber State (37-13) and coming within a touchdown of undefeated Cal Poly and No. 2 Montana State. The Aggies’ performance against the Bobcats — losing 48-41 last Saturday at Aggie Stadium — even caught the eye of one of the voters in The Sports Network’s Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 poll.
“My kids really like to fight, and they are going to play 60 minutes,” UCD head coach Bob Biggs told the media on the weekly Big Sky teleconference. “We have been a little frustrated by some of the close losses, but I have been happy with the way they’ve competed.”
Next up in the conference gauntlet is a struggling Idaho State team that is coming off of a 77-10 loss to Portland State, which itself had lost four straight contests heading into that game. The Aggies travel to Pocatello, Idaho on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game against the Bengals (1-4, 0-2).
“With only a couple of minutes left in the first half, it was a good ballgame and somehow, by the third quarter, that thing had flown away faster than a leaf in an east Idaho wind,” ISU coach Mike Kramer said of the loss to PSU. “We have to find a way to come back and play better at home.
“On defense we’ve struggled mightily against the run … which gives everybody the chance to drop back and pass (against us).”
With Idaho State’s defense having trouble stopping the run and the pass, a balanced offense like UCD’s should have a chance to put up big points.
The Aggies have rushed for more than 100 yards in each of their past two games, and the quartet of Marquis Nicolis (5.8 yards per carry), Dalton Turay (five touchdowns), Colton Silveria (249 rushing yards) and Davis High graduate Courtney Williams (5.4 average, two TDs) have a good chance to make it three.
And with UCD’s play-action passing game, a strong rushing attack opens things up for quarterback Randy Wright (1,191 yards, six scores) to pick up big chunks of yardage with connections to receivers Corey Galindo, Anthony Soto, Tim Benton and tight end Taylor Sloat.
“We’re going to do what we do, which is to try to stay balanced and keep (opponents) off-balance with our play-action,” Biggs said.
On defense, the Aggies will be without injured players Bobby Erskine and Kevyn Lewis, and will be missing linebacker Steven Pitts, who received a one-game suspension from the Big Sky for hitting a Montana State player with the crown of his helmet last week.
Biggs said he and his players understand the rule:
“I understand and support the rule changes. In the long run, you want to protect the players. By no means did Stephen Pitts intend to go in there and lead with the crown of his helmet but sometimes things happen instinctively.”