Friday, March 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Is Big Sky taking over as the giant-killing conference?

Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams Jr. vaults over Oregon State's Jabral Johnson in his team's 49-46 upset of the Beavers on Saturday. AP photo

By
From page B1 | September 05, 2013 |

After one conference member put a Beaver pelt on the cabin wall, five other Big Sky schools — including UC Davis at Nevada — try to do a little taxidermy of their own this week.

Sacramento State is at Arizona State Thursday night then the Aggies, Weber State (at Utah), Cal Poly (at Fresno State) and Montana State (at SMU) take a swing at adding to the growing belt notches of Football Championship Subdivision teams this weekend.

When Eastern Washington nailed then-No. 25 Oregon State, 49-46, last Saturday, it marked only the fourth time an FCS squad had toppled a ranked Football Bowl Subdivision team.

It was also the second Big Sky win over an FBS school that week, thanks to Southern Utah clearing the bar against Sun Belt Conference entry Southern Alabama, 22-21.

But it was the Eagles’ triumph over that Pac-12 opponent that caught the attention of the Big Sky media during the league’s regular conference call with member coaches.

Does the Eastern Washington upset impact other circuit schools in preparing for, and playing against, the next level?

“Not much,” Portland State’s Nigel Burton reported. “Unless Eastern Washington is going to come play a half for us, it doesn’t do anything.”

While most coaches weighing in Wednesday agreed that FCS wins over FBS schools will shine a brighter light on teams in conferences like the Big Sky, they know it remains a tough row to hoe when moving “up.”

“(Playing Nevada) helps us (judge) where we’re at and where we’re going,” first-year Aggie coach Ron Gould explained, adding about the recruiting: “Kids want to play at the highest levels. It does help us when you can say that you’re playing those kind of (FBS) teams.”

But when schools from the two subdivisions kick it off, it remains a test of who has the horses.

Interestingly, Burton thinks that gap is getting smaller, not wider.

Listen to Burton …

“The talent level is different now. Mainly I would blame the Internet. Seriously. When (I was) coming out of college, the only way you got recruited was a coach had to come to your campus, pick up film … it was a process. Most scholarship offers came in December and January when coaches could get out.

“Now it’s get the film, download … and send to every coach in the country with a keystroke.”

Burton recruits from Australia, Alaska, New Jersey and Florida — all from the comfort of his Viking office armchair. He says the top-shelf schools (who can afford the travel to reach out) “can’t really hoard (the talent) like they did in the past.”

To wit, six other FCS teams knocked off FBS squads in Week 1, most notably North Dakota State — UCD’s former Great West rival — beating Kansas State (24-21), Towson spanking UConn (33-18) and Northern Iowa upending Iowa State (28-20).

As much fun as it is for the lower-division coaches to soak in the sunshine and chat about last week, Eastern Washington’s Beau Baldwin cautioned his brethren:

“It’s about dealing with the (hype) … and moving on at the same time. Does (the spotlight) get tiring? A little, but I understand it. If you’re complaining about being tired because (of talking about the win over Oregon State), then you’ve got issues.”

Baldwin added, “The way I look at it, I’d rather be tired (of the spotlight) every time.”

As energizing as the Big Sky’s first full week of results was, last weekend needs to be filed away. Teams like the Aggies are still searching out their identities.

“Our thing here is trying to focus on what we do and not get caught up in anyone else,” Gould said of the conference-wide celebration of knocking off perceived giants. “It’s great to see some of the FCS schools beat FBS schools. But we just want to focus on getting better. If we do that, we’ll be OK.”

UCD’s task at Nevada on Saturday (6:05 p.m.) is a tall one. The Wolf Pack (0-1) is coming off of a 58-20 manhandling by UCLA.

The Aggies (0-1), brilliant on defense, couldn’t overcome errors on the other side of the ball and lost 10-7 at South Dakota.

“We just didn’t do a very good job of executing,” Gould, a former Cal assistant told the media. “It’s something we’re working on in practice.

“I was very please with how (our defense) was able to keep us in the game.”

Even with the outstanding effort last Saturday, the UCD defenders are going to be asked to ratchet up the intensity.

“Offensively, they have been a force to be reckoned with,” Gould said of Nevada. “They’ve always been able to run the ball.”

To play solid defense against the Wolf Pack pistol ground game, “you have to be very, very disciplined … carry out assignments … watch the play-action,” Gould explains. “Follow the scheme. (Bring) a tremendous amount of focus; a tremendous amount of discipline.”

Notes: While Gould hasn’t tipped his hand about a starting quarterback (Randy Wright or Jimmy Laughrea) for Saturday, he has said his chosen quartet of running backs are ready to be thrown to the Wolves, so to speak. Featured backs Gabe Manzanares and Tavior Mowry, fullback Dalton Turay and Manu Luuga (hamstring) are ready to roll, says the coach. Manzanares’ Aggie debut was a good one: 91 yards rushing and the lone touchdown. … From the Where’s Turay Dept.? The All-Big Sky preseason first-team choice didn’t touch the ball Saturday, despite two Aggie drives inside the 5-yard line. Gould says Turay (he of the seven TDs last year) has a different role. “Primarily, he’s going to be a guy that will block for us,” comes word from the first-year UCD coach. “He’ll get the ball, just not as prominent (in the offense).” … Nevada leads the season series, 27-21-3. It began in 1915 with a 14-10 Aggie win. The last time the two schools met, UCD won, 24-17, at Reno in 1989. … Oh, the other FCS victories over ranked FBS teams? James Madison over No. 13 Virginia Tech 21-16 (2010), Appalachian State over No. 5 Michigan, 34-31 (2007) and I-AA Cincinnati over No. 20 Penn State, 14-3 (1983), before the new designations were created.

—Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.

Comments

comments

Bruce Gallaudet

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Anti-gay initiative puts AG in a bind

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    County supervisors consider options for historic courthouse

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Two found dead of apparent shooting in West Davis home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    New Paso Fino design trims lots

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Co-pilot may have hidden illness, German prosecutors say

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Senate’s Harry Reid announces he won’t seek re-election

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Woodland police warn of kidnapping phone scam

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Lawyer disputes police’s hoax claim in California kidnapping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Davis Flower Arrangers meet Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Sign up for Camp Shakespeare

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Empower Yolo offers peer counselor training

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    State loosens sex offender residency restrictions

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Sing along on April Fool’s Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Three nabbed in counterfeiting probe

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A6

    .

    Forum

    Can he get life back on track?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Blame Reid for impasse

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

     
    Practice cancer prevention each day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Turnabout is fair play

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

     
    Be aware and be afraid

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    UCD men edge Hawaii on the court

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    UCD’s Hawkins, Harris to shoot at Final Four

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Home sweet home: Aggie women win a tennis match

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Devil boys grind out a net win at Franklin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    DHS baseballers fall to Vintage in eight innings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    DYSA roundup: Recent youth softball games feature big hitting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Sacramento get its second straight win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Sharks get a key win over Detroit

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    UCD Student Fashion Association presents charity fashion show

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    ‘Get Hard’ comes across as rather limp

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Smokey Brights to perform at Sophia’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    ‘Deserted Destinations’ is April exhibit at Gallery 625

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Monticello announces April live-music shows

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Leonardo Tuchman’s work shows at UC Davis Craft Center Gallery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    Sacramento Youth Symphony holding open auditions

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    Preview Art Studio Tour participants’ work at The Artery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Camry Hybrid takes a step forward

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Celebrate Rusty Jordan’s Life

    By Creator | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, March 27, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B4