Estimated read time: 16-17 minutes
Weber State University vs. Sacramento State University
Saturday, September 20, 2008 * 2:05 PDT / 3:05 (MDT
Hornet Stadium * Sacramento, California
SACRAMENTO STATE UNIVERSITY "Hornets"
MARSHALL SPERBECK begins his 2nd season as head coach of the Hornets. ... Last year his team posted a 3-8 record overall and a 3-5 mark in Big Sky Conference play finishing in a tie for 6th with Portland State. ... Coming into Saturday's game Sperbeck ins now 5-9 overall, 0-1 vs. Weber State.
Weber State leads the overall series, which began back in 1996, 8-4, but the Hornets own a 4-2 advantage in Hornet Stadium. Sac State joined the Big Sky Conference in 1996 and the Wildcats won 41-31 (1996) and 27-14 (1998) in their first two visits to Sacramento but have lost the last four 7-35 (2000), 38-41 (2002), 12-31 (2004) and 21-24 (2006) two years ago under Coach Ron McBride. ... The most points scored in a game, by either team, came in the same game during the 1999 season in Ogden with the Wildcats winning 52-49. ... There has not been an overtime game played in the series.
LAST YEAR IN OGDEN: Oct. 6, 2007
On an absolutely horrible weather day in Stewart Stadium, the Wildcats held the Hornets in check and came away with a 26-7 victory before 3,342 hardy fans. The temperature was 35 degrees with a rain/snow mix falling the entire game. ... It didn't stop CAMERON HIGGINS and TIM TOONE from a big afternoon. Higgins completed 13-20 passes for 245 yards and FOUR touchdowns - all of them to TOONE who had 6 receptions for 128 yards. He caught passes of 15, 50, 18 and 22 yards. He tied the WSU school mark for most TD receptions in a game. ... The Wildcats led 26-0 going into the fourth quarter. Sac State scored with 9:05 left on a 3-yard pass from TIM BESSOLO to CROSBY WEHR. .... The only bad grade the ‘Cats had were a missed PAT and a failed two-point conversion which left them with the 26 points.. ... The win broke a four-game losing streak by the Wildcats to start the 2007 season. ... Sac State came into the game with 18 quarterback sacks in four games but the WSU offensive line did not allow a single sack in the game. ... TREVYN SMITH had 21 carries for 110 yards.
LAST TIME @SAC STATE: Oct. 7, 2006
Down 24-21 heading into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had three scoring drives stopped by the Hornets, as Sac State hung on for the 24-21 victory on a clear, warm evening in Sacramento. ... With in injury to starting quarterback Ian Pizarro, the ‘Cats went with backup Shawn Woods for the entire game. He was 15-31 for 178 yards and two touchdowns but threw FOUR INTERCEPTIONS. ... After Sac State took the opening kickoff and settled for a 32-yard field goal by JUAN GAMBOA, the Wildats marched 67 yards in just four plays with TREVYN SMITH scoring from one yard out. It was set up by a 63-yard run by MARKY FILIPE. ... The Hornets then answered with an 83-yard drive in 13 plays consuming 6:27 culminated with a nine-year run by quarterback MARCEL MARQUEZ. ... The Wildcats got a 36-yard kickoff return by BRYANT ETEUATI following that touchdown and the ‘Cats drove to the Hornet 32. On a third-and-four play, WOODS aired it out to the end zone by was intercepted by DURRELL OLIVER. ... WSU's defense held and got the ball back but WOODS was intercepted again, this time by MIKE BRANNON at the WSU 33 and six plays later RAINBOW MAUGA scored on a six-yard run giving Sac State a 17-7 lead at half. ... Sac State kicked off to start the 2nd half and the Wildcats got the ball at their own 29. On the first play WOODS was intercepted by BRENT WEBBER who returned it 10-yards to the WSU 32. MARQUEZ found GERWIN WILLIAMS on an 11-yard pass moments later making it 24-7. ... WSU came back and drove 71 yards in seven plays with WOODS finding MARCUS MAILEI on a 32-yard pass at the 5:43 mark making it 24-14. ... After a three-and-out stand, Sac State punted and ETEUATI returned it 47 yards to the Sac State 25 yard line. ... Following a three-yard loss by TREVYN SMITH on a rush, Sac State was penalized for a personal foul putting the ball on the 14. WOODS then hit FILIPE on a 14-yard swing pass and the ‘Cats were within three at 24-21. ... Neither team scored in the fourth quarter. ...Sac State's BRENT WEBBER had his second pick of the evening to end one WSU drive. Sac State forced a three-and-out on WSU's next possession. With 2:36 left the Wildcat got the ball at the Sac State 20 but a QB sack by MIKE BRANNON put WSU in a hole. They went for it on fourth-and 13. Sac State took over and ran down to 11 seconds before punting. ... WOODS hit ETEUATI on a 31-yard pass down tot he Sac State 35 as time ran out.
SCOUTING THE HORNETS
Sacramento State is off to a similar 2-1 start as the Wildcats. They have home field wins over Division II opponents Humboldt State (45-13, they are the same league as Dixie Stat) and Southern Oregon State (27-16). They lost a road game to an NCAA Division BCS school - Colorado State - 20-23 as the Rams had to kick a field goal with no time left for the win. The Hornets are led by a couple talented linebackers in CYRUS MULITALO (6-1, 245 Sr. MLB) and MIKE BRANNON (6-1, 225 Sr. SLB). ... Both players earned First Team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2007.
Mulitalo is a 2008 NCAA Division FCS Buck Buchanan Award candidate ... They are 1-2 on the team this season in total tackles. Multialo has 23 (15 unassisted), Brannon 21 (15 unassisted). Brannon is the team sack leader with three and has two forced fumbles. ... Last week, however, it was CHRISTIAN CLARK (6-3, 265 Soph. DT) who got the ink. Clark was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week.. He had six total tackles,, two quarterback sacks, forced a fumble and blocked an extra point in the win over Southern Oregon. On a second quarter quarterback sack, he also forced a fumble that his team recovered and scored on a nine-yard run the next play to take a 21-3 lead. ... Sac State comes into Saturday's game LEADING THE BIG SKY in TOTAL DEFENSE allowing just 280.00 yards per game in three outings. Weber State is second at 300.70 yards per game. ... The two teams are one-two in NET PUNTING as well. Sac State is averaging 44.0 yards per punt and just 3.8 yards per return. WSU is averaging 40.1 yards per punt and just 0.2 yards per return. ... The Hornets lead the league in SACKS with NINE (3.0 per game) in three outings.
Offensively, running back EVANDER WILKINS (5-6, 180 Soph.) is the current Big Sky RUSHING leader. Through three games he has averaged 105.7 yards per game with 317 yards on 47 carries and has scored one touchdown. He had 161 yards last week vs. Southern Oregon. He was supposed to be the back up to BRYAN HILLIARD (5-11, 215 Soph.) who was the team rushing leader in 2007 with 826 yards and seven touchdowns. Hilliard was injured in the Colorado State game and did not play vs. Southern Oregon last week. His status this week is questionable. Another injury casualty was quarterback JASON SMITH (5-11, 190 Soph.). Smith threw for 1,826 yards and 10 touchdowns last year as a freshman. He too was injured at CSU and did not play last week. His replacement, McLEOD BETHEL-THOMPSON (6-4, 220 Soph.) completed 19-32-1 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown in the Southern Oregon win. If that name sounds familiar to fans in the state of Utah it should. He was the starting quarterback for UCLA vs. BYU in last winter's Las Vegas Bowl. ... The favorite receiver has been TONY WASHINGTON (5-11, 195 Jr.) who has 20 receptions for 344 yards and two touchdowns in 2008. He is currently ranked 2nd in the Big Sky in Receiving Yards per game at 114.7. He had nine catches for 159 yards vs. Southern Oregon last week.
Like the Wildcats, Sac State also has a solid kicking game with JUAN GAMBOA (5-8, 170 Sr. K) and OSCAR DE ALBA (6-1, 200 Sr. P). ... Gamboa is 5-6 in field goals this season with a long of 43. De Alba has punted five times for a 44.00 average with a long of 53 and has dropped three inside the 20.
Sac State received 22 votes in The Sports Network Top 25 poll and eight in the FCS Coaches Poll this week.
WEBER STATE UNIVERSITY "WILDCATS"
HEAD COACH RON McBRIDE
Weber State head coach, RON McBRIDE, enters his FOURTH SEASON as head coach the Wildcats. In 2005 he guided the Wildcats to a 6-5 (.545) record overall and a 4-3 (.571) mark in Big Sky Conference play. Last year the Wildcats were 5-6 overall and 4-4 in Big Sky play.
MAC is now 17-19 at WSU (.472) and 105-82 (.561) overall in his 17th seasons as a head coach. McBRIDE picked up his 100th career coaching victory in the 23-0 shutout of Northern Colorado last October.
McBride was 88-63 in 13 seasons as the head coach at the University of Utah from 1990-2002. ... McBride is now (11-12) overall in Big Sky Conference games and is 2-1 vs. Sacramento State overall, 0-1 @Sac State.
RADIO / TV
All Weber State football games will be carried LIVE on radio station KLO (1430 AM). ... Back for his 10th season of Wildcat football play-by-play is WILDCAT CARL ARKY. ... He will be joined in the broadcast booth by former WSU football standouts JUSTIN DeFOUR and TY SPARROW for the six HOME GAMES. ... WSU Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, BRAD LARSEN, will handle the color analyst duties on the road. ... SATURDAY'S PRE-GAME SHOW begins at 2:30 p.m. (MDT) from Sacramento, California.
WILDCAT TRAVEL PLANS
The team and travel party are set to depart from Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 19 aboard Southwest Airlines #129 at 11:30 a.m. and land in Las Vegas, Nevada at 11:50 a.m. (PDT). ... Departure from Las Vegas is at 1:00 p.m. (PDT) and arriving in Sacramento, California at 2:35 p.m. (PDT). ... The Wildcats are scheduled to practice at Hornet Stadium from 4:00-5:00 p.m. (PDT) on Friday afternoon. ... Team headquarters Friday and Saturday night will be the COURTYARD MARRIOTT at 1782 Tribute Road (916) 929-7900. ... Team and travel party will depart from Sacramento on Sunday, Sept. 21 aboard Southwest Airlines #1899 at 9:25 a.m. (PDT) and arrive in Las Vegas at 10:45 a.m. (PDT). ... Departure from Las Vegas is at 11:40 a.m. (PDT) with arrival back in Salt Lake City at 2:20 p.m. (MDT).
47TH SEASON OF FOOTBALL
Thursday's game marks the 47th season of Weber State University football on the four-year level and the 46th season as a member of the Big Sky Conference. ... In 1962, Weber State attained four-year status and played as an NCAA Division II member until 1978 when they moved up to the newly created NCAA Division I-AA level (now I-FCS). ... Weber State's ALL-TIME RECORD in football is 236-256-3 (.477).
The team elected five captains for the 2008 season. ... The DEFENSIVE CAPTAINS will be J.D. FOLSOM (6-3, 230 Sr. SLB), RYAN GALOVIC (6-0, 220 Sr. ROV) and KEVIN LINEHAN (6-3, 255 Jr. DE). ... The OFFENSIVE CAPTAINS are PAUL CARPENTER (6-6, 305 Sr. OT), CAMERON HIGGINS (6-2, 195 Soph. QB) and MARCUS MAILEI (6-1, 245 Sr. FB) ... BRYAN ETEUATI (5-7, 160 Sr.) will be the SPECIAL TEAMS captain.
Saturday's game marks the opening of the 46th Big Sky Confrence season for the Wildcats. WSU became a charter member of the league during the 1963-64 season. ... The Wildcats are a combined 18-27-0 (.400) in Big Sky Conference opening games, and just 4-17-0 (.19) when opening ON THE ROAD. ... The last time WSU opened on the road and won in a Conference opener came in 2003 when the ‘Cats defeated Eastern Washington 35-23 in Cheney. ... The ‘Cats have LOST each of their last two season openers. They lost 20-10 at home to Portland State in 2006 and 21-5 to Montana State in 2007. They defeated Northern Arizona 31-23 in the 2005 opener in Stewart Stadium in Coach Ron McBride's first season.
HIGGINS NAMED BSC Co-OFFENSIVE P.O.W.
For the second time in his brief career, WSU quarterback CAMERON HIGGINS (6-2, 195 Soph. / Hawai'i Kai, Oahu, Hawai'i) has been named the Big Sky Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Week. He shares the honor with Montana wide receiver Mark Mariani. Last October, he shared the honor with Portland State quarterback Drew Hubel. ... Higgins completed 18-23-1 passes for 333 yards and a single game best five touchdowns in the win over Dixie State. He completed his first 14 passes of the game. Four of his five TD tosses came in the first half as the Wildcats built up a 34-7 halftime lead. ... He had five rushing yards giving him 338 total yards for the game. ... He had a staggering 262.94 passing efficiency rating for the game.
BRYANT ETEUATI: ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
Weber State receiver/kick return specialist BRYANT ETEUATI (5-7, 160 Sr. / Layton, Utah) became WSU's career All-Purpose Yards leader last Saturday night. With is 134 all-purpose yards vs. Dixie State, Eteuati moved past Nick Chournos (4,161) with 4,233 career yards. ... He also became the Big Sky Conference career leader in Punt Returns (103) and became the first player in Big Sky history to post 1,000 career Punt Return Yards (1,045). ... He also became the first player in Big Sky Conference history to have over 1,000 career receiving yards, kickoff return yards and punt returns yards.
Rushing 8 - 21 yds 4.12 ypc 0 TDs
Receiving 78 - 1,052 yds 14.40 ypc 6 TDs
Koff Returns 76 - 2,115 yds 27.82 ypr 2 TDs
Punt Returns 102 -1,045 yds 10.24 ypr 2 TDs
NAKAMURA MAKES UP FOR LOST TIME
Coming into the 2008 season, wide receiver now turned tight end, CODY NAKAMURA (6-1, 215 Jr. / Wailuku, Maui, Hawai'i) had just 10 career receptions for 71 yards with a long of 16 and no touchdowns. ... In the first two games of the 2008 season he had five catches for 81 yards (long of 51) and no touchdowns. ... But last Saturday night vs. Dixie State he nearly matched his career stats in just one game with a career high five receptions for a career high 87 yards and caught THREE TOUCHDOWN PASSES of 4, 37 and 8 yards. .. Nakamura also serves as the long snapper on all PAT and Field Goal attempts.
WSU defensive end KEVIN LINEHAN (lynn-a-han), a 6-3, 255 junior from Los Alamitos, California, had a solid evening last Saturday. He led the ‘Cats with four unassisted tackles and had seven total. He had a quarterback sack for minus seven yards and had a pass break up. ... Linehan has TWO FUMBLE RECOVERIES in the first three games. In the season opener vs. Montana-Western he scooped up a fumble and rambled 94-yards for a touchdown - the longest fumble return in WSU history. ... At Hawai'i, he picked up a fumble and returned it 10 yards. He now has three career fumble recoveries.
SMITH HEATING UP
Weber State running back TREVYN SMITH (5-9, 210 Jr.) has been the Big Sky rushing leader each of the past two seasons and has gained over 1,000 yards each campaign. ... Thus far in THREE games Smith has 59 carries for 230 yards and SIX touchdowns (9 catches for 126 yards and TWO touchdowns). ... He's averaging 76.7 yards per game and currently ranks 6th in the Big Sky. ... He had his first 100+ yard rushing game of the 2008 last Saturday vs. Dixie State (116 yards). It was his 11th 100+-yard rushing game in his 25-game career. ... But not to worry early. In his freshman season (2006), Smith did not have a carry in the season opener @Colorado State and just 81 yards in the next game at home vs. Cal Poly but ended the season with 1,129 yards. He rushed for 498 yards in the last three games of the season or just over 44 percent of his season total (203 vs. EWU, and 211 @ISU). ... Last season he averaged just 74.50 yards per game in WSU's first four outings, then turned up the heat and averaged 145.14 yards in the last seven games which included six straight 100+ yard performances with a career high of 225 vs. @Portland State. ... Smith has been a SCORING MACHINE in the first three games with SIX TD RUNS and TWO TD RECEPTIONS for 48 points (16.00 ppg.) He is the current Big Sky leader and ranks SECOND in NCAA Division FCS .
WE GET A KICK OUT OF JON!
The Wildcats have had a pleasant surprise in placekicker JON WILLIAMS (5-10, 200 Soph.). ... Williams, who attended Alcorn State as a freshman, the red-shirted last year at Grossmont JC, is a perfect 14-14 in PATs and 4-4 in Field Goal Attempts this season. He has made FGs of 37, 35,32,and 28 yards.
One of the thorns in the sides of Weber State's football team the last three years has been covering punts. Opponents had 87 punt returns for an average of 13.58 yards per return and four touchdowns in 2005, 2006 and 2007 but that's all changed in 2008. The ‘Cats have allowed just FIVE PUNT RETURNS for a total of TWO YARDS, with a long of four yards.
Weber State had been among the leaders in the Big Sky the last three years in Kickoff Return Yards, holding opponents to an average of 19.07 yards per return.
INTRIGUING MATCH UPS
Saturday's game has some intriguing team match ups for two teams on the rise in the Big Sky Conference. ... Weber State comes into the game as the 2008 Big Sky leader in SCORING (41.0 PPG) and SCORING DEFENSE (16.3), while Sac State is 2nd in SCORING DEFENSE (17.3) and fourth in SCORING (30.7). . . . Sacramento State ranks 1st in TOTAL DEFENSE allowing just 280.0 yards per game. Weber State is 2nd at 300.7. . . . The Hornets are 1st in NET PUNTING at 40.2 yards per game, the Wildcats are 2nd at 39.90. ... The two teams are tied for 1st in the Big Sky in FIRST DOWNS PER GAME at 21.00 each, but the Wildcats are last (9th) in FIRST DOWNS ALLOWED at 17.00 per game. . . . Sacramento State leads the Big Sky in QUARTERBACK SACKS with NINE, while Weber State ranks 3rd in SACK ALLOWED with just three (1.0 per game). . . . Sacramento State ranks 1st in THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS with 18-42 (.429). Weber State ranks 1st in OPPONENT'S THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS having allowed just 8-38 (.211).
QUICK HITTERS . . .
The Wildcats lead the Big Sky in RED ZONE OFFENSE having converted 16-17 (.941) scoring chances inside the 20-yard line of their opponents. Last year the ‘Cats were just 26-41 (.619) in the red-zone. . . . Saturday marks the first time Weber State has played a DAY GAME AT SACRAMENTO STATE. The six previous games have all been at 6:05 p.m.
The Wildcats conclude their non-conference portion of the 2008 schedule with a third-ever meeting with the UNIVERSITY OF UTAH. The Wildcats and Utes last met in 1984 and first met in 1978. ... Kickoff in Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, September 27 will be at 6:05 p.m. (MDT). ... Plenty of excellent tickets remain but only if purchased through the Weber State Ticket office.
R O N M c B R I D E Q U O T E S
ON SAC STATE: "They have really improved on both sides of the ball. I really like their two linebackers Mulitalo and Brannon. They are always around the ball and they make a lot of big, game changing plays. Both of their quarterbacks and their three running backs look solid, that's because their line is creating big holes and giving them time to throw."
ON THE WILDCATS "We did a good job of putting the game away early and then getting a lot of players into game time experiences. The offensive line did a nice job of protecting Cameron and giving him time to find receivers. The defense buckled down after they scored and controlled the line scrimmage from their on out. Jon Williams continues to be impressive with his kicking abilities."