When it comes to talking about injuries, Sacramento State coach Marshall Sperbeck usually goes to his “next man up” mantra.
But the Hornets have been hit so hard by injuries this season that Sperbeck couldn’t hold back after practice earlier this week.
“We’re starting to run out of men,” Sperbeck said.
Heading into today’s game at Portland State, seven positions have changed starters since the Hornets’ first game against San Jose State on Aug. 29. Several positions have had multiple starters because of injuries, including running back, where Brandon Kellermann, Ezekiel Graham, Jordan Robinson and Demetrius Warren all have started.
The newest Hornet to start today will be junior Dexter Alcala at nickel back.
The special-teams standout replaced the injured Markell Williams in last Saturday’s 42-7 loss to Cal Poly and was one of the few bright spots for the Hornets. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Alcala had eight tackles.
Williams had made 22 consecutive starts, second only to senior linebacker Todd Davis’ 32, before suffering an ankle injury.
“You get chipped away when you have games like that,” Sperbeck said of overtime losses to No. 8 Montana and Southern Utah, and a one-point loss to No. 13 Northern Arizona. “We didn’t play up to our expectations against Cal Poly. It’s frustrating because we have had a lot of good games and lot of good moments leading up to that game.”
Even resilient junior quarterback Garrett Safron struggled against the Mustangs after taking several punishing hits against Montana.
He took some more licks against Cal Poly’s fast and physical defense in the first half and was a shell of himself in the final two quarters.
He finished 24 of 43 for 204 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions and rushed for 25 yards on 10 carries. His 15-yard scoring strike to DeAndre Carter was his 23rd of the season, which ties him with Jeff Fleming (2010) for Sac State’s single-season record. Carter’s touchdown catch was his 13th of the season, moving him to within one of Mike Carter’s mark of 14 in 1969.
“He has a nickname among our staff of ‘Man Dude,’” Burton said laughing. “He’s a man and a dude all in the same.”
The 250-pound Davis has 107 tackles this season after compiling 14 against Cal Poly. That puts him No. 8 in the Football Championship Subdivision at 10.7 tackles per game.
With 327 career tackles, the Palmdale native is 10 shy of moving up to second all-time on the Hornets’ list. No. 2 Cyrus Mulitalo had 336 from 2005-08.
He’s also on pace to set the Sac State career punting average. The current record is 42.27 yards per punt set by Doyle Brunson from 1968-69. Weldon is averaging 43.89 yards for his career and had his longest punt of this season last week against Cal Poly, a 53-yarder.
Today, he’ll try to match punts with Portland State’s Kyle Loomis, the national leader at 47.8 yards.
SACRAMENTO STATE (4-6, 3-3 BIG SKY)
AT PORTLAND STATE (6-4, 3-3)
UC Davis: vs. North Dakota, 4 p.m., 1140
Stanford: at USC, 5 p.m., Ch. 10, 1050
Cal: at Colorado, 2:30 p.m., PAC12, 810