A young Sacramento State football team is about to get younger.
Freshman quarterback Nate Ketteringham will start for the Hornets (1-5, 0-3) on Saturday at Big Sky Conference co-leaderSouthern Utah (3-2, 2-0).
Ketteringham made his college debut in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 35-13 loss at Montana State after Kolney Cassel left because of a shoulder injury. Ketteringham was 5 of 9 for 40 yards and rushed six times for 18 yards in front of more than 19,000 screaming Bobcats fans in Bozeman, Mont.
“When things transpired the other night, I looked at him and said, ‘Are you ready to play?’ ” Hornets coach Jody Sears said. “He looked at me like I had worms growing out of my head and said, ‘Absolutely I’m ready to play.’
“ … I was very pleased with the way he managed the offense, and how poised he was to go into a hostile environment like that and compete against one of the top teams in the country.”
When things transpired the other night, I looked at him and said, ‘Are you ready to play?’ He looked at me like I had worms growing out of my head and said, ‘Absolutely I’m ready to play.’
Sac State coach Jody Sears on freshman quarterback Nate Ketteringham
As a three-star high school prospect, Ketteringham was considered a coup for the Hornets after he helped Centennial High School of Corona reach the CIF State Bowl Open Division championship against De La Salle last season.
Sears had hoped to redshirt Ketteringham this season, but starter Daniel Kniffin injured his shoulder against Eastern Washington and is doubtful for Saturday. Sears said Cassel, an SMU transfer, is unlikely to return this season after separating his shoulder against Montana State.
The No. 3 quarterback, Nolan Merker from Sheldon High School, broke his leg in the season opener against Eastern Oregon, and Baylor transfer Alexis Robinson, who played briefly against Weber State and is a strong runner, is still trying to find a consistent passing touch.
Sears said Robinson will back up Ketteringham on Saturday and Dre Terrell, a 5-foot-7 safety, has been working as the third-stringer. Terrell, a redshirt freshman, played quarterback at Pleasant Grove, where he threw for 21 touchdowns and rushed for 11 as a senior in 2013.
“This is football, and things like this happen,” Sears said. “ ... It’s next man up. You don’t abandon ship. You don’t whine or cry.”
With freshman John McGill replacing injured Stone Sander at tight end and redshirt freshman Jeremiah Reddick getting snaps at running back, the Hornets have played 26 true or redshirt freshmen, several in starting roles.
This is football, and things like this happen. It’s next man up. You don’t abandon ship. You don’t whine or cry.
Sears on injuries to the Hornets’ top three quarterbacks
Sears also had some good news about injuries. Rushing leader Jordan Robinson (104 carries, 558 yards, three touchdowns) should be ready to play against Southern Utah. The junior left the Montana State game in the second half because of a leg injury.
Southern Utah, picked to finish eighth in the Big Sky preseason media and coaches polls, is tied for first in the conference with Eastern Washington. Southern Utah defeated Northern Colorado 30-3 and Weber State 44-0 before a bye last week.
The Thunderbirds are second in turnover ratio in the Football Championship Subdivision with 12 interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Sears said they are one of the best defensive teams in the nation and defensive end James Cowser and strong safety Miles Killebrew are NFL prospects.
Despite being tied for first, Southern Utah is dealing with a midseason assistant coaching change.
Gary Crowton abruptly stepped down as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach on Oct. 5. The former BYU coach and NFL assistant has been replaced by assistant offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Justin Walterscheid.
“There is a lot of adversity with the change,” Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb said. “But I have tremendous confidence in our team.”
Aggies head to Greeley – UC Davis’ 38-24 victory over Northern Arizona on Saturday was the Aggies’ first home win in more than a year, first homecoming victory since 2011 and 500th win overall..
UCD (1-5, 1-2) plays at Northern Colorado (3-2, 1-2) on Saturday.
The Aggies had season highs for rushing yards (208) and passing yards (289) and kept the ball for 40:42 of 60 minutes. The Aggies’ time-of-possession average of 34:56 minutes is fourth nationally in the FCS.
But Aggies coach Ron Gould said the stat he hopes to see against Northern Colorado is no turnovers. The Bears returned two fumbles for touchdowns in a 27-20 win over Sac State on Oct. 3 at Hornet Stadium.
“That defense is really scary, especially how they blitz and bring pressure,” Gould said.