Defensive turnovers key for UC Davis, Sacramento State
UC Davis has allowed 20 more points than Sacramento State through its first two games, but the Aggies are feeling a lot better than the Hornets about their start to the season.
The Aggies (1-1) are .500 entering Saturday’s game at Wyoming (1-1) and the Hornets (0-2) are winless heading into Saturday’s game at Weber State (0-2), a nonconference battle of Big Sky Conference teams.
UCD is tied for first with four other teams in the Football Championship Subdivision in turnover margin; the Hornets are 94th.
In Saturday’s 52-35 victory over Southern Oregon, the Aggies forced five turnovers and didn’t give the ball away; UCD’s four interceptions were one more than they had last season. The forced turnovers made up for Southern Oregon’s 653-617 advantage in yards gained. In a season-opening 53-28 loss Oregon, the Aggies forced two turnovers and committed just one.
“Any time you have those kind of numbers, you have an opportunity to win games,” UCD coach Ron Gould said.
Sac State has committed five turnovers and forced two in losses to Division II Western Oregon (38-30) and Fresno State (31-3). The Hornets turned the ball over three times against Western Oregon and didn’t force any turnovers. On Saturday at Fresno State, the Hornets trailed 10-3 after three quarters, but an interception led to the Bulldogs outscoring the Hornets 21-0 in the fourth quarter.
“(Turnover margin) is so huge, which we learned a hard lesson on that first week,” Sac State coach Jody Sears said. “We were even last week. We need to be in the plus. Our team goal is to be plus-two every game, and we’re minus three after two weeks. So it’s going to be a critical point for this next game.”
The Hornets play Weber State, a team Sears formerly coached, on Saturday in Ogden, Utah. The Wildcats lost to South Dakota 52-49 in double overtime last Saturday after leading 42-21 early in the fourth quarter.
The Aggies travel to Laramie to play Wyoming, the first time they’ve played the Mountain West Conference team. The Cowboys, coming off a six-turnover, 52-17 loss to Nebraska, are coached by Craig Bohl, who won three FCS national championships at North Dakota State.
Gould said the Aggies look forward to playing a Football Bowl Subdivision team that features pro-style offensive power football after facing spread teams in Oregon and Southern Oregon.
“It’s good to get back to blue-collar football,” Gould said.
Area players standing out for Hornets – Despite a slow start, Sac State has had a couple of individual bright spots.
Junior Tyler Meteer may have earned a regular spot in the starting lineup after making 13 tackles, including three for losses, against Fresno State.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker played only special teams against Western Oregon but started against Fresno State after a couple of underclass linebackers struggled in the opener.
Though Metteer has been largely a reserve for Sac State, The Bee’s 2013 Defensive Player of the Year from Del Oro High School has performed well when given an opportunity.
As a freshman, he had 16 tackles against Idaho State when he replaced Sac State standout Darnell Sankey, who was ejected in the first quarter for “targeting.”
“I was really proud of Tyler, he’s just a great football player and a great person,” Sears said. “I was happy for him, he had a great game and, absolutely, you are going to see Tyler more.”
Wide receiver Cody Demps leads Sac State in receiving with seven catches for 120 yards. He also has caught a two-point conversion pass.
Demps, a four-year basketball standout for the Hornets, last played football at Pleasant Grove High School, where he quarterbacked the Eagles’ Sac-Joaquin Section champion and runners-up teams his junior and senior seasons.