Sacramento State sophomore safety Manny Scott-Anderson expects to have a busy Saturday night when the Hornets play No. 14 Cal Poly at Hornet Stadium.
The Mustangs run the triple option and rank No. 2 nationally in rushing (347.9 yards per game) and No. 7 in total offense (486.3 yards) among Football Championship Subdivision teams.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Scott-Anderson got a taste of the Mustangs’ razzle-dazzle offense last season as a true freshman. He had a career-high 12 tackles in the Hornets’ 36-14 loss in San Luis Obispo.
“You have to be mentally and physically tough because Cal Poly is really physical,” Scott-Anderson said. “You’ve got to get your eyes right because they pound it, pound it and pound it with the run, then they’re going to pull it back and throw it. If you don’t have your eyes right, it’s going for six points.”
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Scott-Anderson had his eyes right last Saturday.
He had 11 tackles, a sack, a pass breakup and snagged his first interception in the Hornets’ 27-19 loss at Northern Colorado. Three of Scott-Anderson’s career-high eight solo tackles prevented potential blowout Bears touchdowns.
“He saved our bacon with some open-field tackles,” Sac State coach Jody Sears said. “He’s really starting to come into his own. His game continually improves … . I’m extremely proud of him for his attitude and the heart that he plays with.”
It also was Sac State’s best defensive game.
The Hornets forced four turnovers and held the Bears to 2 of 11 on third-down conversions. Northern Colorado’s 432 total yardswere the fewest allowed by the Hornets this season, credible for a team that ranks 120th in the FCS in yards allowed (502.6 per game).
“It was definitely a confidence boost for the ‘D,’ ” Scott-Anderson said. “But the main goal is to get that ‘W.’ So while it was encouraging, it wasn’t enough.”
Scott-Anderson is the team’s No. 2 tackler this season with 68 – one behind sophomore linebacker Manoah Pearson – and leads the Hornets in solo tackles with 37. Last year, Scott-Anderson finished third in tackles with 72 behind All-Big Sky Conference senior linebacker Darnell Sankey, now on the Oakland Raiders practice squad, and Pearson.
Like many of his teammates, Scott-Anderson has had to adjust from playing for a winning high school program to playing for a struggling college program that has won just three times and suffered several one-sided losses over the past two seasons.
Scott-Anderson was a running back-defensive back on Elk Grove High teams that were a combined 34-7 during his three varsity seasons. Those teams reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II finals twice and the semifinals once.
Scott-Anderson said a young Hornets defense is starting to gain confidence while learning that it must play four quarters to have a shot at success.
Eight of its 11 starters are underclassmen, as are seven others among the two-deep depth chart. Scott-Anderson said the potential is there, too, because of the special camaraderie among the players. Nine of the Hornets’ double-digit tacklers are area products.
“You used to look at them with that ‘I don’t really like you look,’ because they were rivals to being family now,” Scott-Anderson said. “It’s fun, especially when we talk about our old high schools in the locker room.”