College Sports

Sacramento State’s Joey Banks looks for different result against Jake Browning

Sacramento State defensive back Joey Banks (1) tackles Eastern Oregon wide receiver Jake Billingsley (7) during the first half on Sept. 5 in Sacramento.
Sacramento State defensive back Joey Banks (1) tackles Eastern Oregon wide receiver Jake Billingsley (7) during the first half on Sept. 5 in Sacramento. aseng@sacbee.com

Joey Banks of Sacramento State had a busy game the last time he opposed quarterback Jake Browning.

A senior linebacker at Franklin High School in 2013, Banks was all over the field while making 18 tackles during the Wildcats’ Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff game against Folsom.

Banks also sacked Browning, who already was making state-wide headlines as a record-setting junior.

Despite Banks’ best efforts in his last high school game, Browning passed for 332 yards and six touchdowns in Folsom’s 49-16 win.

“That was a long game,” said Banks, now a redshirt freshman defensive back for the Hornets. “(Browning) had all the time in the world. His offensive line was outstanding. Of course (losing) my last high school game wasn’t how I wanted it to end. But I enjoyed playing against him.”

Banks will get another shot at Browning on Saturday morning when the Hornets play at Washington, where the freshman quarterback will make his first home start.

It’s going to be very interesting. He’s a young quarterback with a good football IQ who is good at reading defenses. We’re going to have to disguise things and not show things too early because he’s smart.

Sacramento State defensive back Joey Banks on facing Washington freshman quarterback Jake Browning

“It’s going to be very interesting,” Banks said. “He’s a young quarterback with a good football IQ who is good at reading defenses. We’re going to have to disguise things and not show things too early because he’s smart.”

Though he wasn’t on the field for long, Banks got a taste of the big stage last season when the Hornets played at Cal. He suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff and did not return in the Hornets’ 55-14 loss. Shortly after, he injured his elbow, had surgery and redshirted even though the former Delta Valley Conference MVP and Bee All-Metro first-team selection showed glimpses of being an impact player in the four games in which he played.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Banks made a splash last Saturday in his first start against NAIA Eastern Oregon. He had 11 tackles – 31/2 for losses – and a sack in a 41-20 victory in Sac State’s season opener at Hornet Stadium.

“After being out so long and coming back from injury, it just felt good to be on the field,” Banks said. “It was nice that after working hard in fall camp I was able to hit somebody who is not my teammate.”

Banks was one of many standouts. Linebacker Darnell Sankey, quarterback Daniel Kniffin, wide receiver Shane Harrison, running back Jordan Robinson and receiver-punt returner Isiah Hennie helped Sac State take a 38-0 lead midway through the third quarter before the Hornets relaxed a little.

11 Tackles by Sacramento State defensive back Joey Banks last week in his first collegiate start

Washington will be a different story. Just as the Hornets were bigger, faster and stronger than the Mountaineers, the physicality and speed of play of the Football Bowl Subdivision Huskies will be on another level. Washington also is looking for a confidence builder after losing their opener 16-13 at No. 23 Boise State last Friday.

Sac State hopes to channel its past success against Pacific-12 Conference schools on the road. In 2011, the Hornets upset Oregon State 29-28 in overtime, then the next season edged Colorado 30-28 in Boulder.

Banks was a sophomore at Franklin the year Sac State beat a Pac-12 team for the first time in school history.

“I really didn’t know anything about Sac State, and then when I heard they beat Oregon State, I went, ‘What? Who?’” Banks said. “That’s when I started to pay attention to Sac State.”

Kudos for quarterbacks – Sac State coach Jody Sears was impressed with Browning’s performance against Boise State, even though he didn’t throw a touchdown pass and had an interception.

“I thought it was really, really good, regardless of what his stats might say,” Sears said. “The decisions he made as a true freshman in that kind of environment, on that kind of stage, while putting his team in position to win or tie was stellar. But that’s Jake. We’ve known him since he was a sophomore in high school. He seemed very calm, very in control. He managed the game superbly.”

Sears also was pleased with how his quarterback played in his starting debut against Eastern Oregon. Kniffin, a sophomore, threw two touchdown passes, ran for a touchdown and directed an offense that scored on seven consecutive possessions.

“After we scored the fourth or fifth time, I’m like, ‘OK, yeah, this is kind of like (what) we see in practice,’” Sears said. “He was pretty sharp. He understands the offense, knows where he is going with the football. I’m proud of him.”

Big Sky, big week – The Hornets wouldn’t mind feeding off the success of two Big Sky Conference teams in Week 1. Portland State upset Washington State 24-17, and North Dakota topped Wyoming 24-13 for its first win over an FBS opponent. Eastern Washington fell 61-42 to Oregon, while Southern Utah led in the fourth quarter against Utah State before yielding a late touchdown and falling 12-9.

“That’s why we play the game; that’s why were excited to go (play Washington),” Sears said. “We have a chance.”

Lining up – The offensive line of Lars Hanson, Ruben Meza, Anthony Viveiros, Lake Aiono and Jonathan Bade helped the Hornets rush for 203 yards, kept Kniffin from being sacked and did not commit a penalty. Hanson, the senior left tackle, is the only returning starter. Viveiros, Aiono and Meza made their first career starts.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP

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