UC Davis Hosts No. 25/24 Northern Arizona in Home Opener

Tom Hemmingsen leads the Aggies in receptions and yards this season.

Sept. 10, 2013

UC Davis game notes | Northern Arizona game notes
Live Audio | Live Video | Twitter in-game updates 

No. 25/24 No. Arizona (0-1) at UC Davis (0-2)

Saturday, Sept. 14 • 6 pm (kickoff 6:07)  • Davis, Calif.
Aggie Stadium (10,849; Shaw Sports Turf)
TV - None
Radio - KHTK (1140 AM) • Pregame begins at 5:30 pm
Live Video: www.WatchBigSky.com (Free)
Live Audio: www.ucdavisaggies.com
In-game Updates: www.Twitter.com/UCDavisInGame

Series Record: Northern Arizona leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Oct. 20, 2012; NAU won 21-7 
Last Meeting Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.
Longest Aggie Win Streak: None
Last Aggie Win: None
Last Lumberjack Win: Oct 20, 2012; NAU won 21-7

UC Davis readies for its home opener while playing its 95th season of football... Since home/road designations started being recorded in the school annals in 1947, the Aggies are 41-23-2 in home openers... They're 3-3 at Aggie Stadium... UC Davis begins its first three-game homestand since its "Southern-Stand" in 2010 against South Dakota, South Alabama and Southern Utah... The game is also the first home appearance for first-year head coach Ron Gould who is also looking for his first win overall... Former coaches Bob Biggs (`93 vs. Cal Poly), BOB FOSTER (`89 vs. Santa Clara) and JIM SOCHOR (`70 vs. Univ. of San Francisco) were each victorious in their inaugural home games... Saturday's game is the first of two straight nonconference games against Big Sky opponents with Portland State visiting next week... UC Davis is trying to avoid its first winless start after three games for the first time since 1979 when it started 0-2-1... Its last 0-3 start was in 1965... The last time the Aggies started 0-2 was in 2011 and they responded with a 31-3 win over San Diego, also at home... QB Jimmy Laughrea gets the starting nod for the second straight week after throwing for 178 yards in last weekend's game at Nevada.  



Saturday's game will be aired on KHTK-Radio (1140 AM) with UC Davis alum SCOTT MARSH (play-by-play) and DOUG KELLY (analyst) in the booth... They'll be joined by BILL HERENDA (sidelines)... The pregame show begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be streamed (free) on www.ucdavisaggies.com.

There is no television coverage of Saturday's game...  It will be available, however, free of charge through the Big Sky Conference on www.WatchBigSky.com... A link is available through the schedule page at www.ucdavisaggies.com... All remaining regular season Aggie games will be available on the online network.

UC Davis and Northern Arizona are meeting for the just the second time overall but for the second consecutive year... The Lumberjacks, ranked 16th by The Sports Network last year and 15th by the FCS Coaches, beat UC Davis 21-7 at Walkup Skydome in their inaugural meeting on Oct. 20, 2012... The defensive-minded game featured punts on the game's first nine drives before NAU finally broke through with a 17-yard pass from QB CORY GROSSART to WR NICK COLE late in the second quarter... Trailing 21-0, UC Davis scored on RB Courtney Williams' two-yard run midway in the fourth quarter and later drove to inside the 5-yard line before being turned away, thwarting comeback hopes... QB Randy Wright threw for 181 yards while TE Taylor Sloat had two catches for 48 yards... Graduated LB Byron Gruendl led the defense with 10 solo stops while graduated LB Jordan Glass had an interception.

Northern Arizona opened the season with a 35-0 loss at intrastate rival Arizona on Aug. 30 and was idle last weekend... The Lumberjacks return 42 letterwinners and 19 starters from last year's team which started last season with an 8-1 record before dropping their final two games, missing out on the NCAA postseason... A big part of NAU's success can be found in RB ZACH BOUMAN who rushed for 1,182 yards and eight touchdowns last year and is on the watch list for the 2013 Payton Award, given to the top offensive player in the FCS... He started his 2013 season by gaining 71 yards on 21 carries against Arizona... He also caught five passes for 19 yards... WR NICK COLE was the Lumberjacks' leading receiver, catching six passes for 62 yards... QB KYREN POE completed 21-36-3 passing in the opener, collecting 176 yards... DE KANTARIS QUEN's six tackles led the defense... NAU trailed just 14-0 at halftime but a 14-point third quarter by the Wildcats sealed the win... Arizona picked up 306 rushing yards while only throwing 13 times for 87 more... The Wildcats outgained NAU, 393-270... The Lumberjacks did find success on fourth down, making 4 of 5... However, they were held in check on third down, finishing just 4 of 19... NAU had a significant advantage in time of possession, 40:16-19:44. 

Nevada scored twice in the game's opening five minutes with its first score coming barely a minute into the game on a seven-yard run from QB CODY FAJARDO after UC Davis turned the ball over on just its second play from scrimmage... WR RICHY TURNER's 40-yard TD reception accounted for the other early score... CB Shamawn Wright's 59-yard kickoff return late in the second quarter put UC Davis in business deep inside the Wolf Pack's territory and helped lead to QB Jimmy Laughrea's 23-yard TD toss to WR Tom Hemmingsen three plays later... RB Manusamoa Luuga rushed for 81 yards, including a 46-yard gain on his first collegiate touch... Nevada picked up 30 first downs to the Aggies' 11 and held a 535-296 advantage in total yardage... UC Davis had the ball for 9:23 of the first quarter and just 3:00 in the fourth... The Wolf Pack was 11 of 19 (.579) on third down while the Aggies converted just 3 of 12 (.250)... DE Nick King picked up the team's first sack of the season when he tracked down Fajardo late in the second quarter... Neither team had a fumble... LB Jonathan Bias had a game-high tying 11 tackles along with LB Steven Pitts... Both are career-highs.

WR Tom Hemmingsen returns to the Aggies after missing last year due to injury... He led the receiving corps in 2011 in receptions (50), yards (622) and touchdowns (7) and had a long catch of 50 yards... Hemmingsen is off to a similar start this season, collecting a team-high nine catches for 103 yards and a touchdown (vs. Nevada)... He has 72 career grabs for 865 yards as he closes in on 100 career catches and 1,000 career yards... His return gives UC Davis its top receivers from each of the past two years ready to go... WR Corey Galindo (33-598, 3 TDs) paced the team last year, grabbing a 72-yard score from QB Randy Wright against Cal Poly... He has 67 career catches for 971 yards with 1,000 yards in his sights as well.

Ron Gould spent 16 seasons on the staff at nearby Cal, developing some of the nation's top collegiate - and now professional - running backs while also rising to associate head coach status... It's not surprising then that his Aggie coaching staff has a decidedly "Golden Bear" flavor... Seven members of Gould's coaching and support staff have spent time in Berkeley, including offensive coordinator - and Aggie alum - Kevin Daft who worked alongside Gould for seven seasons as wide receivers and quarterbacks coach... Others include defensive coordinator Bert Watts (2 years as def. asst.), offensive line coach Matt Wiegand (2 years as grad asst.), tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Ben Steele (2 years as offensive admin. asst.), defensive quality control staff member Robert Haney (1 year as quality control asst.), offensive quality control coach Quinn Tedford (1 year volunteer asst. wide receivers coach and also a former player)... Tedford is the son of former Cal coach Jeff Tedford... Additionally, director of operations Denis Hallin (9 years as admin. asst.) brings extensive experience from Cal. 

It's no secret that Ron Gould has been called one of the, if not the, best running backs coaches in the country... His success with the Bears' ground attack and the NFL-caliber players that excelled under his tutelage have been well-documented... In 2004 he oversaw Cal's best rushing average in more than 50 years at 256.8 ypg which ranked it sixth nationally and helped standout J.J. Arrington finish eighth in the 2004 Heisman Trophy balloting... Several Gould's players went on to the NFL... Jahvid Best (2008) was one of three protegès to lead the Pac-10 in rushing, a trio that also featured Arrington (2004) and Marshawn Lynch (2006).

The list of players that are or have recently been on NFL rosters include:
C.J. Anderson (Denver Broncos) Eric Stevens (St. Louis Rams)
Justin Forsett (Jacksonville Jaguars) Shane Vereen (New England Patriots)
Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks) Jahvid Best (Detroit Lions)
Will Ta'ufo'ou (Jacksonville Jaguars)

RB GABE MANZARES, a walk-on transfer from City College of San Francisco, was impressive enough that he earned the start in the season opener at South Dakota... He responded by gaining 91 yards on 18 carries - including runs of 19 and 17 yards - and scored the Aggies' only touchdown with a one-yard plunge... He missed last week's game because of injury... True freshman RB Manusamoa Luuga, who did not see action in the opener, played his first game at Nevada and responded with 81 yards on 13 carries... Luuga's first career carry was a memorable one after he broke through the Wolf Pack line and went 46 yards up the left sideline in the first quarter.


QB Jimmy Laughrea, a graduate of nearby Rocklin HS who transferred from Boise State, made his first career start last Saturday at Nevada... He responded by completing 13 of 27 passes for 178 yards and a 23-yard TD to WR Tom Hemmingsen... Laughrea was intercepted twice but one was tipped into a defender's hands while the other was a desperation heave just before halftime... Laughrea did not see action at Boise State... He made his collegiate debut on Aug. 31 at South Dakota, completing 6 of 10 passes for 50 yards.

LB Jonathan Bias and LB Steven Pitts helped pace the UC Davis defense against Nevada with career-high tackle totals... Bias had 11 stops, three of them solo, and was a nominee for the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week award... Pitts added 11 tackles as well, two of them solo... Bias had eight tackles during his first season on the field in 2012 and had five in this year's opener... Pitts also had a career-high total last weekend, eclipsing the 10 he had at South Dakota State last season. 

DE Nick King played a reserve role for the UC Davis defense in 2010 and 2011 before enjoying a breakout season in 2012 when he led the Aggies with 6.5 sacks (for 42 yards)... He had a team-high 14.0 TFLs (for 64 yards) and finished fifth on the team with 48 tackles... King added a team-high three quarterback hurries and forced two fumbles... He twice had seven tackles in a game (SDSU, Weber State).... His sack of Nevada QB CODY FAJARDO was UC Davis' first this season.

UC Davis enjoyed a standout season in the special teams department, particularly in punting and kick returns which each led the FCS... A big part of that punting effort - Colton Schmidt - graduated and enjoyed time this summer in the San Francisco 49ers' preseason camp... 2012 NCAA ranks: 

Net punting - 1st (41.4 avg.)
Kick returns -1st (26.4 avg.)
Kick returns (ind.) - 16. Alex Hines (26.9)
Kick returns (ind.) - 30. Jonathan Perkins (24.9)
Punting (ind.) - 6. COLTON  SCHMIDT (44.5)

Perkins had an 81-yard TD return against Sacramento State in the Causeway Classic, the fifth-longest return for a score in school history.

As noted above, the Aggies led the FCS in kickoff returns in 2012, and 2013 is shaping up to be much more of the same... UC Davis, with its 33.2 average per return is already ahead of last year's mark and is ranked 10th nationally... CB Shamawn Wright is averaging 36.0 yards per return, ranking him seventh in the FCS... His big return was a 59-yarder which he took at the 1-yard line against Nevada, sprinted up the middle and then cut to the right before finally being stopped deep inside Wolf Pack Territory... It helped set up the Aggies' lone touchdown... Wright also had a 31-yarder against South Dakota on Aug. 31... A quirk in the NCAA stats inadvertently omitted CB Jonathan Perkins this week but his 29.0 average places him 14th nationally... He had a big 45-yarder at South Dakota.

Senior S AARYN JONES is back this year as the Aggies' top returning tackler from 2012... He had 52 stops to go with an interception during his junior season, finishing third on the team in tackles... He's wasted little time getting off to a similar start this year, leading UC Davis with nine tackles, eight of them solo, at South Dakota and then posting eight more (six solo) at Nevada... Jones is currently second on the squad with 17 tackles, including a team-high 14 solo.

The Aggies have found it rough going on third down so far this season, converting just 7 of 25 (28%) opportunities... Nevada held UC Davis to just 3 of 12... Opponents, meanwhile, have been successful on 14 of 31 (45%) third-down tries, a figure heavily influenced by the Wolf Pack which was 11 of 19 (.579)... UC Davis has tried going for it just once on fourth down while Nevada and South Dakota have combined to go 3 for 5. 

UC Davis returns veteran experience on the offensive line in left tackle Ian Joseph and right guard Jimmy Kunkel... Joseph, a 6-6, 300, junior from Placerville is working on a streak of 24 consecutive starts... He was the Aggies' first freshman full-time start at left tackle in more than a decade when he opened his career at Arizona State in the 2011 opener... Kunkel, a 6-3, 305, senior from Lakehead, Calif., made his Aggie debut in the 2010 opener at Cal but began his starting streak the same game as Joseph in 2011, putting his run at 24 games as well.

Similar courtesy of consecutive streaks can be said of the Aggies' defensive backfield as well... CB Jonathan Perkins, who earned All-Big Sky Conference honorable mention accolades last year, has started the last 34 games going back to his redshirt freshman season.... He was an All-Great West Conference second-team pick in 2010 before gaining Big Sky honors last year... Perkins is a senior from Gardena, Calif.....  Dre Allen, a senior from Compton, Calif., has started 13 consecutive games including all 11 last year... Allen has 14 career starts. 

A 4-7 overall record was not what the Aggies wished for former head coach Bob Biggs who announced prior to the start of the season that 2012 would be his last... But, a quick glance down the results show the Aggies were anything but pushovers, particularly against elite opponents... UC Davis faced three teams that were ranked when it played them and two others that made their home in the polls shortly after their matchup with the Aggies... Four of them went to the FCS playoffs. 

• South Dakota State 12, UC Davis 8 (Sept. 15)
The visiting Aggies didn't trail in the defensive game until the fourth quarter. The Jackrabbits later advanced to the postseason's second round after 

• Cal Poly 28, UC Davis 20 (Sept. 22)
The host Mustangs scored 28 straight, erasing a 10-0 deficit, but then had to withstand a fourth-quarter Aggie rally that made it a one-touchdown game. Cal Poly also earned an NCAA bid.

• No. 2 Montana State 48, UC Davis 41 (Oct. 6)
The Aggies played rude hosts by scoring 24 straight points in the third quarter, turning a big deficit into a 38-31 lead. UC Davis led 41-38 in the fourth quarter before the Bobcats rallied to survive the upset bid. MSU made the national quarterfinals.

• No. 15 No. Arizona 21, UC Davis 7 (Oct. 20)
Defense ruled this matchup in Flagstaff with the Lumberjacks leading just 7-0 midway through the third quarter. Two quick scores widened their lead but the Aggies later had a chance to get to within a touchdown before being turned away with an NAU fourth-quarter goal-line stand.

• No. 5 E. Washington 31, UC Davis 28 (Nov. 10)
A 22-point second quarter gave the visiting Aggies a stunning 25-14 halftime lead. However, a TD midway through the fourth pushed the Eagles into the lead who then needed to block a last-minute 52-yard FG attempt to avoid OT. EWU made it to the NCAA Championship.

The conference released its preseason polls of both the media/SID's and head coaches during its annual Big Sky Kickoff Event in Park City, Utah on July 15... The top 10 teams were the same in each ranking: 1. Montana State, 2. Eastern Washington, 3. Montana, 4. Cal Poly, 5. Northern Arizona, 6. Sacramento State, 7. North Dakota, 8. Northern Colorado, 9. Southern Utah, 10. Portland State... The media finished with 11. UC DAVIS, 12. Weber State, 13. Idaho State... The coaches listed 11. Weber State, 12. UC DAVIS and 13. Idaho State in their final three spots. 

Several Aggies were recognized by various media outlets during the annual parade of preseason honors... The list includes FB Dalton Turay who was selected to the preseason All-Big Sky Team, voted by the media as the squad's only fullback... Turay rushed for 234 yards and 7 TDs last year, including three touchdowns in the second quarter alone against Weber State, while also adding 21 receptions for 156 yards and another score. 

Other preseason honors include:
Phil Steele's Preview Preseason All-Big Sky Teams - FB Dalton Turay, TE Taylor Sloat, DE Nick King AND CB Jonathan Perkins.

Phil Steele's Preview Preseason Position Ratings - FB Dalton Turay (#12), TE Taylor Sloat (#18), KR and CB Jonathan Perkins (#19 and #25), DE Nick King (#22), PK Brady Stuart (#28), QB Randy Wright (#33) and WR Corey Galindo (#35).

College Sports Madness Preseason All-Big Sky Teams - TE Taylor Sloat (2nd team), DE Nick King (3rd team), CB Jonathan Perkins (third team).

College Football Performance Awards Watch Lists - Tight ends: Taylor Sloat; Placekickers: Brady Stuart; Kick returners: Jonathan Perkins.

QB Randy Wright was the first freshman - albeit a redshirt freshman - since 2000 to start at signal-caller when he opened his playing career at Cal in 2010... He's started 33 consecutive games, had a trio of 300-yard games and is entrenching his name throughout the Aggies' career charts... Here's a quick look.

Passing yards - 4th (7,152 yards)
Total offense - 4th (6,877 yards)
Passing attempts - 3rd (1,060)
Completions - 3rd (607)
Touchdowns - T-6th (44)  

Wright needs 449 yards to move up in yards, is 95 attempts from owning that school record, and is just 84 completions from taking over the No. 1 spot on that ledger.

UC Davis has 100 players on its roster and if 99 of them ever need to find a ride home during vacation, they will very likely have a teammate that's from a nearby locale... That's because 99 percent (that's 99 of 100) of the Aggies' roster is home-grown from California... Freshman LB Xavier Griggs is the lone player who might have to scramble for a ride since he hails from Portland, Ore... Griggs is the first out-of-state player since former QB Sean Maraz who was from Phoenix, Ariz., and was on the 2011 roster. 

UC Davis will be selecting its team captains on a week-to-week basis:

SOUTH DAKOTA - DE Nick King; OL Jimmy Kunkel; TE Taylor Sloat; CB Dre Allen.
NEVADA - WR Tom Hemmingsen, DE Colin Kelly, DE Nick King, OL Parker Smith
NORTHERN ARIZONA - OL Ian Joseph, DE Nick King, OL Jimmy Kunkel, LB Steven Pitts

The league office selects offensive, defense and special teams players of the week every Monday during the football season.

Sept. 2 - Offense: QB Vernon ADAMS, Eastern Washington; Defense: DE Brady DALY, Montana State; Special Teams: K Colton COOK, Southern Utah.

Sept. 9 - Offense: QB Kieran MCDONAGH, Portland State; Defense: LB MATT HOLLEY, Southern Utah; Special Teams: Brendon GARCIA, Idaho State.

Spring practices were livened up this year with visits from three players that were either on NFL rosters or on their way... Former Cal running back great - and most recently a member of the Detroit Lions - JAHVID BEST came by on Apr. 6 and spoke to the team after practice... He relayed a story about being called into Ron Gould's office... Best thought he was in trouble but instead he said Gould told him, "I'm going to push you and I'm going to test you everyday, no matter what. You can either embrace that or you can fight it."... Best embraced it, finishing his career with 2,668 rushing yards and 29 TDs... He was joined at practice by FB ERIC STEVENS who earned a spot on the St. Louis Rams' practice squad this season... NFL veteran TE Daniel Fells, most recently with the New England Patriots, visited on Apr. 12... Fells had 59 catches for 964 career yards as an Aggie from 2002-05... He was on the Aggies' team in 2005 when it posted its stunning 20-17 win over Stanford. 

UC Davis is 3-3 on Sept. 14 games, going back to 1962 when dates were first added to the recordbooks... Most recently, the Aggies beat visiting Abilene Christian 34-17 in 2002... Other games from this date in history: 56-31 loss at Cal State Northride (1996), 31-28 win at Cal Poly (1991), 13-9 loss at Boise State (1985), 50-21 win against Portland State (1974) and 17-10 loss at Cal State Fullerton (1973).

The Aggies played an NCAA Div. I FBS opponent for the ninth consecutive season when they traveled to Nevada on Sept. 7... They are 2-9 with victories over Stanford (20-17; 2005) and San Jose State (14-13, 2010)... Among the other FBS teams they've faced are TCU, Arizona State, Hawai'i, Boise State, Cal and Fresno State... UC Davis also had a memorable upset against (then-called) Div. I-A Pacific in 1986, upsetting the Tigers 46-41... UC Davis has FBS opponents lined up for each of the next three seasons: Stanford (2014), Nevada (2015) and Oregon (2016).

No, this doesn't refer to putting a roof on Aggie Stadium... After Aug. 31's tough loss at South Dakota, the Aggies' all-time indoor record stands at 4-5... The first game inside was played in 2001 during the NCAA Div. II Playoffs when North Dakota beat UC Davis 14-2... The most recent win was a 52-45 shootout at Idaho State last season... The Aggies have no other indoor games scheduled for this season. 

Former head coach JIM SOCHOR, still a highly visible member of the Aggie community after bringing great success to UC Davis from 1970-88, helped spawn the coaching careers of several prominent collegiate and professional coaches... CHRIS PETERSEN (Boise State) is an alum of UC Davis who quarterbacked the Aggies in the 1980s, GARY PATTERSON (TCU) is a former coach under Sochor, DAN HAWKINS is another Aggie alum who most notably coached at Boise State and Colorado, Aggie player MIKE BELLOTTI (Oregon) was a highly successful collegiate coach, former player NICK ALIOTTI is currently the defensive coordinator at Oregon, and PAUL HACKETT played for UC Davis before a prominent NFL and collegiate coaching career... And proving the apple doesn't fall far from the Hackett tree, former UC Davis LB Nathaniel Hackett (1999-2002), son of Dan, is currently the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills... The younger Hackett's teammate, S Ejiro Evero, is an offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.

UC Davis will play one game televised locally when it travels to rival Sacramento State for the 60th Causeway Classic on Sept. 23... The game will be broadcast by Comcast SportsNet California... Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Tickets for all UC Davis home games can be obtained by contact the UC Davis Athletics Ticket Office at (530) 752-AGS1 or by visiting www.ucdavisaggies.com... Season tickets begin at $65.

UC Davis continues a three-game homestand when it entertains Portland State next weekend (Sept. 21), the second of two straight nonconference games against Big Sky competition... The Vikings will be playing for the seventh time in the past nine years and the third straight time at Aggie Stadium... Idaho State will play its first-ever game at UC Davis on Sept. 28 as the Big Sky season kicks off for both teams... The Aggies won a 52-45 shootout in Pocatello, Idaho, in 2012.

The Last Meeting
UC Davis7
Northern Arizona21
October 20, 2012
Flagstaff, Ariz.
Lumberjacks Thwart Aggies' Comeback Bid, 21-7
Courtney Williams scored on a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and UC Davis made a bid to nearly erase a three-touchdown deficit, but No. 16/15 Northern Arizona used a late stand near the goal line to help beat the Aggies 21-7 at Walkup Skydome on Saturday afternoon.