Weber State (1-2, 0-0) at UC Davis (1-2, 0-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 6 p.m.
Aggie Stadium (10,849) • Davis, Calif.
Radio: KHTK (1140 AM) • KDVS (90.3 FM)
Live stats: www.ucdavisaggies.com
• UC Davis opens its fifth Big Sky football season on Saturday with a rematch against Weber State, which beat the Aggies, 23-3, in Ogden, Utah, last year.
• The Aggies are 0-4 in Big Sky openers, including an 0-2 mark at Aggie Stadium... UC Davis last won a league-opener in 2010 when it beat South Dakota, 17-13, as a member of the Great West Conference.
• With a win, UC Davis will be 2-2 for the first time as an FCS member and the first time since 2007, its first in Aggie Stadium.
• The Aggies have put together a run of five consecutive games, dating back to last year, with a 100-yard receiver... WR Keelan Doss is the latest after catching seven passes for 104 yards at Wyoming last week... It was his second of the year.
• Weber State is the first FCS opponent for UC Davis in 2016 after a pair of FBS teams and an NAIA foe started the schedule.
• Sophomore RB Joshua Kelley ripped off a 55-yard kick return at Wyoming... It's the first time this year and third time in his one-plus seasons that he's brought one back at least that far... He's currently 29th in FCS with a 24.7 avg... Kelley averaged 34.7 yards on three returns last weekend.
• FS KELEEN CULBERSON's 21-yard fumble recovery for a TD was the Aggies' first defensive score since CB DELVIN ALEXANDER's 9-yard interception return for a TD at Northern Colorado on Oct. 17, 2015.
• UC Davis has allowed just four sacks in its three games, ranking it T-34th nationally... Its 1.67 pg. turnover ratio is ranked eighth.
• UC Davis is ranked 27th nationally in total offense (424.0) and 28th in scoring (34.0)... Conversely, they are 118th in total defense (549.7) and 108th in points allowed (44.3).
• The Aggies' turnover margin mentioned above has been a key so far, particularly when it comes to turnovers lost... They have just three (2 int., 1 fum)... And, the 5.7 avg. TFLs allowed to date is ranked second in the Big Sky behind only Cal Poly (3.67).
• Last season, UC Davis finished T-5th in red-zone efficiency... It's off to a good start in 2016, converting 10 of 11 (.909) chances with 9 TDs.
• Three starters who missed the Wyoming game with injuries are expected back this week: FB Derek Baljeu, LB Russell Reeder and DT Inoke Raikadroka... Additionally, QB Ben Scott, who left last week's game late with an injury, is also expected to play and is listed as the Aggies' starter.
• UC Davis and Weber State are tied 2-2 in their series which began in 2004... The Aggies won the lone matchup in Davis with a 37-13 victory in 2012... The Wildcats posted a 23-3 win in Ogden, Utah, last year.
• The Aggies have averaged 34.0 ppg., when they've won in the series but just 4.5 ppg. when Weber State took the victory.
• In their only matchup in Davis, former FB Dalton Turay rushed for three touchdowns in the second quarter (1, 5, 1 yds).
JONES WORKING HARD ON "D"
• Senior Zach Jones has been a safety his first three seasons but this year is starting at linebacker... His versatility has allowed him to play both spots and he's flourished with a team-high 18 tackles (10 solo), a PBU and team-best 2 forced fumbles.
BIG DAYS FOR VARGAS AND SCOTT
• WR Ramon Vargas became the first Aggie since WR TONY KAYS had 212 against Cal Poly in 2005 to record 200 receiving yards in a game, when he had six catches for 208 yards against Southern Oregon on Sept. 10.
• Vargas had a career-best 65-yard TD catch from QB Ben Scott in the third quarter and later had a 64-yard reception... His yards rank fourth all-time for a single-game in program history.
• Of course, the other half of those yards meant a big day for Scott, who threw for a career-high 381 yards (22-29-0) and four touchdowns.
• It was Scott's second straight 300-yard game (he had 303 at Oregon in the opener), marked the second time he's had back-to-back 300-yard games, and was the fourth one he's had overall.
• His previous best effort was against Montana State in 2014 during his first career start when he threw for 379 yards and four touchdowns.
HOT START FOR LUUGA
• RB Manusamoa Luuga drew plenty of attention against Wyoming last week, being held to just 26 yards on 13 carries... That came after a week when he needed just 13 carries to pick up a career-high 145 yards and score two touchdowns against Southern Oregon.
• Going into last week's game, Luuga was one of the hottest running backs in the country, picking up 241 yards on 35 attempts (6.9) avg... He scored three touchdowns in the second half at Oregon and then added two more against Southern Oregon.
• Despite being slowed at Wyoming, Luuga still ranks high nationally for rushing TDs (3rd, 5), rushing yards (26th, 267), rushing ypg. (38th, 89.0) and rushing yards/att. (40th, 5.6).
• His 100-yard game two weeks ago was the second of his career after he ended 2015 with 117 in the Causeway Classic against Sacramento State.
• Luuga's 5 TDs are just one off the six he had last year... He also has seven receptions for 106 yards after leading the Aggies with 51 catches a year ago.
FOUR PICKS AGAINST RAIDERS
• UC Davis ranked 122 out of 122 teams last year with just three interceptions for the entire season... It was part of a year in which the Aggies had just 11 takeaways.
• The Aggies are ranked 13th this season and are well on their way to matching last year's takeaway total with nine already.
• UC Davis last had four interceptions in a game in 2011 against San Diego... It's had three picks four times since then: vs. Weber State and Sacramento State in 2012, against Portland State in 2013 and versus Fort Lewis in 2014.
• Five UC Davis players - two each from the offense and specials teams, and one from the defense - were selected to the 2016 College Sports Madness Big Sky Preseason All-Conference third team.
SCHNEIDER CHANGES SIDES
• OL Christian Schneider made a home at right tackle over his first three seasons, including in 2013 as a true freshman... Since then, the 6-6, 315-pounder has started all but one game he's played (32 of 33).
• This season, Schneider jumps to the opposite side to play left tackle, taking over for graduated senior Parker Smith, who was moved there last year to replace 2014 senior Ian Joseph - a four-year starter.
WADMAN MAKING A NAME
• P Colby Wadman had big shoes to fill when school-record holder Colton Schmidt finished in 2012... Schmidt is now the punter for the Buffalo Bills... But, Wadman has done just fine, thank you, and is on his way to also becoming one of the program's all-time bests.
• He punted eight times in the opener this year for a 43.2 avg. and put 4 of 6 kicks inside the 20 against Southern Oregon... He's averaging 41.2 yards this year and has pinned five of his 18 kicks inside the 20... A third have been fair-caught.
• Through three seasons, Wadman is averaging 40.2 yards per kick and ranks third all-time.
• Wadman averaged 40.6 yards last season, had a best of 61 yards, kicked 13 over 50 yards, had 22 of 57 total result in fair catches and landed 17 inside the 20.
• Wadman was named All-Big Sky honorable mention as a sophomore in 2014.
• UC Davis was selected 13th by the head coaches and 12th by the media in the Big Sky's preseason polls released in July.
• Northern Arizona, which lost to UC Davis last season, was the pick by both the coaches and media to win the conference race this fall.
• No Aggies were selected to the 29-player Preseason All-Big Sky team.
HIGH GRADE FOR RECRUITS
• HEAD COACH Ron Gould was regarded as one of the nation's top recruiters during his long tenure at Cal and he's brought that prowess to UC Davis.
• His most recent recruiting class this past February was ranked No. 10 among all FCS and tops in the Big Sky by Saturday Blitz, and was No. 17 by Hero Sports (third in the Big Sky).
• Gould's 2014 class was comprised of 12 players rated two stars by Scout.com.
GETTING IT DONE IN THE CLASSROOM
• The Aggies posted an NCAA Academic Progress Rate of 981 to lead the Big Sky Conference for the fourth consecutive year... The distinction earned them an APR Award from the FCS Athletics Directors Association for the fourth straight year.
• UC Davis has increased its APR each year during the impressive run and owns the second-longest active streak of APR Awards. (Bryant University has won five straight).
• The APR measures student-athlete retention and eligibility and helps provide a real-time mark of classroom performance.
• The Aggies also had an NCAA graduation success rate of 83 percent in the most recent report, marking the second straight year they've led the Big Sky in that measurement as well... For the record, the entire UC Davis athletics program had a graduation rate of 88 percent... The program has led the Big West four straight years and seven of eight since reclassifying to Div. I in 2007-08.
RETURN OF Bob Foster
• Bob Foster doesn't need to look far to see his name at Aggie Stadium since it adorns the Bob Foster Team Center on the north end... It's a fitting tribute to a defensive genius who was a longtime assistant coach under legendary coach JIM SOCHOR before continuing the program's success during his four-year run as head coach (1989-92).
• Foster has retired and unretired several times since then, turning up on the coaching staffs at Oregon, Cal and Colorado... But, he's returned to his alma mater in 2016 because he just can't stay away from the sport he dearly loves.
• He was a consultant to the coaching staff during spring practices but is now back as a full-fledged assistant coach with the defense.
GOULD PRODUCES RBs
• Head coach Ron Gould turned out a bevy of outstanding running backs during his 16-year career as an assistant/associate head coach at Cal prior to joining UC Davis in 2012.
• His former players form a `who's who' of NFL standouts: Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Shane Vereen (N.Y. Giants), Justin Forsett (Baltimore) and C.J. Anderson (Denver)... FB Will Ta'ufo'ou was most recently with Jacksonville... Retired RB Jahvid Best (Detroit) was another outstanding Cal player.
• Gould brought his expertise to UC Davis where he's already turned out one of the Aggies' all-time best with former RB GABE MANZANARES who gained 2,116 career yards, was named the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year in 2014 and twice earned all-conference recognition in 2013-14.
• The last three Super Bowl winners have had a Gould-coached running back. (Lynch, Vereen, Anderson)
• JIM SOCHOR, the winningest coach (156 wins) in school history, helped spawn the careers of several notable current head coaches including CHRIS PETERSEN (Washington) and GARY PATTERSON (TCU) who were both on staff... Additionally, Petersen was a QB for UC Davis in the mid-1980s... Former coaches to move through the Aggies as players and/or coaches include MIKE BELLOTTI (Oregon), NICK ALIOTTI (Oregon def. coord.) and PAUL HACKETT (NFL, college).
• Hackett's son, Nathaniel, played for UC Davis from 1999-2002 before moving on to a successful coaching career as the offensive coordinator at Syracuse and the Buffalo Bills... He's currently the QB coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
ROOT FOR THE AGGIES AGAIN
• UC Davis will be featured on ROOT SPORTS for the fifth consecutive year as part of the DirecTV regional network's partnership with the Big Sky... In all, 10 league games will be showcased throughout the 2016 season.
• The Aggies will visit Eastern Washington (Oct. 1) and Montana State (Nov. 12) as part of the package... This is the first year since joining the Big Sky that UC Davis will not host a game that appears on ROOT Sports.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
• The Aggies request media properly refer to the school's name when referencing the university... The correct name is "UC Davis"... Please note the refreshing lack of hyphens and periods... "California-Davis", "Cal-Davis", "U.C. Davis", "UC-Davis" and similar combinations of letters and punctuation are also incorrect.
COMING UP NEXT
• UC Davis continues Big Sky Conference action when they hit the road for a 1 p.m. kickoff in Cheney, Wash., against Eastern Washington.
• The Aggies are winless in four games against the Eagles, including an 0-3 mark at EWU... UC Davis last played in Cheney in 2012, falling 31-28.
• It'll be the first of two straight road games for the Aggies who will also travel to Southern Utah.
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