UC Davis (1-4, 0-2) at Southern Utah (2-2, 1-1)
Saturday, October 8, 2016 • 5 p.m. (PDT)
Eccles Coliseum (8,500) • Cedar City, Utah
• The Aggies play their second straight game on the road – the only time it’ll happen this season – when they make their first trip since 2013 to Cedar City to face Southern Utah.
• The Thunderbirds are defending Big Sky champions and are under the direction of first-year head coach DEMARIO WARREN, a former running back for UC Davis from 2005-07.
• Southern Utah is the fourth Aggie opponent this year that has either been ranked or receiving votes in a national poll at some level of college football.
• The Aggies have been effective in the red-zone, capitalizing on 14 consecutive trips to score 91 points... They’re ranked 18th in the FCS and have converted 17 of 18 trips (.944).
• RB JOSHUA KELLEY’s 58-yard TD run at Eastern Washington was his third play of least 55 yards this season. (91-yd TD kick return vs. Weber State; 55-yard kick return at Wyoming)... His 26.1 return average is ranked third in the Big Sky and 25th in the FCS.
• The Aggies’ 247 rushing yards are a season-high (226 vs. So. Oregon) and are their most since gaining 266 versus Sacramento State in 2014.
• RB Manusamoa Luuga picked up two more rushing touchdowns last week, has seven for the year, leads the Big Sky and is ranked sixth nationally.
• Luuga’s career-best 160 rushing yards against the Eagles marked his second 100-yard game of the year and the third of his career.
• UC Davis enjoyed its best quarter of the season during the second period at EWU... The Aggies scored 23 unanswered points – it’s most in a quarter since tallying 24 in the third vs. Montana State in 2012 – while holding the ball for 12:01... The defense also forced a safety and held the Eagles to just six total yards.
• The Aggies lost the turnover battle (3-1) for the first time this year but are still among the FCS leaders in turnover margin (24th, 0.8 pg).
• LB ZACH JONES’ season-high 10 tackles last week marked the fourth time in his career he’s at least that many... His career-high was 14 in the 2014 Causeway Classic... Jones leads UC Davis with 32 stops this season, including 23 solo... He’s also forced three fumbles and ranks T-7th nationally and T-1st in the Big Sky in that stat.
• QB Ben Scott is ranked among the top 40 players in eight FCS statistical categories, including passing yards (1,298), where he is 12th.
• UC DAVIS is ranked 25th in the FCS in scoring (33.4 ppg.) and 34th in total offense (413.4 ypg.) but is trying to improve its defensive numbers: scoring (119th, 46.8) and yards (121st, 547.8).
• UC Davis holds an 11-7 all-time series lead over Southern Utah but has lost four of the past five meetings, including a 34-6 matchup at Aggie Stadium last year.
• The teams started playing as members of the former American West Conference (1993), continued as independents (1994-2003) and as members in the Great West Conference (2004-11), and are still going strong in the Big Sky.
• UC Davis is 4-5 in Cedar City but won the last meeting there in 2013, 21-3.
• The losing team has not scored more than six points the last three meetings after not scoring less than 21 in the previous four.
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.
LUUGA PICKS UP 3RD 100-YD GAME
• RB Manusamoa Luuga ran for a career-high 160 yards on a season-high tying 22 carries at Eastern Washington last week... It was his second 100-yard game of the year and third of his career.
• Luuga is ranked among the FCS leaders in the following: all-purpose ypg (37th, 125.0); rush yds/att. (39th, 5.5); rush TDs (6th, 7); rushing yds (13th, 485); rushing ypg. (22nd, 97.0); scoring (17th, 9.6 ppg.).
• His 88 carries are 58 more than RB Joshua Kelley, who’s next on the list with 30.
RUSHING ATTACK SEES PROGRESS
• When the Aggies go over 100 rushing yards for a game this season, they go way over.
• UC Davis rushed for 247 yards (6.7 avg.) against Eastern Washington last week, the second time this year they’ve gone over 200 after gaining 226 (7.3 avg.) versus Southern Oregon earlier... Those are the only two times they’ve eclipsed 100 yards.
• The Aggies haven’t averaged more than 3.8 yards per carry in the three other games but with the two big performances, have pushed their ypg. average to 146.8... They’re looking to beat their best season under head coach Ron Gould of 152.3 ypg. in 2013.
BIG PLAY Joshua Kelley
• RB Joshua Kelley has wasted little time in establishing himself as a big-play threat as both a running back and a kick returner, having already posted six plays in two years of at least 40 yards.
• Named All-Big Sky honorable mention as a kick returner last year, Kelley has continued his prowess in that area, averaging 26.1 yards per return in 2016... He ranks third in the conference and 25th nationally.
• His 91-yard TD return against Weber State is T-12th in the FCS this year while his 58-yard TD run at Eastern Washington is a career-best and second-longest on the team this year.
ARP CONTINUES GAME STREAK
• Fred Arp was an assistant coach with the Aggies for more than 40 years before retiring at the end of the 2007 season... His accomplishments as defensive line coach and his reverance from the players he coached helped lead to his eventual enshrinement in the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame.
• He only missed one game as an assistant coach (for the birth of his son Ben) but otherwise has seen every Aggie game before and after his retirement... This week’s game at Southern Utah will mark th 437th consecutive UC Davis game he has witnessed... Now, THAT’s a streak.
DOSS TWICE PAST CENTURY MARK
• WR Keelan Doss already has a pair of 100-yard receiving games this season, picking up career-high 116 yards against Oregon in the season opener and then adding 104 at Wyoming two weeks later... Both came on seven catches.
• Combined with WR RAMON VARGAS’ 208-yard effort against Southern Oregon, Doss’ exploits helped give UC Davis five straight 100-yard games dating back to last season.
• Doss is a redshirt sophomore after missing last season with injury but is showing why he was a dangerous target (22-325, 2 TDs, long of 70) as a true freshman in 2014... He leads UC Davis with 28 catches for 387 yards and 4 TDs this season... Doss has 17 more grabs than the next closest Aggies.
• He’s ranked among the top 50 FCS players in rec. TDs (23rd, 4), rec. yds. (34th, 387), rec. ypg. (47, 77.4) and rec/gm (45, 5.6).
BAUMGART, PETTIT HELPING D-LINE
• DE Anthony Baumgart and DE Zak Pettit have been mainstays and big contributors on a defensive line that has been bitten by the injury bug a bit... Neither has missed a game.
• Baumgart, a sophomore from nearby Antelope, did not record any stats during his first year of playing in 2015 but has vaulted to the No. 2 spot on the current tackles list with 24, including 16 solo.
• He’s posted a season-high eight against Southern Oregon, the same game he grabbed a tipped pass for his first career pick (and one of the Aggies’ four in the game)... He returned it 15 yards...Baumgart also has 2 TFLs.
• Pettit, a senior from Truckee, continues to be a key cog on the defensive line as evidenced by his team-high 5.5 TFLs for 17 yards in losses, his team-best two quarterback-hurries, and his forced fumble and fumble recovery.
• He has 14.5 TFLs in his career and entered the year with 6.5 sacks... Pettit recorded 3 TFLs for 14 yards against Wyoming in September and has had at least a share of a TFL in four of the Aggies’ five games.
LEOTA JUMPS OVER LINE TO LB
• Christian Leota was recruited to UC Davis as a quarterback and spent last year honing his craft there... But, he’s moved over to the other side of the line where he is a linebacker and special teams standout.
• The result? How about 18 tackles (eighth-best on team), including a pair of TFLs.
UC DAVIS VS. THE FBS
• The Aggies faced two FBS teams this season for the third consecutive year, opening the year at No. 24 Oregon and then playing their first-ever game against Wyoming.
• UC Davis has a 2-17 (.125) record against FBS teams since 2005 with its two victories coming against Stanford (20-17) in 2005 and San Jose State (13-10) in 2010.
SCOTT, VARGAS BIG AGAINST SOU
• WR Ramon Vargas became the first Aggie since WR TONY KAYS had 212 receiving yards 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 first 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.
• 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.
RECRUITING CLASSES RANK HIGH
• 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.
NFL RBs FIND STARTS WITH GOULD
• 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)
COMING UP NEXT
• The Aggies return home for the first time since Sept. 24 when they host Northern Colorado in another Big Sky matchup... Kickoff for the homecoming game is 4 p.m.
• The Bears have won the last two games in the series, including a 56-27 victory in Greeley last season and a 27-21 matchup at Aggie Stadium in 2014.
• UC Davis will also honor its Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame 2016 Class, which will be formally inducted on Sunday during a brunch at the UC Davis Conference Center.
• Alum PAUL HACKETT, who coached prominently in both the college and professional ranks, will receive the Aggie Legacy Award for bringing prestige to the institution in an post-collegiate athletics capacity.