UC DAVIS FOOTBALL GAME NOTES
Game 8: (RV/RV) Southern Utah (4-2, 3-0) at UC Davis (1-6, 1-3)
Sat., Oct. 24 4 p.m. KHTK (Sports 1140 AM) KDVS (90.3 FM) TV: None
Davis, Calif. Aggie Stadium (10,849)
Complete notes (PDF): UC Davis | Southern Utah | Big Sky
Gameday links: Audio | Video | Live Stats | Twitter (in-game updates/@ucdavisingame)
UC Davis returns home for its penultimate home game of the 2015 season, facing Southern Utah for the first time since 2013 and the 18th time overall.
The Aggies are 7-1 all-time against Southern Utah in Davis (6-0 at Toomey Field, 1-1 at Aggie Stadium)... They hold an 11-6 series record overall.
UC Davis and Southern Utah have been playing since 1993, encompassing their memberships in the former American West Conference and Great West Conference, as independents, and currently in the Big Sky.
The Thunderbirds enter the weekend with consecutive 44-0 Big Sky wins over Weber State and Sacramento State, and having outscored their last four opponents 163-10... They feature the No. 4 scoring defense (12.8 ppg), No. 3 pass efficiency defense (90.98 rtg.) and the No. 24 total defense (317.8 ypg).
Southern Utah is also the No. 1 FCS team in turnover margin (1.83) with 15 takeaways and just 4 giveaways (which include an FCS-leading 13 interceptions).
K Brady Stuart has moved into a share of the Aggies' career field goal record after making his 47th with a 21-yarder in the third quarter at Northern Colorado on Saturday... Stuart is tied with EDDIE LORETTO (1985-88), who has held the mark for nearly 30 years... Brady is 10 for 12 this season.
UC Davis held the ball for more than 40 minutes for the second consecutive week (42:45) after not having any game higher than 39:47 since 2007... The Aggies jumped to a 36:03 season average, ranking them No. 2 nationally.
Freshman RB Joshua Kelley, who had a 56-yard kickoff return at Northern Colorado and already has a 55-yarder this season (vs. Hawai'i), is now 14th in the FCS and fourth in the Big Sky with a 29.0 avg.
RB Manusamoa Luuga has three rushing touchdowns over the past two games, and four for the year... The junior has twice as many rushing attempts (116 to 56) as his closest teammate (Kelley) and has also leads the Aggies in receptions with 34.
The Aggies are among the national and Big Sky leaders on third down, both offensively and defensively, ranking 28th (.438) and 31st (.338), respectively... They're fourth in the conference in both stat categories.
UC Davis went 4 for 4 in the red-zone last week, making the Aggies 20 for 21 (.952) for the season (13 TDs, 7 FGs)... They're No. 4 in the country and continue to lead the Big Sky.
The Aggies picked up the first road win of head coach Ron Gould's tenure when it posted a 21-3 win at Cedar City in 2013... The Thunderbirds went on to the FCS playoffs that season.
RB Gabe Manzanares rushed for 175 yards and 2 TDs (16, 1 yds) while WR T.J. KING capped the scoring with a 19-yd TD from QB Randy Wright in the third quarter.
CB Dre Allen and CB Shamawn Wright each had interceptions while four players, including current DT Kyle DeVaughn, had sacks.
The defense held Southern Utah to just 45 rushing yards (2.2 avg.) and just 4 of 15 on third down.
It was the Aggies' first win in Cedar City since 2007 and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Thunderbirds.
NOTES FROM NO. COLORADO
QB Ben Scott was 20-26-1 passing for 142 yds before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with injury... Junior QB C.J. Spencer came in and threw his first career TD, a 12-yarder to WR ALEX CANNON with 51 ticks left... Spencer went 10-12-0 for 81 yards in his most extensive playing time as an Aggie so far.
Northern Colorado scored touchdowns on its first seven possessions and eight of its 10 overall (not including its game-ending series)... It punted once... The Aggies scored on five of their final six drives, including getting touchdowns on their final two.
UC Davis had four drives of at least 10 plays... Its final two totaled nearly 14 minutes, helping it amass a season-high 42:45 in the game.
S Delvin Alexander returned an interception nine yards for a touchdown, matching the Aggies' longest interception return of the season, giving UC Davis only its third of the year, and giving them their first pick-six since former LB Jordan Glass went seven yards against Montana State in 2012.
The Aggies went 10 of 18 on third down... The Bears faced just four third-down opportunities and made two.
UC Davis netted just 17.0 yards per punt... P Colby Wadman did have a long of 56 yards, however.
Led by 58 rushing yards from RB MITCHELL LAYTON and 50 from RB Joshua Kelley, the Aggies went over 100 yards for the third straight game.
STUART TIES KICKING RECORD
K Brady Stuart made a 21-yd field goal with 9:08 left in third quarter at Northern Colorado, pushing his career total to 47 and tying him with K EDDIE LORETTO (1985-88) who starred for the Aggies under former head coach JIM SOCHOR.
Stuart entered the game with 45 career FGs but also had a 19-yarder on the last play of the first half to bring him to within one... His kicks made him 10 of 12 for the year.
He had 15 FGs as a freshman in 2012, set a school record with 17 in 2013 and was limited to just five last year, but opened this year by making his first seven (10 straight going back to last year) before finally missing.
Stuart was an All-Big Sky third selection in 2013, is the active FCS leader in career field goals and is 19th among all active college kickers.
Stuart is also is ranked nationally in FG pct. (17th,.883) and FG/game (9th, 1.43) this season.
His season-long is 43 yards (vs. Montana) while his career-best is 47 (vs. Portland State, 2013)... Stuart is also third on the Aggies' career scoring list (252 points) after passing RB Preston Jackson (246, 1991-93) last week.
KELLEY MAKING A NAME
RB Joshua Kelley is making an impact as a true freshman in 2015... Besides averaging 4.6 yards per carry (56-272, 1 TD), Kelley is also been a key kickoff returner where he ranks 14th nationally with a 29.0 avg.
He has kickoff returns of 56 yards at Northern Colorado and 55 at Hawai'i... His 56-yarder is the longest on the team this season.
Kelly has 30 carries for 144 yards the last two games, including 20 for 94 against NAU... His 100.7 ypg. in all-purpose yards leads the team.
.... AND ADD LAYTON ALSO
RB MITCHELL LAYTON is another true freshman who has helped the Aggies' running attack gain traction... Layton had 12 carries for 62 yards against Montana and added 13 for 46 at Northern Colorado last weekend.
He's carried the ball 28 times for 150 yards this season - both third-best on the team - and has a season-long 14-yarder against Montana.
INTs HARD TO COME BY
The Aggies have just three interceptions this season, the most recent coming on DB Delvin Alexander's 9-yd pick-six against Northern Colorado last week.
UC Davis is currently on pace for its third straight season and fifth in the past six with less than 10... The Aggies had seven last year, its fewest since picking off six in 1980.
The defense, though, still has been tough against the pass this year, ranking 35th in the FCS and fourth in the Big Sky in passing yards allowed (192.3 ypg)... They're part of a defense that is in the top half of the Big Sky (6th) overall.
UC DAVIS ACHIEVES BALANCE
The Aggies have long been known as a passing program but always strive for balance... That is evident this year with the pass-run ratio currently at 51-49%.
Of 506 plays, 260 have been on the ground and 246 through the air... That emphasis on the ground has helped the Aggies hold the ball for more than 36 minutes a game.
UC Davis has had more running plays in four of seven games, including four of the past five... The streak was stopped by a slim margin at UNC last week (36 rush, 37 pass).
NAU WIN YIELDS HIGH MARKS
The Aggies seemed to turn the corner with its first-ever winning over Northern Arizona on Oct. 10, producing season-best marks for first downs (27), rushing yards (208), passing yards (289), total yards (497), plays (83), avg. yards per rush (4.3) and avg. yards per play (6.8).
UC Davis did not commit a turnover for the second time this season and held NAU to 2 of 13 on third down.
The Aggies also led after the first quarter (14-7) for the first time this season and enjoyed their largest lead (38-17) of the year.
FIRST HOMECOMING WIN...
The Aggies' 38-24 win over NAU was not only its first in four all-time games against the Lumberjacks but snapped a four-game homecoming losing streak.
Since beating UT-San Antonio, 38-17, in 2011, UC Davis had lost to Montana State (2012, 2014) and Montana (2013).
GRAHAM FORCING IT
S Darryl Graham has been a force, literally, on defense by forcing two fumbles that the Aggies have recovered... He ranks 60th in the FCS.
He forced a fumble against Montana inside the 5-yd line before coming back the next week to jar another one loose while stopping NAU QB CASE COOKUS after a 7-yd gain.
Graham, just a sophomore, leads UC Davis in total tackles (38), solo tackles (29), tackles in a game (10 vs. North Dakota), is tied for second with 3 PBUs and has an interception.
NOT PLAYING FLAG FOOTBALL
After 21 penalties for 176 yards over their first three games, the Aggies have responded with just 10 penalties for 95 over their last four.
That's helped them rank in the top 10 for fewest flags per game (8th, 4.43) and fewest yards per game (10th, 38.9)... UC Davis is also 18th for overall penalties (31) and 20th in penalty yards (272)... A big chunk of their totals came when they were penalized 10 times for 73 yards at Hawai'i.
MARTIN MAKING MOST OF IT
WR Chris Martin has caught 27 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns with his latter two numbers leading the team... All three, however, have already buried the 13 receptions for 117 yards and 1 TD he had over the first two years of his career.
Martin's 15.8average has been helped by two long TD receptions... He caught a 75-yarder from QB Ben Scott against South Dakota - the Aggies' longest since 2004 - and then had a 69-yard score at Hawai'i a week later, both of them eclipsing his previous long of 27 yards in 2013 at Idaho State.
Those two games featured back-to-back 100-yard efforts by Martin (121-USD, 123-UH).
The good news is UC Davis is one of the most efficient FCS teams in the red-zone, ranking fourth overall and first in the Big Sky at.952 while converting 20 of 21 opportunities.
The "not-so-good news" - and it's relative since they ARE picking up points - is the Aggies have had to settle for field goals seven times after staring at 1st-and-goal opportunities in five of seven games.
The tide turned against NAU with the Aggies capitalizing for scores on all three trips inside the 20, and all three resulting in TDs... That changed frustration over the first give games as described below:
NO. COLORADO - 1st down at 7 (2nd qtr). Key: No gains after 2nd at 2. Result: 19-yd FG by Brady Stuart... 1st down at 7 (3rd qtr). Key: Just 3 yds in 3 plays. Result: 21-yard FG by Stuart.
MONTANA - 1st down at 1. Key: no yards on 2 plays before QB Ben Scott was sacked by DE TYRONE HOLMES. Result: 20-yd FG by Brady Stuart.
NORTH DAKOTA - 1st down at 2. Key: 2 rushes for -1 yards, incomplete pass. Result: 19-yd FG by Stuart.
HAWAI'I - 1st down at 3. Key: Two rushes for -2 yds, incomplete pass. Result: 21-yd FG by Stuart... 1st down at 6. Key: delay of game penalty. Result: 27-yd FG by Stuart.
NEVADA - 1st down at 4. Key: false start penalty. Result: 26-yd FG by Stuart.
On the flipside, UC Davis is ranked 120th (.935; 29 of 31 att.) in red-zone defense.
INJURY BUG BITES AGGIES
UC Davis skated through fall camp with minimal injury concerns and looked good through two games... But, how have times changed.
Five starters have been sidelined the last five games... CB Shamawn Wright and his replacement CB Isiah Olave have gone down; S Keleen Culberson and LB Ryan Bua have joined them... Key reserve LB Artice Nelson has also been sidelined... On the offensive side, TE Zach Boman and reserve RB Justin Williams have each missed the last two games... WR ALEX CANNON was a late scratch against Montana but returned for a big game (3 rec., 43 yds) against NAU.
NCAA STAT LEADERS
Individual top 50:
K Brady Stuart - FG%: 17th (.883); FG/gm: 9th (1.43).
QB Ben Scott - Comp.%: 27th (.629); Comp./gm: 23rd (20.1); Passing TDs: 24th (11); Passing yds: 21st (1,525 yds); Passing ypg: 36th (217.9); Pts. resp. for/gm: 59th (10.3); Passing eff.: 130.1 (45th)
DE Walter Earnest - Fum. recovered: T-42nd (1).
LB Xavier Griggs - Fum. recovered: T-42nd (1).
DT Kyle DeVaughn - Fum. recovered: T-42nd (1).
RB Joshua Kelley - Kick Ret.: 14th (29.0); Combined kicks: 41st (348 yds).
WR Chris Martin - Rec. yds: 49th (426); Rec. TDs: 21st (5).
Team top 40:
Passing yds. allowed: 35th (192.3)
3rd down conv.: 28th (.438)
3rd down defense: 31st (.338)
4th down def.: 34th (.417)
Time of possession: 2nd (36:03)
Completion pct.: 19th (.641)
Fewest penalties: 18th (31)
Fewest penalties/game: 8th (4.43)
Fewest penalty ypg.: 10th (38.9)
Red-zone offense: 4th (.952)
First downs: 19th (142)
Blocked kicks allowed: 35th (1)
OL Parker Smith and SS Keleen Culberson will serve as team captains during the 2015 season... It is each of their first years serving in the leadership role.
With Culberson injured, three other players are serving the role with Parker each game...Captains joining Smith for the Southern Utah game have not been announced yet.
STAFF PHOTO GETS NEW SMILES
Head coach Ron Gould welcomed three new faces to the coaching staff photo and five new smiles overall with the addition of WES NURSE (cornerbacks), JIM CHAPIN (running backs) and David Braun (def. line) during the winter.
Nurse was on the Aggie staff in 2011 before leaving and returning, Chapin was most recently at Indiana Univ. (Pennsylvania), and Braun spent the last four years at his alma mater of Winona State (Minn.).
Also joining the Aggies are Matt Ulrich (def. quality control) and Darren Ervin (spec. teams quality control; dir. of player personnel).
NEW STADIUM TURF
Aggie Stadium opened for business in 2007 and has new artificial turf for the first time since... Shaw Sports Turf was installed over the summer, providing a marked difference to the FieldTurf that preceded it.
Most notably, the new turf is 3/4-inch shorter (2" vs. 2.75") while the turf inlay is equal parts sand and rubber, compared to the all-rubber inlay previously.
Visually, the turf alternates shades of green every five yards, except for a 10-yard stretch of dark green at midfield that serves as the background for the traditional Mustang C logo.
The endzones are blue with "Vegas gold" lettering... The campus' official UC Davis wordmark is in the south endzone while "Aggies" is in the north.
The 105,000-square foot playing surface, which is also home to the Aggies' women's lacrosse team and features its playing lines, was installed by ProSpectra Contract Flooring and was funded through the Facilities And Campus Enhancement Initiative (F.A.C.E.) passed by undergraduates in 1999.
The Aggies posted an NCAA Academic Progress Rate of 974 to lead the Big Sky Conference for the third consecutive year... The distinction earned them an APR Award from the FCS Athletics Directors Assocition for the third straight year as well.
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 four straight).
The APR measures student-athlete retention and eligibility and helps provide a real-time mark of classroom performance.
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.
Currently, his former players form a `who's who' of NFL standouts: Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Shane Vereen (New York 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.
ARP CONTINUES GAME STREAK
Fred Arp coached the defensive line at UC Davis from 1967-2007, becoming not only one of the most beloved Aggie coaches in school history, but turned out some of the best players the program has ever seen.
The purveyor of "Club Fred" - as his players called their position group - only missed one game as a coach and that was for the birth of his son, Ben.
Otherwise, Arp was perfect on the sidelines and that streak continues to this day... Saturday marks his 428th consecutive Aggie game that he's attended.
Arp was also a winner of the AFCA Div. II Assistant Coach of the Year Award.
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.
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.
Did we say `thank you'? Consider it said.
AGGIES REACH 500TH WIN
UC Davis picked up an elusive victory when it downed NAU on Oct. 10, giving it 500 in the 100-year history of the program. The Aggies had been stuck on 499 since beating Cal Poly in the 10th game of last season, a span covering six games.
UC Davis did not play games in 1918 or from 1943-45 and have used 16 head coaches to amass those wins... JACK GLASCOCK (1-2; 1917) has the fewest while JIM SOCHOR (156-41-5) has the most.
The Aggies are 500-395-33 (.556) all-time.
Some notable streaks have been associated with the UC Davis football program through the years:
37 - Consecutive winning seasons from 1970-2006... The first 35 came when the Aggies were officially playing as a Div. II program and still stands as the Div. II record.
20 - Consecutive years (1971-1993) of either winning outright or sharing a conference championship during UC Davis' tenure in the Far Western Conference, Northern California Athletic Conference and American West Conference.
442 - Consecutive games from 1969-2010 that the Aggies had at least 200 yards of total offense.
AGGIES, ROTC FORM BOND
UC Davis players carry an American flag and an axe (for special teams player of the week) when entering the field... They also a flag representing the Forged Gold Battalion ROTC at UC Davis.
The ROTC and the Aggies formed a bond during the preseason when they combined for leadership "boot camp" on Sunday, Aug. 9.
The players had been told they'd have Sundays off during preseason camp but were then told the night of Aug. 8 to report to Toomey Field at 5 a.m. the next morning... It was there that they learned and experienced the dedication and leadership of the Army ROTC.
The Aggies embark on their only bye week of the season... They had two in 2014.
Football crosses Causeway for annual rivalry game
Dr. Jeremiah Ray: Two Decades Later
Doss sets new single-season record in home finale
at Sacramento State (2 p.m.)