Teams: UC Davis vs. Southern Utah
Records: Aggies, 2-4; Thunderbirds, 3-3
Where: Aggie Stadium
When: Saturday at 6 p.m.
Who to watch: Jeremy Scott has yet to register an interception this season, but doing so this week would only be fitting.
In the fourth quarter of last year’s matchup with Southern Utah, the cornerback out of Mira Mesa High picked off his first pass of the season and returned it for a 38-yard touchdown. Scott currently leads the team with five pass breakups.
Did you know? This time last year, Demario Warren was helping the Aggies move the ball against Southern Utah.
On Saturday, he’ll be looking to stop them.
Warren, a UC Davis running back from 2003 to 2007 who graduated in the spring with a degree in African American studies, is in his first year as the Thunderbirds‘ secondary coach.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” head coach Bob Biggs said. “Demario is one of the greatest folks who have ever played here. He’s just a great human being.… I’ll spend a lot of time with him [on Saturday] before the game.“
Preview: A week after defeating Northern Colorado on Bakari Grant’s thrilling final-play Hail Mary reception, UC Davis will look to keep the excitement alive on Saturday in front of its Homecoming crowd.
To do so, the Aggies will have to slow down an upstart Southern Utah program. After losing 19 straight games, the Thunderbirds have won three of their last five, including two straight.
A major reason for the program’s turnaround is an adjustment made after its second game of season. Southern Utah was stomped 46-10 by Montana and afterward switched its defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a flex.
Since then, the Thunderbirds nearly upset No. 17 Northern Arizona, 19-14, and have defeated Texas State, 34-20. In last week’s 14-7 victory over Youngtown State, the defense was at its finest, tallying three sacks, 10 tackles for loss, an interception, and a fumble recovery for the game-winning touchdown.
On the season, the Southern Utah defense ranks fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision with 15 forced turnovers.
“I think they’re a good football team,” Biggs said. “Since that [Montana] game, they’ve been playing very well. I think they’re going to be a tough opponent.“
Offensively, Southern Utah is still a work in progress. Of the 118 teams in the FCS, it has the 112th-ranked offense.
The Thunderbirds are averaging only 65.0 rushing yards per game and just 2.3 yards per carry. Cody Stone, a senior from Bakersfield, is in his first full year as the starting quarterback. He has completed 43.9 percent of his throws and averages 180.0 passing yards per contest.