Teams: UC Davis at Portland State
Records: Aggies, 3-3; Vikings, 2-5
Where: PGE Park, Portland, Ore.
When: Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
Who to watch: The Vikings enter Saturday’s game ranked 112th in passing defense having allowed opponents to gain 273.3 yards per game through the air. Expect that ranking to drop a few pegs after Aggie quarterback Greg Denham is finished.
The Auburn, Calif. native has already passed for over 300 yards twice this year against Montana and South Dakota, teams that also had questionable pass defenses.
Denham has thrown 10 touchdowns and completed over 61 percent of his passes so far this season.
Did you know? Portland State is 6-3 all-time against UC Davis, but the Aggies have won the previous two meetings between the teams. Last season, the Aggies beat the Vikings 38-24 at Aggie Stadium on Sept. 13.
Preview: After their commanding 45-14 performance against Winston-Salem State last weekend, the Aggies are on the road again against Portland State. They will be trying to improve their record to above .500 for the first time since October of last year.
The odds are in the Aggies’ favor as the Vikings starting quarterback, Drew Hubel, is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game.
“They’re a different team offensively when [Hubel’s] in there,” said coach Bob Biggs. “Their offense is designed to throw the ball. If [backup quarterback Konor] Kavanaugh is playing, we’re going to expect them to run the zone option a little bit more.”
Hubel is averaging 301 passing yards per game this season while Kavanaugh has completed only 11 of 43 passes for 116 yards with two interceptions in relief duty.
In addition to their problems at quarterback, Portland State operates under coach Jerry Glanville’s “Run N Shoot” scheme, which often leaves the quarterback with just five blockers on the line of scrimmage. Look for the Aggies to exploit not only the Vikings’ lack of protection up front, but their inexperience as well.
“They’re capable of playing well,” Biggs said, “but they’re young on the offensive line. They’re still trying to figure out their blocking schemes.”
While the Aggies’ high-percentage passing offense should have success against the porous Vikings defense, UC Davis will also continue their season-long quest for a reliable running game.
“We’re making progress,” Biggs said. “We’re certainly not where we need to be given what the schedule looks like from here on out. We’re going to make it work some how, some way.”
Aggie running backs will certainly get their chance to improve their rushing numbers against Portland State, which is currently yielding 130 rushing yards per game.
– Richard Procter