Teams: UC Davis vs. University of Texas, San Antonio
Records: Aggies, 1-4; Roadrunners, 2-3
Where: Aggie Stadium
When: Saturday at 2 p.m.
Who to watch: Sophomore wide receiver Tom Hemmingsen is in the midst of a breakthrough season.
A starter in only two games last year, the Danville, Calif. native had the opportunity this season to establish himself as a permanent starter.
He has done that, and more.
Hemmingsen currently leads the Aggies with 289 yards and five touchdowns, while also averaging 7.8 yards per punt return.
Head Coach Bob Biggs likened his receiver to the New England Patriots’ Wes Welker, the NFL’s leading receiver renowned for his short stature. Listed at 5’10” on the teams official website, Hemmingsen admits that there may be some embellishment on the part of the athletics staff.
He’s really 5’9″, but nobody seems to care.
“Tom is a gutty competitor and he’s got a great pair of hands,” Biggs said. He’s a punt returner and he’s willing to catch a ball over the middle.
“He’s just a tough competitive guy. You can win with guys like that.”
Did you know? UC Davis and Texas, San Antonio were originally scheduled to play each other this year at Aggie Stadium, and next year at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
However, due to the Roadrunner’s recent announcement that they will join the Western Athletic Conference, a Football Bowl Subdivision conference, next season’s meeting has been cancelled.
It remains to be seen whether the Aggies and Roadrunners will ever face each other again after this Saturday.
Preview: For the Aggies, the first five games of the season were a learning experience. Now, after taking a few shots to the mouth, they’re ready to embrace the type of football team they are.
“Sometimes it takes getting knocked down to realize what your true identity is,” Biggs said.
“We haven’t shown the propensity to be a big-play offense or a big-play defense. We’re blue collar. We have to be good at the little details each and every week; that’s going to give us the edge.”
Against an athletic University of Texas, San Antonio team, the UC Davis defense will have to prove that they’ve mastered those little details.
“They run some options, they can throw the ball and they can run the power game,” Biggs said. “Trying to contain their speed with all of their misdirection and play action off the option is a real challenge for our defense.”
Junior captain Bobby Erskine agreed with his coach’s assessment, while also shedding light on the Aggies’ defensive plans regarding San Antonio’s Eric Soza, a duel threat quarterback who is the Roadrunner’s leading rusher as well as passer.
“They have a lot deception,” Erskine said. “It’s going to be a challenge for the defensive ends. We have to be patient, [and] sit on the line.
“[Soza] has put the ball on the deck a lot, so we’re gonna be trying to get the ball loose. If he wants to carry it, we’re ready to hit him.”
While the San Antonio quarterback has had problems with ball security, the Aggies should not expect to face a poorly coached team come Saturday. The Roadrunners are led by American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award-winner Larry Coker, a national champion as head coach of the 2001 Miami Hurricanes.
Still, details like that are of no interest to Coach Biggs.
“It’s a mindset,” explained the coach. “You have to come out every day. You have to impose your will.
“We’re at the point where we have to win. It doesn’t matter how, a win is a win.”
For all football news and updates, you can follow CAELUM SHOVE on twitter @CaAggieFootball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.