Teams: UC Davis at No. 17 (FCS) University of South Dakota
Records: Aggies, 2-4 (0-0); Coyotes, 4-3 (1-0)
Where: DakotaDome – Vermillion, South Dakota
When: Saturday at 2 p.m.
Who to watch: Redshirt freshman running back Colton Silveria is making the most of his first season on the Aggies’ game-day roster.
The Redding, Calif. native leads the team in rushing with 262 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 43.7 yards per game.
“He’s got vision and good lateral quickness to go with good speed,” Head Coach Bob Biggs said. “He’s a complete back in that way.
“Colton’s one of those guys, as he gets more carries he seems to get better and better. He’s a durable back.”
Did you know? The Aggies have not won a road contest yet this year and have been outscored 142-42 in three attempts.
Preview: The UC Davis football team will head into a hostile environment Saturday in search of back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
This weekend’s matchup also marks the first Great West Conference game of the year for the Aggies, adding extra pressure.
“It’s real important to get the first [conference win] if you want any chance at a conference title,” Biggs said. “[South Dakota is] in a pretty good position right now, so we need to get this one.”
With each team in the Great West playing only four conference games, each matchup is of the utmost importance.
Offensively, the Aggies will look to build on their performance from last week in which they set multiple season highs, including rushing yards and total offense.
They also set a season high with 25 first downs, a big improvement over previous games’ production. The stat also points toward a more balanced offense, something the Aggies had been struggling to find early in the season.
“Fine tuning the execution [last week] allowed us to run the ball more,” Biggs said. “We didn’t break any long runs but were able to run the ball three, four, five yards. Their defense had to respect that and the pass play opened for us.
“The first downs are a sign of a team that’s not just relying on big plays but finding ways to move the chains.”
The UC Davis offense will need to maintain its balanced attack and stay out of third and long situations in order to keep the powerful South Dakota defensive line at bay. The Coyotes lead the conference with 23 sacks on the season, and keeping the ball moving downfield will be key to limiting the pressure on quarterback Randy Wright.
“We have to keep them off balance,” Biggs explained. “When they can pin their ears back and get up the field, they’re pretty good.
“We can’t allow them to do that.”
Defensively, the focus for the Aggies will be disrupting the run game and forcing South Dakota quarterback Dante Warren to make decisions on the fly.
“If we can disrupt his flow a little bit, his rhythm, that will give us a better chance to make some plays,” Biggs said. “If we’re able to stop their run and force them into a passing game, that’s not what they want [us] to do.”
Another challenge for the UC Davis Aggies will be the noise and unfamiliar playing surface of the DakotaDome. The small multi-stadium has an old Astroturf playing field, something rarely seen in football today and described by Biggs as hard and abrasive.
Additionally, the domed roof creates an extremely noisy atmosphere, something the Aggies will try to combat with silent cadence from Wright.
– Caelum Shove
Editor’s note: The initial run of this story incorrectly included the title: Homecoming Football Preview and several references to the Big West Conference. This week’s game is not homecoming, and UC Davis football competes in the Great West Conference, not the Big West. The Aggie regrets the errors.