Bears Football Heads To Sacramento State On Saturday
Oct. 25, 2006
Game No. 8 * Northern Colorado (1-6, 0-4 Big Sky)
at Sacramento State (2-5, 2-3 Big Sky)
Saturday, Oct. 28 * 7:05 p.m. MT * Hornet Stadium (21,195)
• The University of Northern Colorado football team returns from a bye week and will take on Sacramento State at 7:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, Oct. 28, at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento. Northern Colorado is coming off a 34-0 loss to Eastern Washington on Oct. 14. Northern Colorado is led by first-year head coach Scott Downing, who spent time as an assistant at Wyoming, Purdue and Nebraska. Sacramento State is coached by Steve Mooshagian, who is 9-33 in his fourth season. It is the first meeting between both teams. The game will also be broadcast live on 1310-AM KFKA in Greeley and 1510-AM KYOL in Denver. Troy Coverdale serves as the play-by-play commentator and Chris Ott handles color analysis. The broadcast on KFKA begins with the pregame show at 6:05 p.m.
• Northern Colorado is 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the Big Sky Conference this season. The Bears have struggled against BSC opponents this year, being outscored 146-37. Northern Colorado has been able to hold the ball longer, however, holding the time possession advantage by 1:56.
• Sacramento State is 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big Sky Conference this season. The Hornets have shown considerable improvement in the BSC, starting the season with a 2-1 conference record with wins over Eastern Washington and Weber State. However, the Hornets are on a two-game losing streak, with a close 21-18 loss to Montana State and a 39-22 loss to Northern Arizona last week.
GAME SEVEN RECAP
• Junior punter Rafael Mendoza continued his couragious return to the football field with the best game of his career. Mendoza punted the ball 10 times (one off the Bears record) for a 47.8 yard average, four punts inside the 20, three punts over 50 yards and a long of 75 yards (five yards off the Bears record).
• Redshirt freshman quarterback Brian Wiedeman struggled in his first career start, going 8-of-18 for 48 yards and three interceptions. Junior quarterback Dominic Breazeale also saw action but didn't fare any better, finishing 0-for-5.
• Senior running back Andre Wilson rushed the ball 21 times for 97 yards (4.6 average).
• The Bears were plagued again by turnovers, committing a total of four (three interceptions and a fumble).
• Northern Colorado was shut out for the first time this season. It was the team's first shutout since a 44-0 loss to North Dakota State last season. The Bears' 169 yards of total offense was also their lowest output this season. It was the second time this season they were held under 200 yards of total offense, with the previous time being against Portland State on Sept. 9 (186 yards).
• Although the Bears are usually not known for committing a high number of penalties, they had a season-high 10 penalties for 99 yards against Eastern Washington. The Eagles had 12 for 107 yards.
• Northern Colorado trailed in time of possession for the first time in four games, falling behind by 1:28.
• Redshirt freshman linebacker Thomas Bauer recorded a season-high seven tackles and had a sack.
• Sophomore linebacker Casey Herron tallied a career-high seven tackles.
• Freshman defensive back Korey Askew snagged his first career interception and returned it for 27 yards. He also had a season-high four tackles.
• Northern Colorado dropped to 1-3 all-time against Eastern Washington.
• The Bears sustained their worst loss at Nottingham Field and first shutout at home since 1978, when Northern Colorado lost 14-0 to Nebraska-Omaha.
GOING BACK TO CALI
• The Bears have not fared well against teams from California, compiling an all-time record of 3-10. Two of those teams are Cal Poly and UC Davis (former Great West Football Conference foes), who the Bears are 3-8 against. Sacramento State is 31-52 against those teams.
• The Big Sky Conference is known as one of the toughest conferences in I-AA football, and Sacramento State knows that as well as anyone. In their first season of the BSC, they went 0-8 and 1-10 overall (1996). In fact, the only year they finished with an above .500 record was 2000, when they finished with a 5-3 record.
EALY BREAKS RUNNING BACK RECORD
• Sophomore running back Patrick Ealy currently leads the team in receptions with 37, which breaks a Northern Colorado record for most catches by a running back in a season. The last time a running back finished the season leading the team in receptions was 1996, when Billy Holmes pulled in 34 catches.
BALL CONTROL OFFENSE
• Although they are 1-6 this season, Northern Colorado has held the ball longer than its opponents in four games this season. In those four games (Texas State, Western Illinois and Weber State), the Bears have held the ball for an average of 32:29 compared to 28:16.
WINNING THE PENALTY BATTLE
• Northern Colorado has been down some statistical categories this season, but penalties is not one of the them. The Bears have committed 34 penalties for 266 yards, while their opponents have had 58 penalties for 495 yards. Eastern Washington comes into the game with 36 penalties for 302 yards.
MENDOZA MAKES HIS VALIANT RETURN
• Junior punter Rafael Mendoza made his return to the playing field just two weeks after encountering a stab wound to his kicking leg. Mendoza had a season-long 58-yard punt against Western Illinois and finished with a 38.9 average and one inside the 20.
WILSON MOVES TO FOURTH PLACE ON NC RUSHING LIST
• After rushing for 62 yards against Texas State, senior running back Andre Wilson moved to fourth place all-time on the Northern Colorado career rushing list. Wilson's 49 yards against Idaho State moved him to within 141 yards of third place.
WEST GRABS FIRST BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR
• Senior defensive Matt West was named the Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday, Sept. 18, for his performance against Texas State last Saturday. West scored Northern Colorado's game-winning touchdown when he scooped up a blocked punt and returned it five yards to the end zone. It was the Bears' first conference player of the week honors in the Big Sky.
• The Bears' game against Texas State on Sept. 16 marked the first time Northern Colorado has not committed any turnovers this season. In the Bears' previous two games, they had turned the ball over nine times, resulting in 59 points for their opponents. Northern Colorado forced two turnovers against Texas State, marking the first time this season they had a positive turnover margin.
NOT IN BAD COMPANY
• Although head coach Scott Downing lost his first game at the helm of the Bears, he's not in bad company. Legendary coach Bob Blasi, who has the most victories in Northern Colorado history with 107, lost his very first game as head coach of the Bears in 1966 in a 27-12 loss to South Dakota. Blasi, a member of the Northern Colorado Athletics Hall of Fame, led the Bears to six conference championships in his 19 years.
• Senior running back Andre Wilson will look to become the No. 1 rusher in Northern Colorado history this season. He needs only 405 yards to pass Billy Holmes' mark of 3,519. After his performance against Texas State, he moved up to No. 4 on the all-time Bears rushing list. In order to pass Billy Holmes, Wilson needs to average 101.25 yards per game in the last four games.
• Along with senior safety Matt Thomas, Wilson was named a team captain for the 2006 season.
BIG SKY'S NEW BEAR
• Northern Colorado officially joins the I-AA powerhouse Big Sky Conference this year and in 2007 will be eligible for the conference title and postseason play. The move makes the Big Sky a nine-team league. It is the first time since 1996 that the Big Sky has had nine teams. That year, Boise State and Idaho left for the Western Athletic Conference, while Portland State, Sacramento State and Cal State-Northridge joined. Cal State-Northridge left in 2001 after dropping its football program.
BEARS ON THE TUBE
• Northern Colorado will be featured on television five times this season. The first occasion will be against Weber State in Ogden, Utah, on Thursday, Sept. 28 in a marquee ESPNU matchup. The game will kickoff at 6:35 p.m. On Oct. 7 at 1:35 p.m., the Bears will be featured on Altitude in a home game against Idaho State. The following weekend at 1:35 p.m. on Oct. 14 against Eastern Washington on Homecoming Weekend will also air on Altitude. The final game televised will be the Hall of Fame Game against Montana at 12:05 p.m. on Nov. 11 at Nottingham Field. It will be aired by Montana station K-PAX.
• All home and conference games will be featured on BigSkyTV.org, which is a web site that streams video for football, men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball. All games taking place in a Big Sky venue will be available. For $59, fans can watch all Northern Colorado events for the year. To watch all conference events for the year, it costs $99.
HOW NC FARED IN BIG SKY POLLS
• The Bears were chosen by both the media and coaches to finish ninth in the Big Sky Conference. Montana was chosen by both the media and coaches to win the conference.
• Head coach Scott Downing has instilled many new traditions this season, and one of them is playing maestro. After every home victory, the Bears will go directly to the band and lead the playing of the fight song.
IN A NEW SKIN
• The Bears showed off their new uniforms designed by New Balance on Media Day, Aug. 19. The home uniforms will be blue with big, white number and gold and white sleeve stripes. They will also have the traditional gold pants. The road uniforms will have blue numbers and blue and gold sleeve stripes. The Bears will also be wearing blue pants, which is believed to be the first time they have done so in the program's history.
Andy Birkel OUT FOR SEASON
• Andy Birkel has been out of practice since encountered season-ending knee injury in a scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 19. Birkel had surgery on Wednesday, Sept. 6 to fix the damage and will begin rehabilitation soon. He is hoping to be back in time for spring practice.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
• This year's Bears team will be stacked with youth. There are 54 underclassmen compared to 27 upperclassmen. • 22 True Freshmen • 15 Redshirt Freshmen • 17 Sophomores • 11 Juniors • 16 Seniors • Many of the seniors on this season's squad have seen every level of Northern Colorado transition to Division I. For the fifth-year seniors, it is the fourth conference situation they have been in. In 2002, the Bears were in the Division II North Central Conference. In 2003, the Bears were a I-AA Independent. In 2004 and 2005, Northern Colorado was in the Great West Football Conference. And this year, the Bears are in the Big Sky.
DYCHES DECLARED ELIGIBLE BY THE NCAA
• Senior placekicker David Dyches was declared eligible to compete in 2006 by the NCAA on Friday, Aug. 25. He had encountered transfer roadblocks after enrolling at Nebraska last spring and transferring to Northern Colorado this fall. The Northern Colorado Administration filed a waiver, and it was approved. Dyches was a Freshman All-American at Nebraska, tying the Huskers freshman record on field goals with 14 in 2003. It tied current Seattle Seahawks kicker Josh Brown. Dyches is currently listed as No. 1 on the depth chart.
2006 SCHEDULE TOUGHEST IN BEARS' I-AA HISTORY
• This season's schedule could prove to be the toughest in Bears' I-AA history. Four of the teams (No. 21 UC Davis, No. 18 Texas State, No. 22 Montana State, No. 3 Montana) were ranked in the preseason by The Sports Network. Eight of the teams received votes or are ranked in various preseason publications and web sites, including Portland State (No. 25 in Lindy's), Weber State, Idaho State (No. 23 by the SportsNetwork.com) and Eastern Washington (No. 23 by AnyGivenSaturday.com).
THE NOTTINGHAM SHERIFFS
• Northern Colorado has been close to unstoppable at Nottingham Field in its 11-year history, compiling a 56-14 overall record and a 37-8 conference record. The Bears went 4-1 at home last season, with the only downfall being a 31-14 to 2005 I-AA semifinalist Cal Poly. The Bears' only sub-.500 season at Nottingham came in 2004, when they went 2-4.
• Built in 1995 for a cost of $4 million, the field is named after Vic Nottingham, who is a local businessman, alum and longtime booster. He was the co-chair of the committee that successfully raised funds for the stadium.
DOWNING TO BE FEATURED ON NEW CALL-IN RADIO SHOW
• Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. during the football season, head coach Scott Downing will be featured on the Coors Light Northern Colorado Coaches Show on 1310-AM KFKA. This season, the format has been changed to a live, in-studio call-in show and will run for an hour. Fans can call in at (970) 353-1310 or 1-888-353-1310. They can also e-mail questions to email@example.com.
DOWNING NAMES 2006 CAPTAINS
• Head coach Scott Downing named the 2006 captains on Saturday, Aug. 26. Senior safety Matt Thomas and senior running back Andre Wilson will lead the Bears through the tunnel.
BEARS ADD I-A TRANSFER Robert Long FROM ARIZONA
• Senior transfer wide receiver Robert Long joined the Bears last week after clearing up transfer requirements. Long was on the scout team at the University of Arizona and also played at De Anza Community College in Cupertino, Calif.
SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE
• The Hornets have had a tough time putting points on the board, as they are seventh in the Big Sky with 15.6 per game. They are also last in passing offense with just over 136 yards per game. The Hornets are also last in the conference in rushing with just under 85 yards per game. Sacramento State has made for it, however, with stellar play on the other side of the ball in its two wins this season. In their 21-20 win over Eastern Washington, the Hornets allowed 465 yards of total offense but forced three interceptions. In their 24-21 win over Weber State, the Hornets held the Wildcats to 253 total yards and forced four interceptions.
SACRAMENTO STATE'S STEVE MOOSHAGIAN
• Hornets head coach Steve Mooshagian is 9-31 in his fourth season. At Sacramento State, Mooshagian has coach three I-AA All-Americans, three I-AA Freshman All-Americans and 37 All-Big Sky Conference selections. Prior to coaching at Sacramento State, he was a receivers coach with the Cincinnati Bengals for four seasons and was the offensive coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh from 1997-98. Mooshagian played two years in college at Fresno State, then signed as a free-agent wide receiver with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL. He graduated with a degree in physical education from Fresno State in 1982 and later added a master's degree. He and his wife, Renee, have three children. His son Bobby (20), is a sophomore wide receiver with the Hornets.