Football Preview: UC Davis at UNC

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The University of Northern Colorado Bears football team will look for inspiration in homecoming week for its upcoming game. Maybe the festivities and distractions of homecoming will lift the Bears’ spirits.

There is also a distinct chance the Bears could continue their disappointing slump. From preseason hopes of being a household name in Big Sky to a now-stark reality that a winning season depends on running the table.

It would not be impossible to run the table if they had Aaron Rodgers and his daring athleticism and sheer luck, but they have neither.

The Bears just need to give the seniors some bright patches to look back on their last season. While many will say the season is over, they are vastly wrong.

The new identity of the Bears needs to be the spoiler team. The Bears have played a top-25 team or a team receiving votes in four of five weeks. While none of those turned in the upset headlines, the Bears still play some top-rated teams, including UC Davis.

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Homecoming will most likely not be the dominating game it was for the Bears in 2015. That year, the Bears beat UC Davis 56-27 on homecoming.

Overall, UC Davis leads the series 6-3 and is ranked No. 16 in the STATS FCS poll.

So far UC Davis has been representing the Big Sky well by going 3-1)with a win over San Jose State (FBS) 44-38 and their only loss coming against the No. 9 (FBS) Stanford Cardinal 30-10.

While the Bears are 0-5, they have played No. 6 Weber State, No. 9 McNeese State, and three teams receiving votes in South Dakota (162), North Dakota (65) and Sacramento State (23).

Minus the whooping from North Dakota, the Bears kept those losses close by having a pair of two-score losses and two three point losses with missed opportunities to win.

What to Expect

The UC Davis Aggies are a high-caliber offensive team, with possibly the No. 1 receiver in the FCS

Keelan Doss is projected to go high in next year’s NFL draft and this is his senior year, so he will be looking to improve his stock wherever possible.

Defensively, the Bears do not have the available resources to cover Doss well. Their best chance will be to double cover him with Sherand Boyd Jr. or Isiah Swopes and Michael Walker.

Double coverage can be dangerous, but in this case it will be necessary to limiting scoring chances from Doss. Jake Maier has shown he belongs in the top Big Sky quarterback conversation, but the rushing attack from Freshman Ulonzo Gilliam is not to be underestimated.

Offensively, the Bears need to get all of their quarterbacks ready to play at any moment since Keaton Mott was listed as questionable after last game by a frustrated Coach Earnest Collins.

Trae Riek finally found success rushing last week. If Riek and Milo Hall can be substantial rushers on the same week the Bears could fix their conversion, first downs, timeof possession and scoring problems all at once.

Whomever is named starting quarterback needs to be able to produce a diverse performance to have any chance at winning.

Throw the ball away when in trouble, step up in the pocket and throw, scramble without hesitation if necessary, keep a tight spiral and read the routes: Simple, isn’t it?.

If that seems like a lot to accomplish, the Bears need to find a starter who is not overwhelmed and is ready to do whatever it takes.

Big Sky Week 5 Recap

Eastern Washington went to Bozeman, Montana and showed up the Montana State Bobcats in a 34-17 win.

Idaho State put on an offensive clinic at home versus Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in a barn-burner win of 56-42.

Idaho received its first conference win since returning this year as a Big Sky team for the first time since 1995 against Portland State, 20-7.

Montana wrapped up the week by cruising past the Cal Poly Mustangs 48-28.

UC Davis did not play thisweek as they and Weber State had their byes.

Other Important FCS Games

  1. North Dakota State at. University of Northern Iowa
  2. Elon at James Madison
  3. Villanova at Maine
  4. Wofford at Chattanooga
  5. Dartmouth at Yale
  6. Stony Brook at Towson

The Mirror’s Keys to the Game

Defense:

  1. Stop Keelan Doss: Being regarded so high by NFL projections and scouts already, Doss will look to add to his resume against a “soft” defense. The Bears secondary needs to run some sprints and hit the weight room so they can dismantle Doss.
  2. Pass coverage: While the Bears will likely have to double cover Doss they should not give away any easy catches. The awareness of Sherand Boyd Jr. needs to be emulated by all three corners and safeties to be a ballhawk defense this week.
  3. Stop the run: While the defensive goals seem elementary this week, the truth is the Bears need to go back to the basics so they can effectively build off of that and move forward.

Offense:

University of Northern Colorado quarterback Keaton Mott throws as a Sacramento State defender closes in on him Sept. 15 at Nottingham Field in Greeley. Photo courtesy of uncbears.com
  1. Next man up: The whole offense CANNOT come to a screeching halt if the starter or backup are not fit for the job that week. Someone has to step up and show Collins they are willing to fight for every yard and get the job done.
  2. Run together: Milo Hall and Trae Riek may have different styles of running, but they are both high quality running backs. If they both perform high, rather than average, the Bears will have a formidable rushing attack.
  3. Will someone block please: Offensive line is the most unforgiving position to play in football, which is something one should know when signing up. If getting hit by full speed defenders, the first to be scrutinized and the last to be thanked, is not something that sounds manageable then maybe switch to defensive line since the Bears need someone to produce sacks there anyways.

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