DAVIS, Calif. — Bob Biggs is in his 20th and final season as the head coach at UC Davis. Interim coach Jody Sears is in his first year at Weber State.
Both coaches are in the same situation today — their teams need a win.
Davis (1-3), which joined the Big Sky as a football-only affiliate in July, will be hosting its first-ever conference game when its kicks off against Weber State (0-4) today at 7 p.m. at Aggie Stadium.
UC Davis’ only win so far came against Division II Azusa Pacific; WSU has lost four straight to open the season for the first time since 2007.
Despite the slow start to the season, the need to taste victory today is no different for Weber State than any other game, Sears says.
“They all feel that way, to be honest with you,” Sears says. “I don’t treat one any different than the other. I’m not going to get into outcome-based theories or what ifs. That’s not the world I live in. You can’t coach in that world — ‘What if? What if?’
Like I always say, you’ve got to focus on the process, the things that you can control — our fundamentals, our leadership, which showed strong signs of emerging last weekend in the second half. That’s what we’re trying to build on.”
Davis has outscored opponents 17-0 in first quarters this season; not a dominating statistic but a concern for Weber State, which has not scored a first-quarter point or a first-half touchdown this season.
Weber State’s rally against EWU came up short when the Eagles forced quarterback Mike Hoke to fumble after the Wildcats fought back from a 20-3 halftime deficit.
The Wildcats will be playing their first game of the season against a team that is not either a FBS team or a Top 25 FCS program. They have been outscored 79-6 in first halves and have not played a complete game yet this season.
“It’s pretty frustrating, but you can’t coach in frustration. You can’t try to belittle guys to perform,” Sears said.
Instead, he’s trying to focus his team on consistency.
Hoke, the senior quarterback from Hawaii, crossed the 3,000 yard passing threshold last Saturday and ranks second among 3,000-yard passers in school history with a .617 completion percentage.
The Wildcats have had trouble getting on the board in first halves, but they’re a perfect 7 for 7 when reaching the red zone this year.
With the loss of Shaydon Kehano to injury, junior receiver Jordan Clemente is WSU’s leading receiver after moving back from the tight end position he played last season.
Clemente takes heart from Weber State’s comeback attempt that fell short on the final drive against Eastern Washington last Saturday.
“I think that second half really gave us the confidence to know what we can do, what we’re going to do, especially (today),” he said. “We just need to be smooth, do what we did the second half against Eastern Washington. That’s what we needed, especially against a good team like that, the No. 9 team in the nation. Playing that well against them shows how good we really are. Confidence is really what you need on offense, the confidence that you’ll make the plays and execute.”
A win would make all the difference for the Wildcats’ morale, Clemente said.
“That is exactly what we need, this win coming up. That will change everyone’s spirits around and give them confidence. I keep saying confidence, but that’s really what it is,” he said. “After this win, you’ll see a different football team.”
With five Big Sky teams from the expanded conference in the FCS Top 25 rankings, Weber State will have opportunities to make its case for inclusion in the playoffs, but no margin for error. By digging an 0-4 hole to begin the season, the Wildcats must win out to be playoff eligible.
They’re going to have to do it without linebacker Luke King, Weber State’s fourth-leading tackler, who is out for the season after having shoulder surgery on Thursday.
King will seek a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA to repeat his sophomore season.
Weber State has played Davis just twice, both times in Ogden, losing in 2004 and defeating the Aggies 20-9 on Homecoming in 2010.
Current Aggies quarterback Randy Wright completed 19 of 39 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
Wright recently reached a milestone of his own, going over the 5,000-yard passing mark.
Aggies receiver/return man Alex Davis ranks 15th in the country in kickoff return average (27.4 ypr).
• WSU NOTES: Park City native Tony Epperson continues to lead the nation in punting for Weber State, averaging 47.7 yards per punt. At safety, Epperson is also the Wildcats’ leading tackler (29.0). … WSU junior safety Willie Okwuonu suffered a concussion in last week’s game but is listed as probable for today. …
Biggs, who has been associated with UC Davis for 35 years and the head coach for 20 years, announced after last season that he would retire after this year.