Big Damm Preview: Game 2 – UC Davis vs. #19 Idaho 3/6/21

It was 1995 the last time Idaho football was ranked in a poll, ranked 17th in their final week before moving to the FBS. This week, the 19th-ranked Idaho Vandals host the UC Davis Aggies, led by Dan Hawkins, the former Riverside Tech Donkeys head coach.

Last Week:
Idaho took down the then 12th-ranked Eastern Washington Eagles in a 28-21 victory, capped by a 25-yard Hayden Hatten receiving touchdown with 54 seconds left in the fourth quarter. A viral controversy erupted after the game as an EWU 22-yard field goal kicked by Coeur d’Alene graduate Seth Harrison was erroneously ruled as missed early in the fourth quarter of the Idaho victory. The Big Sky has acknowledged the incorrect ruling.

UC Davis’ opening-week matchup against Cal Poly was delayed after COVID-19 issues inside the Cal Poly program.

Previous Matchup:
September 22nd, 2018 – The Vandals lost in Davis against the then 21st-ranked Aggies, 44-21, after the Aggies led 44-7 after three quarters.

For Idaho, Mike Beaudry went just 8 for 21 with 101 yards in the first half, with a 71-yard pick-six kicking off the scoring for EWU. He settled in in the second half, going 14 of 24 with 195 yards and 2 TDs, including the game winner to Hatten.

After losing Meier to graduation, UC Davis is a complete unknown at the quarterback position. Junior Hunter Rodrigues served as the primary backup last season and went 6 of 13 for 62 yards. Sophomore Gunnor Faulk played at the end of the 2018 matchup vs. Idaho but did not complete a pass. Miles Hastings and Trent Tompkins are redshirt freshmen that are also listed on the depth chart. Faulk is currently listed as the starter, however, all QBs are listed with “OR”, indicating that any of the four could start..

Idaho’s Key Players:
Hayden Hatten proved to be Beaudry’s favorite target last week, leading the pass catchers with six receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown. Cutrell Haywood and Connor Whitney figure to be more involved this week as Jermaine Jackson was lost to injury on an early kickoff return.

Running backs Roshaun Johnson (10 carries, 29 yards) and Nick Romano (10 carries, 25 yards) will look to get the ground game going this week, as linebacker Tre Walker was the most impressive runner last week, with 28 yards on five carries.

True freshman center Greyson Harwood will likely start as starter Chad Bagwell got hurt early against the Eagles.

Defensively, Christian Elliss and Tre Walker combined for 30 tackles as they continue to spearhead the best linebacking group in the Big Sky. Walker was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week for his 15 tackles, sack, and forced fumble.

On special teams, punter Cade Coffey was named Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Week after he punted seven times for a 50.6 yard average, with a long of 61.

UC Davis’s Key Players:
All-Big Sky Conference Second Team RB from 2019 Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. will lead the Aggie offense after putting up 1652 yards (1298 rushing, 354 receiving) and 12 total touchdowns in 2019.

Last season’s top four receivers return to catch passes from whomever lines up under center. The quartet of 2019 All-Big Sky Conference Honorable Mention WR Khris Vaughn, Lance Babb II, Carson Crawford, and 2018 All-Big Sky Conference Third Team WR Jared Harrell combined for 167 receptions, 2162 yards, and 19 TDs. Vaughn paced the group with 53 receptions, 756 yards, and 9 TDs, but Crawford led the Aggies in receiving before missing the last half of the season to injury.

Defensively, the Aggies are led by 2019 All-Big Sky Conference First Team DB Devon King, 2019 All-Big Sky Conference Second Team LB Nick Eaton, and 2019 All-Big Sky Conference Honorable Mention DL Bryce Rodgers. Eaton was named the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year last season.

The Aggies’ initial depth chart does not have Gilliam Jr., Vaughn, Harrell, King, or Rodgers listed as starters, opting to use “OR” at every position besides holder.

Key to the Game:
Idaho’s offense must look like they did in the second half of last week’s game, and the defense must terrorize whomever takes the snaps at QB for UC Davis.

Game Predictions:
Producer Dallas: Everything looks to be in Idaho’s favor. A great win over EWU, a QB who settled in in the second half after knocking the rust off, a terrorizing defense, and a team playing their first game in almost 500 days with a brand-new QB. However, this feels like the perfect letdown game that Idaho has made fashionable throughout the decades. The returners for the UC Davis offense get it done as the Aggies win 28-27.
Chris: 28-24 Idaho
Brian: 38-24 Idaho
Alex: 35-21 Idaho
Sean: 34-31 Idaho

Predictions Standings:
Producer Dallas, Chris, Alex, Sean: 1-0
Brian: 0-1


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