Quickly: Southern Utah will look to clinch its third winning season in the last four years and post the highest number of wins in the Ed Lamb era Saturday when the Thunderbirds take on Weber State at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah.
The Thunderbirds (6-3/3-2 Big Sky) are coming off a bye week which followed a 19-9 home win over Idaho State on Oct. 26. With the win over ISU Southern Utah notched its third six-win season in the last four campaigns. SUU needs one more win to give Lamb his first seven-win season as well as to clinch a winning record with the 12-game schedule.
Southern Utah wheeled out a new quarterback against the Bengals and true freshman Mike Sharp delivered, rushing for a team-high 157 yards and throwing for another 178 but it was the defense that was key to the SUU win. The Thunderbirds held the prolific Bengal offense to 254 total yards – including just 13 on the ground – and one touchdown.
Weber State (1-8/0-5 Big Sky) broke a season-opening seven-game losing streak with a 24-22 win over the Thunderbirds in Cedar City last year, and the Wildcats will be looking for a similar outcome Saturday. WSU opened the 2013 season with a 50-40 home win over Stephen F. Austin but has not posted another win since, a stretch of eight games.
Last week the Wildcats traveled to Portland State, where they came out on the wrong end of a 45-24 decision. The Wildcats threw for 331 yards and held the Vikings to 130 passing yards but lost the ball twice on fumbles and gave up 350 rushing yards in the loss.
The Game: Southern Utah (6-3/3-2) vs. Weber State (1-8/0-5) Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at Stewart Stadium (17,500/Field Turf).
Radio: All of Southern Utah’s 2013 football games will be available over the Thunderbird Sports Network. SUU flagship station KSUU (91.1 FM) will carry every game live as well as on the worldwide web at www.suu.edu/ksuu. Dr. Art Challis, who is in his 40th season as the Voice of the Thunderbirds provides the play-by-play while Brian Brown will provide analysis.
Video Highlights: High definition video highlights of ALL of the Thunderbirds’ home and road games will be available to accredited media outlets via SUU’s FTP site. For information on obtaining those highlights contact SUU Director of Athletic Media Relations Neil Gardner.
Live Internet Video on WatchBigSky.com: Internet telecasts of all of SUU’s home games as well as its Big Sky road games are available through WatchBigSky.com (formerly BigSkyTV). The broadcasts are free of charge but a subscription is necessary and viewers need to download the latest versions of Adobe Flash and Octoshape if they do not already have them (the downloads are available on WatchBigSky.com). Viewers who had an account with BigSkyTV will be able to use that account to access WatchBigSky.com.
TV: Saturday’s game will not be televised.
Media Availability: Players and coaches are available for interviews on Tuesdays following practice, at approximately 7:00 p.m. To contact a player or coach on another day or time, or to arrange telephone interviews, contact Neil Gardner at email@example.com or 435-586-7753.
Thunderbird Practice Schedule: The players are off on Mondays, with daily practices Tuesday through Friday. Tuesday practices are scheduled to begin at 5:35 p.m., Wednesday practices will begin at 5:30, while Thursday and Friday practices will start at 4:45 p.m.
The Series: Weber State holds a 15-4 lead in the series, including a 11-3 mark in games played in Ogden. The Wildcats won the last game in the series, a 24-22 win last year in Cedar City, but SUU won the last contest played in Ogden as the Thunderbirds outlasted the Wildcats 35-28 in 2011. WSU won the first 11 meetings before SUU broke through in Ogden with a 39-7 triumph during the 1999 season. The teams split the next four games but WSU has won three of the last four meetings.
Big Sky Teleconference: The Big Sky Conference holds a weekly coaches teleconference, Wednesdays beginning at 10:00 a.m. (Mountain). For information on accessing the teleconference, contact SUU Director of Athletic Media Relations Neil Gardner. The schedule follows:
10:00 a.m. MTN (9:00 PCT) – Rob Ash, Montana State
10:08 a.m. MTN (9:08 PCT) – Chris Mussman, North Dakota
10:16 a.m. MTN (9:16 PCT) – Ed Lamb, Southern Utah
10:24 a.m. MTN (9:24 PCT) – Jody Sears, Weber State
10:32 a.m. MTN (9:32 PCT) – Mike Kramer, Idaho State
10:40 a.m. MTN (9:40 PCT) – Mick Delaney, Montana
10:48 a.m. MTN (9:48 PCT) – Earnest Collins Jr., No. Colorado
10:56 a.m. MTN (9:56 PCT) – Jerome Souers, No. Arizona
11:04 a.m. MTN (10:04 PCT) – Nigel Burton, Portland State
11:12 a.m. MTN (10:12 PCT) – Marshall Sperbeck, Sacramento State
11:20 a.m. MTN (10:20 PCT) – Beau Baldwin, E. Washington
11:28 a.m. MTN (10:28 PCT) – Tim Walsh, Cal Poly
11:36 a.m. MTN (10:36 PCT) – Ron Gould, UC Davis
Thunderbird Club Luncheons: The Thunderbird Club’s weekly no-host luncheon is held Mondays at noon at the Cedar City Crystal Inn. The public is invited to attend the luncheons where Southern Utah’s in-season coaches talk about their upcoming contests and review the past week’s action.
Next Up/Remaining Schedule: The Thunderbirds play their last road game of the 2013 regular season next week at Montana State before wrapping up the regular-season at home on Nov. 23 against Northern Arizona.
A 2010 Eddie Robinson Award nominee, SUU's Ed Lamb (BYU, 1996) has a record of 32-32 in his sixth season as the Thunderbird head coach and his sixth season as a head coach overall. Last year Lamb guided the Thunderbirds to a 5-6 record, including a 4-4 mark in SUU’s first season in the Big Sky Conference. In 2011 he led the T-Birds to their second straight winning season and their first win over an FBS-level opponent (UNLV) since 1997. He led the team to a Great West Conference championship in 2010 when the Thunderbirds went undefeated in GWC play and finished the season with a 6-5 overall mark. Prior to taking over at SUU, Lamb spent three seasons at the University of San Diego where he coordinated the special teams and recruiting and was the Toreros’ defensive backs coach. Lamb also spent two seasons as defensive coordinator at Idaho, a season at BYU as a linebackers coach and four seasons at the University of Redlands, three as defensive coordinator and one as defensive line coach. Coach Lamb is 1-1 vs. the Wildcats.
Weber State’s Jody Sears (Washington State, 1991) is 3-16 in his second season as head coach at Weber State and in his second season as a head coach overall. Coach Sears is 1-0 vs. the Thunderbirds.
Affiliations: Southern Utah is a member of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision’s Big Sky Conference in the majority of its sports, including football (gymnastics is an NCAA Division I independent while men’s golf will compete in the American Sky Conference this season). Idaho State is also a member of the Big Sky Conference.
Notes from the Idaho State Game:
• In his first start as a Thunderbird true freshman quarterback Mike Sharp had 335 yards of total offense, more than the entire team totalled in five of the first eight games. Sharp ran for a team season-high 157 yards and a touchdown, and threw for another 178 yards, completing 14-of-27 passes. He ran one yard for his first career rushing TD to give SUU a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.
• Sharp had 31 carries, the most by a Thunderbird since Matt Cannon (another rushing QB) carried 31 times at Boise State in 1999.
• Senior safety Tommy Collet Jr. co-led the team with eight tackles, four solo, with a 3-yard TFL and one pass break-up.
• Senior kicker Colton Cook was a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals and 1-for-1 on PAT. His four made FGs were one short of the SUU school record and sit all alone in second place in the SUU book. He connected from 38 yards out to give the team a 3-0 lead, then added a 30-yarder to make it 13-0. Cook tacked on another 38-yarder in the second half before nailing a 22-yard field goal with 27 seconds to play to make it a 10-point game and put the game on ice.
• The four field goals were the most in a game by SUU since the 2009 season when Ryan Griffith kicked five against Dixie State.
• SUU heads into this week’s game with six wins, equalling the most wins in a season since Ed Lamb took over the program in 2008. The team went 6-5 in 2010 and 2011.
• SUU piled up a season-high 418 yards of offense against ISU and held the Bengals to their second-lowest output of the season, 254 yards, including a season-low 13 rushing yards.
• CBs LeShaun Sims and Myles Carelock each intercepted their second passes of the season and each led to SUU scores. Carelock's INT came in the second quarter at the ISU 41 yard line and led to the field goal that made it a 13-0 game while Sims' pick came in the end zone in the fourth quarter and the team then drove for the field goal that made it a 16-6 game.
• Sophomore DE James Cowser had just two tackles but one was a solo sack, the other was an assisted sack. Cowser also had a pair of QB hurries.
Scouting the Wildcats:
The Wildcats have played a difficult schedule, with games at Utah and Utah State in weeks two and three, followed by a contest at nationally-ranked McNeese State in the fourth week of the season. They have also faced a pair of top-five teams in conference play, Eastern Washington and Montana State and have faced just two teams with overall losing records, Stephen F. Austin and Cal Poly.
Weber State’s offense has been balanced, as the Wildcats average 140.3 yards per game on the ground and 157.2 through the air. The defense has allowed opponents to rush for 259.2 yards per game and pass for another 271.7 yards.
True freshman Austin Chipoletti has been the primary signal-caller for the Wildcats after replacing the injured Jordan Adamczyk in the third game of the season. Chipoletti has completed 121-of-210 passes for 1,168 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions in his seven starts. His favorite target has been senior wideout Erik Walker, who has 48 receptions for 528 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman WR Cam Livingston and junior RB Bo Bolen each have 20 receptions, with Livingston piling up 253 yards and two touchdowns while Bolen has 143 receiving yards. Junior Shaydon Kehano emerged as a force last week, catching six passes for 123 yards and a TD in his first action of the year.
Bolen is the team’s leading rusher with 427 net yards and four TDs on 91 carries, while Josh Booker has carried 86 times for 284 yards and two scores and Zach Smith has 61 rushing attempts for 258 yards and another TD. Chipoletti has rushed for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns but has been sacked 17 times.
The defense has been led by linebackers Roman Valenzuela and Anthony Morales. Valenzuela, a sophomore, has 72 tackles while Morales, a senior, has 67 stops including eight tackles for loss. Senior safety Chris Wheeler has 60 tackles with three TFL and sophomore cornerback Adam Padilla has 56 tackles with four TFL. Junior corner Deon’tae Florence has three of the team’s seven interceptions and leads the squad with six passes broken up while junior DE Dustin Martin has a team-high nine tackles for loss. Five different Wildcats, including Morales, have a sack but no one has more than one.
SUU In The FCS/BSC National Ranks:
SUU has six players ranked among the FCS top-50 in eight statistical categories and the team figures among the top-30 programs in 14 categories.
Defense: DE James Cowser ranks 12th in the FCS and second in the Big Sky in tackles for loss with 1.5 per game while Tommy Collet Jr. is 34th in the nation and third in the BSC in interceptions with 0.3 per game. Tyree Mills 0.8 interceptions per game would lead the nation but he has played in just five games and players must appear in 75 percent of their team’s contests to be eligible.
Offense: On the offensive side of the ball QB Aaron Cantu ranks among the nation’s top-50 in two categories: 16th in completion percentage at .657 and 28th in completions per game with 19.6; those numbers rank second and fifth in the BSC. WR Fatu Moala is just out of the top-50 (52nd in the nation) and 15th in the Sky in receptions per game with 5.2.
Special Teams: Kicker Colton Cook is the highest-ranked Thunderbird this week as his 1.6 field goals per game ranks fifth in the nation and second in the Big Sky while his field goal percentage (.824) ranks 21st, and is third in the conference. Punter Brock Miller’s 44.2 yards per punt average puts him sixth in the nation and fourth in the conference.
Team: In the team categories, SUU leads the Big Sky in seven categories, including fumbles lost with one, which is also the best mark in the FCS. SUU also leads the BSC in red zone defense (.655, third in the nation), time of possession (34:02, fourth), turnovers gained (22, eighth), scoring defense (20.2 ppg, 10th), rushing defense (112.2 ypg, 14th), fourth down conversion percentage (.700, 15th) and total defense (348.4, 33rd).
SUU ranks second in the BSC in passes intercepted with 12 (14th in the FCS), is third in the conference in net punting (39.35 ypp, sixth) and in turnover margin (plus 1.0, eighth), and fourth in the BSC in three categories: fewest penalties per game (5.0, 24th in the FCS), completion percentage (.639, 25th) and fewest penalty yards per game (45.33, 29th).
T-Birds Receiving Votes In Polls: Southern Utah was listed among the others receiving votes in the FCS Coaches and Sports Network’s top-25 polls this week. SUU received six points to rank 39th in the coaches poll and 61 points to rank 33rd in the Sports Network poll this week.
ROOT Sports Players of the Week:
Colton Cook earned his third ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week award of the season for his play against Idaho State. Cook was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, one shy of the SUU single-game record, and hit his only PAT try in the 19-9 win.
Tyree Mills and Brock Miller were named Players of the week for their performances in the Thunderbirds’ 17-7 win over Portland State. Mills earned Defensive Player of the Week honors while Miller was named Special Teams Player of the week.
Mills had two of the biggest plays of the day, a pair of interceptions, one of which he returned 41 yards to the Viking one-yard line to set up a touchdown. He also broke up three more passes and tallied nine tackles, eight of which were solo stops. In just three games this season Mills has intercepted four passes.
Miller punted seven times for 340 yards, an average of 48.6 yards per kick, and pinned the Vikings inside their 20 yard line three times, including twice inside the 10-yard line. In addition to the other seven he had one partially-blocked punt which still managed to travel 44 yards before being downed at the Viking six. Miller is the school’s career punt average leader, at 43.2 yards per punt.
Cook earned the special teams award following the Northern Colorado game. Cook was perfect in helping lift the Thunderbirds to a 27-21 win at Northern Colorado on Saturday. He was 3-for-3 on extra point attempts, 2-for-2 on field goal attempts and all of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. Cook’s season-long 48-yard field goal gave the Thunderbirds a 3-0 lead and set the SUU career field goals record at 39. His 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter gave the T-Birds a 27-14 advantage and extended the career record.
Junior linebacker Matt Holley was named Defensive Player of the Week following the Fort Lewis game. Holley tallied three tackles for loss, including a sack, forced one fumble and recovered two more fumbles on the night. All three of the fumble plays resulted in scores, either directly or indirectly. He returned his first fumble recovery 18 yards for SUU's second touchdown of the game while the other came at the FLC 19 yard line and the Thunderbirds scored on the next play. His solo sack and fumble-forced came on the same play when FLC QB Jordan Doyle coughed up the ball and Toi Taufa picked it up and returned it 40 yards, setting up another SUU touchdown.
Cook was named Special Teams Player of the Week following the South Alabama game. Cook, a senior from Bountiful, Utah (Viewmont HS) was 3-3 on field goals and 1-1 on extra points in the Thunderbirds’ 22-21 win at South Alabama. He scored the first and last points of the game, on a 33-yard field goal to stake SUU to a 3-0 first quarter lead and a 28-yarder as time expired to lift the Thunderbirds to the 22-21 victory. He also had a 37-yarder in the third period and was perfect on his only point after touchdown attempt.
CSN Players of the Week:
Senior kicker Colton Cook and freshman running back Raysean Martin have earned National All-Star honors from College Sporting News this season. Cook was honored for his play at South Alabama while Martin was honored for his play at Sacramento State.
Cook’s performance at South Alabama is detailed above.
Martin, helped lead the Thunderbirds to the 24-21 overtime win by carrying 26 times for 131 yards and all three of the SUU touchdowns. He also completed a 33-yard pass for a first down during the team’s game-tying drive at the end of regulation play. His carries, yards and touchdowns were all career-highs and the three TDs were the most by an SUU running back since Major Gray had four scoring runs against UC Davis in 2009.
• Senior PK Colton Cook sets SUU’s career record every time he hits a field goal. His 38-yard game-winner at Sacramento State put him into a tie atop SUU’s career-field goals list with Herkey Marxen at, appropriately, 38. He has subsequently succeeded on nine more tries to put the record at 47. His 13 points against Idaho State gave him 215 for his career to move him past Dave Pretzer’s 205 (1999-2002) and leave him seven points behind Rod Madsen (1998-2001) and 10 shy of the SUU mark by a kicker, 225, by Herkey Marxen (1986-89). He also has 74 PAT which puts him in fourth place on SUU’s career list, 32 behind Steve Pulver’s 106 (2003-07).
• Senior WR Fatu Moala moved into fifth place on a pair of career lists at Northern Colorado and after the two subsequent games he has 138 receptions for 1,713 yards. He is 363 yards behind Bob Stookey (1988-91) and five receptions behind A.J. Smith (2003-04) for fourth place on both respective lists. Moala is also knocking on the door of another list as he needs just one touchdown to move into a tie for ninth in SUU’s career receiving TDs list (he is currently 11th with 10).
• Senior punter Brock Miller’s four punts for 188 yards vs. Idaho State upped his career average from 43.19 yards per punt to 43.29, the best average in school history. Trevor Ward, who last played in 2009, is second at 42.3 ypp. His season average of 44.2 yards per punt ranks fourth at SUU, just behind Jeff McComb’s 44.4 ypp average in 1987.