Sac State defense dominates but still has room for improvement

Sac State defense nearly shuts out St. Francis in 55-7 win


Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

Sacramento State sophomore Daron Bland and Saint Francis wide receiver Ray Vallot watch a pass hit the ground during the first quarter of the Hornets 55-7 win on Sept.1 at Hornets Stadium.

Dominique Walker

Sacramento State football opened the season against St. Francis University by winning 55-7.

The talent on the field was overwhelming for St. Francis, a school which plays at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics level. The Hornets led 31-0 at halftime and played their substitutes for nearly the entire second half.

Paul Wulff served as interim head coach for the game as regular head coach Jody Spears served a one-game suspension for an NCAA violation which occured in 2016.

In the postgame press conference, senior defensive backs Dre Terrell, Mister Harriel and junior defensive back Caelan Barnes said that they have high expectations this season and need to get off to a hot start after finishing with a 7-4 record last season.

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“We all have that chip on our shoulder. We all know what happened last year, so we know everyone has high expectations for us, but we don’t worry about that. We just come out and play,” Harriel said.

The Hornets were ranked No. 19 in the nation in the Street and Smith rankings and No. 23 in the Athlon Sports preseason rankings coming into the season.

The Sac State defense was pitching a shutout until midway through the third quarter when the Fighting Saints scored their first and only touchdown of the game.

In the end, the defensive allowed a total of 304 yards, which Terrell said the team hopes to improve on.

“Our two goals is (sic) to stop the run and create turnovers and tonight we didn’t have any turnovers, so I think that’s the biggest step we have to take going into next week,” Terrell said.

Wulff did give some credit to St. Francis, however.

“They offensively did a nice job,” Wulff said. They slowed the game down, they took their time snapping the ball so they can take possessions away from us.”

St. Francis had a total of 66 offensive plays to Sac State’s 59. Ball control will be key in next week’s game against San Diego State according to Wulff, who said St. Francis did a good job controlling the ball on Saturday.

With senior defensive tackle George Obinna injured in the first quarter, the Hornets wound up allowing 111 rushing yards. As a junior, Obinna had 8.5 sacks as a junior and Wulff said his minor injury will likely not bar him from playing next week at San Diego State.

“We got to go out and execute and play our game,” Wulff said. “We know they are a good football team but we feel we are a good football team as well. We have a very focused and mature group, so when you have that you will always be able to compete in any game you play.”

Wulff said that St. Francis has a similar defensive scheme to San Diego State, but the Aztecs — who play in a tougher league and conference — are at a different skill level than St. Francis.

San Diego State will be the only team on the Hornets schedule which currently plays at a higher division than Sac State.