Sac State football team begins new era under head coach Troy Taylor

Hornets open season at home against Southern Oregon


Eucario Calderon

Sac State junior quarterback Kevin Thomson throws a pass during training camp on Tuesday, August 12 at the practice field. Thomson averaged 9.52 yards per completion in 2018, ranking second in program history only trailing the record he set in 2017.

Following a 2-8 season last year, the Sacramento State football team enter the 2019 season with a new identity led by new head coach Troy Taylor.

Former head coach Jody Sears was fired in November following five seasons with the team. Sears compiled an overall record of 20-35 (13-26 Big Sky) and had two winning seasons while at Sac State.

Taylor comes to Sac State from the PAC-12 Conference after serving as offensive coordinator at the University of Utah for two seasons. Taylor retained one coach from the previous regime (running backs coach James Montgomery) and brought in his own coaches, including four from Folsom High School, where Taylor coached at from 2012-2015.

RELATED: Taylor takes major pay cut to coach football at Sac State

“The thing that they have in common (is) all the guys are positive, upbeat guys and (are) great teachers,” Taylor said. “The reason why I brought four Folsom guys is because they understand the philosophy on what I believe about how to coach players and our overall mentality. Knowing those guys already understand it gives me a pretty good advantage.”

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For many returning players, they said they noticed a difference right away with the new coaching staff and how training camp is conducted.

“This year (training camp has) actually gotten a lot better because it’s more organized,” junior running back Elijah Dotson said. “These coaches have an idea of what they want and they are going to get it anyway they can. Honestly, this is the best training camp I’ve been apart of so I wouldn’t change (anything).”

Junior quarterback Kevin Thomson, who is returning for his third season as starter, noted that one major difference with the new staff is having night practices this year to simulate a game environment as most games this season will kick off at 6 p.m. 

Thomson, who was a senior last season, was granted two more years of collegiate eligibility by the NCAA during the offseason after missing over two years as an underclassmen while at UNLV due to Tommy John surgery.

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According to Taylor, training camp has gone well so far in part due to the team’s offseason strength and conditioning program.

“The guys came in (to training camp) in great shape,” Taylor said. “They came in ready to go and have had great energy. Training camp can be tough but they have done a great job with long days and have stay locked in the whole time so we are very pleased.”

RELATED: Football coach Troy Taylor’s first season at Sac State taking shape

One of the biggest changes for the Hornets offensively going into 2019 is a new fast-paced playbook. 

“The offensive style and scheme is really a lot different, there is a bit of a learning curve,” Thomson said. “I think if you spend the time in the playbook, you pick it up real quick. I don’t think we’ll have a problem making plays when Saturdays come around.”

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The Hornets’ 12 game schedule in 2019 will not be easy. In week two, Sac State travels to play PAC-12 school, Arizona State. 

In October, Big Sky conference play begins with an immediate challenge at home against #4 Eastern Washington University. The Eagles lost in the Football Championship Subdivision title game to North Dakota State University last season.

Following the first conference matchup, the Hornets three remaining home games are all against teams ranked in the FCS preseason rankings (#25 Montana, #8 Weber State and #5 UC Davis).

“It is definitely going to be tough,” said senior defensive back Caelan Barnes. “I feel like we have one of the hardest schedules, but in the Big Sky Conference you never know. The underdog can be the best team.”

Sac State opens the 2019 season on Saturday at 6 p.m. against Southern Oregon University at Hornet Stadium.