For the first time this season the Bears will square off with an opponent that is similar to what they bring to the table. As the Bears face Sacramento State, another FCS foe, they face a familiar opponent. The Bears and Hornets have player 14 times in the past, with the Hornets winning 6 of 7 in Sacramento.
The Bears will need to open the passing offense against this Hornets team, one that is stingy against the run only allowing 69.5 yards per game on the ground. They do allow the passing game to get going by the tune of a little over 300 yards per game. The Bears will need to run the ball like last week and allow Knipp to throw a few downfield. Milo Hall finished with 113 yards on the ground against Washington State, which was most of the Bears 216 yards on the ground. The passing game was not really there against a tough defensive backfield for the Bears last week, only completing 9 passes for 139 yards.
If the Bears want to get a win this weekend, they will need to limit one of the best running backs in the Big Sky conference to under 100 yards. Elijah Dotson is normally a high-powered running back, but has been limited this season with only 18 carries for 70 yards. Dotson is not the only threat for the Hornets, as they have a very capable quarterback in Kevin Thomson. This season Thomson has completed 46 of his 70 passes for 566 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is not one to throw interceptions so that will be a challenge for the Bears defensive backfield.
Defensively, the Bears shift the lineup a little in the backfield but will still rely heavily on Michael Walker as the stopper in the passing game. So far this season, the leading tackler has been a defensive back in Jerone Jackson. While that is good for JJ, it represents the fact that the Bears have not been getting the pressure with 7 up front guys. The d-line and linebackers need to get going against what is a smaller offensive line than they saw last week. I expect Eddie Gonzalez to have a breakout game this week against this Hornet line.
Make sure to catch the game this week on 1310 KFKA with the kickoff at 7:05 pm MT. Troy Coverdale and Aaron Rath kickoff the day with Blue and Gold Gameday at 6:05 pm MT.
Players to watch:
Bears Offense – (QB) #7 Jacob Knipp, (RB) #1 Milo Hall, (WR) #4 Dontay Warren
Bears Defense – (DL) #53 Eddie Gonzalez, (LB) #29 Luke Nelson, (DB) #5 Michael Walker
Hornets Offense – (QB) #5 Kevin Thomson, (RB) #33 Elijah Dotson, (WR) #84 Pierre Williams
Hornets Defense – (DL) #95 Dariyn Choates, (LB) #49 Armon Bailey, (DB) #30 Allen Perryman