Welcome to FCS week, our annual foray into previewing teams with very limited sources of information and statistics. Yesterday, Berkelium97 did his best to scare you as he previewed Portland State's stronger side of the ball. I'm here to disabuse you of any fear. True, it's easy to be flippant about FCS games, but last week's uprising means that we have to be a little more careful. It's a bad idea to schedule a team that can compete for a title in the FCS.
Portland State is not one of those teams. They were just 3-8 last year, primarily because of a defense that struggled badly throughout the year, allowing an average of 36 points per game. There's little reason to expect this year's version to be significantly better, as the defense is still extremely inexperienced at nearly every level.
They did put up some not-awful numbers last week . . . against NAIA Eastern Oregon. One could perhaps argue that allowing 17 points and 438 yards to a team two rungs lower is a disappointment. Regardless, I'm not going to quote any stats from last week because they're 99% irrelevant. Let's dive in.
Against the Run
Against the Pass
Stats of Dubious Value
The bottom line is this: Last year, Portland State had a very poor defense by FCS standards. They have completely revamped their defense this year, with only 4 starters with previous starting experience for the Vikings. It's entirely possible that some of the transfers are superior players to the ones that left last year. It's possible that they aren't. Either way, it's likely that those starters aren't fully integrated together and with the defensive scheme, and they haven't had any opportunity to prepare against an opponent similar to Cal.
Cal just put up more than 500 yards to a ranked, Big 10 opponent. There is zero reason to suspect that Cal won't be able to do more than that this week. And, as is frequently the case against FCS teams, this week is more about ironing out execution and getting comfortable than anything else.
Let's see how quickly we can get passes off. Let's see if we can go through 60 minutes without a procedural penalty. Let's not drop any passes. Let's create space in the running game. Let's do everything we can to feel confident before Ohio State comes calling.