Mu'Ammar Ali credits different cleats for his breakout rushing day
With a new pair of shoes, a new looking line and a newly healthy receiver, Portland State suddenly has some oomph to its offense going into Saturday's game at Oregon
'It's the shoes,' running back Mu'Ammar Ali says.
Ali wore a new pair last Saturday against Eastern Washington, and they were like magic slippers, as he danced for 160 yards on 29 carries in No. 21 PSU's 34-0 victory at PGE Park.
'I slipped here about eight times last week,' Ali says.
The new pair has 'grips' on the sides to help him make cuts, explains his father, Mustafa Ali.
The offensive line did the rest, helping Ali score his first two PSU touchdowns in his third game with the Vikings since recovering from a shoulder injury.
'Mu'Ammar told the line, 'You move 'em, I'll groove 'em,' ' his beaming dad says.
The Portland State running attack, which had been almost nonexistent, got stronger as the night went on. The win completes the Vikings' four-game home schedule.
'The guys up front were starting to feel it, and feel him,' Mustafa Ali says.
Mu'Ammar Ali, who had gained just 59 yards on 23 carries the week before against Idaho State, was grateful.
'I was brought here to make plays,' he says. 'Last week, I was trying to score three touchdowns on one play, trying to do too much, too soon.'
Also making plays was wideout Tremayne Kirkland, back in the lineup after a one-game absence to heal a pinched nerve in his neck. He caught five of Sawyer Smith's passes for 120 yards.
'Sitting out for a week was probably the hardest thing I've ever done, next to redshirting,' says Kirkland, who missed the 2004 season at Nevada-Las Vegas with a shoulder separation.
With Kirkland, Brendan Ferrigno, Kenneth Mackins and fellow wideout Brandon Jones coming along - Jones caught his first PSU touchdown pass, a 22-yarder that capped the team's scoring - the Viks have a nice mix of targets for Smith.
'Brandon, Kenneth and I can all run 4.3 in the 40,' Kirkland says. 'We don't know who is faster. We're going to race at the end of the season.
'And Ferrigno runs cool routes and is quick.'