In the 2005 football season there were many highs and a few lows that collectively made the Portland State football team more prepared for the future.

Last year, the departures of star running back Ryan Fuqua and quarterback Joe Wiser left big gaps to be filled in the offense. Senior running back Joe Rubin was a diamond in the rough, exploding on the turf and steamrolling defenses week after week.

Rubin’s tough running style gained him 1,702 yards on 345 carries with 17 touchdowns and 154.7 yards per game. He gave his best performance during game four’s victory against Northern Colorado.

Rubin racked up 362 yards on 47 carries and had five touchdowns. He single-handedly dominated the Bears 41-17 in front of the home crowd. He was a monster for the Viks, not only contributing heavily offensively but also controlling the clock and keeping the defense fresh.

The Vikings have always had a tough offensive line and this year they continued to dominate. Leading the Big Sky in rushing offense, the Vikings O-line gave runners 4.7 yards per carry and almost 200 yards rushing per game. The line also only allowed 10 sacks for 43 yards on the season.

On defense the Vikings were tough: they stood second in the conference in rush defense. The defensive line consistently stonewalled opposing runners, allowing only 3.8 yards per carry. This defensive line is going to continue to dominate as head coach Tim Walsh added three former Division I D-linemen to the roster this spring. PSU was also second in turnover margin. The team forced 25 fumbles/interceptions on the season for a plus-11 turnover margin.

For all the positives, though, the Vikings still had a mediocre year. PSU finished fourth place in the Big Sky Conference, with a record of 6-5 on the year (4-3 Big Sky). The Vikings were never really able to find consistency in their passing game.

Junior quarterback Sawyer Smith worked hard for success passing, but was unable to do much better than his predecessor. Smith finished with a statistically solid year: 1,709 yards, 14 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. The biggest problem for Smith was converting third downs and changing momentum when the defense was bearing down on him. He did finish the season with a 54.8 passing percentage and looked better and better as the year continued.

The Vikings had a tough off-season, losing key seniors including wideout Shaun Bodiford, Rubin, tight end Scott Weaver, fullback Allan Kennett, linebacker Joey King and safety Jamal Abdullah. Kennett was a key piece of the running game and will leave large shoes to fill if the Viks want to continue their dominant running offense.

King was second on the Vikings in both total tackles and tackles for a loss. He also forced three turnovers and had three sacks. King was named to the ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America first-team and has won all of PSU’s athlete academic excellence awards.

Sadly, Portland State also lost a member of the football team before he was able to graduate. Ed Macon, a junior and a wide receiver, died in a one-car accident when his vehicle hit black ice and flipped. Macon was poised for a big 2006 season and was a favorite in the locker room among players and coaches. Over 200 people celebrated Macon’s life at his memorial service on Thursday, March 16.