UC Davis football coach Ron Gould says his team needs to continue its new-found ability to create turnovers on defense when the Aggies play at Colorado State on Saturday.
Through the first two games – a 45-0 loss at Stanford in the season opener and a 52-17 win in last Saturday’s home opener against Fort Lewis – the Aggies have forced six turnovers. They had 14 in 12 games last season.
The Aggies had three turnovers against Stanford and three more Saturday against Fort Lewis as junior Shamawn Wright, redshirt freshman Darryl Graham and sophomore Russell Reeder had interceptions.
Players credit second-year defensive coordinator Bert Watts and his staff for making practices challenging, while also being insightful game planners.
“They do a great job of telling us where to be, and usually when we’re in those spots, we’re making the plays,” said senior free safety Charles Boyett.
Players have responded to practices that include “Takeaway Tuesdays” and “Strip Club Wednesdays.”
“It was a big emphasis for us in the offseason, and we work on it every single day in practice,” Gould said. “It’s great to see those drills coming to fruition, and that guys have been making plays.”
Wright was among several Aggies showing big-play capability against Fort Lewis, an overmatched Division II team. The cornerback scored on an 89-yard kickoff return; freshman wide receiver Jermale Jefferson had scoring runs of 68 and 43 yards, and senior running back Colton Silveria added a 72-yard rushing touchdown. Senior wide receiver Corey Galindo also caught three touchdown passes – two from senior starting quarterback London Lacy and one from sophomore Ben Scott.
Colorado State (1-1) will be a good test for where the Aggies stand as they attempt to beat a Football Bowl Subdivision team for only the third time in 13 such games since 2005.
While the Rams aren’t exactly Stanford, they are no Fort Lewis, either. Colorado State lost to Boise State 37-24 on Saturday in its Mountain West Conference opener as the Broncos’ had 676 yards of total offense.
The Rams were held to 28 rushing yards in 23 carries after going for 266 yards in a season-opening win over Colorado. Against Boise State, Rams senior quarterback Garrett Grayson threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns on a career-high 58 attempts but was intercepted twice and sacked twice.
Colorado State is coached by Jim McElwain, who was offensive coordinator at Alabama during the Crimson Tide’s BCS national championship seasons in 2009 and 2011. He is in his third season in Fort Collins, having led Colorado State to an 8-5 record and New Mexico Bowl win over Washington State last season. It was the most wins by a Rams team in 12 seasons.
“They are one of the most physical teams I have ever seen,” Gould said, adding “they’re scary” and “they’ll “knock your head off.”
“Obviously, we have to play extremely well,” Gould said.
Running back Gabe Manzanares is expected to see his first action of the season for the Aggies after injuring his foot in spring practice. The senior was the Aggies’ feel-good story of 2013, a walk-on from City College of San Francisco who earned Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year honors after rushing for 1,285 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Tompkins, with 40 years of experience, handled play-by-play duties, bumping incumbent Scott Marsh to co-analyst duties with Doug Kelly.
Tompkins was well received on social media during the broadcast, though a few took him to task for calling the Aggies “Cal Davis” at one point.
The Hornets posted their highest grade-point average in school history during the 2014 spring semester. The 14 players finished with a cumulative 3.092 grade-point average in the spring, as well as a 3.043 overall for the school year.
Of the 18 Hornets who have expired their eligibility under Katz, 16 have graduated.
Sac State finished 10-10 (14-16 overall) in the Big Sky last season, its best record since joining that conference in 1996.