Just watching the speed of college football players — even in practice — is a tiring feat for the athletically disinclined. And this year, UC Davis gridiron giants are dashing from one exercise to the next with a haste previously unmet.
Want to see just how fast new head coach Ron Gould has the Aggies going? UCD fans can get a look on Saturday (11 a.m.) at Aggie Stadium, when the evolution of the squad is on full display in the Spring Preview.
“You’ll see the offense and defense hustling from drill to drill, and the tempo of our practice,” said Gould, who took over the Aggie helm in December. “The biggest thing is, you’ll see a team coming together.”
During the Spring Preview, the UCD footballers will demonstrate their discipline to attendees by emulating their training exercises and engaging in some intra-squad competition.
It’s a free event that occurs annually as a finale to the spring practice regiment. This year’s version is unique, since the Aggies have been put through their slate of 15 preseason practices by a mostly new coaching staff.
And all the sprinting around at practice that has come with that switch in leadership has been met with excitement as players can often be overheard encouraging one-another to quicken their stride.
In an interview with The Enterprise after practice Thursday, Gould verified that he’s seen his charges embracing the modifications:
“They understand what the expectations are — I’ve made them clear and concise. We want it to always be game speed. That’s why we’re constantly pushing the pace.”
But the most significant adjustment may have been Gould’s, who replaces the retired Bob Biggs after spending nearly two decades at Cal. Biggs, a former Aggie quarterback, was at the UCD helm for 20 seasons.
Gould has had just over four months to implement his vision for the team.
“God has blessed me to take over this team, this program,” Gould said. “Getting acclimated — to the community, to the players — has definitely been an adjustment. It has been good though, better than I could have dreamt or imagined.”
One of the many changes the new faces of Aggie football had in mind was making Saturday’s event into a more family-friendly day of fun, and as a showcase of how the squad practices — instead of the usual Spring Game scrimmage.
At the Spring Preview, UCD will host a Jr. Aggie Zone, where kids will have the opportunity to play games, make posters and try on authentic UCD football gear. Aggie merchandise and beverages will be sold during the day.
Another reason a more full-fledged game is off the radar is that of the 80 players on the UCD roster, 20 are out on injuries. Gould said a handful are still recovering from knee and shoulder surgeries.
Reports have former Davis High running back Courtney Williams as one of the injured Aggies.
“Right now, we’re down,” Gould said. “We’re a little thin. A majority will be back in it by the fall, but unfortunately, not by Saturday.”
Still the goal of the longstanding event remains intact. Gould said the Spring Preview will do plenty to give Aggie fans a sense of what’s in store for the 2013-14 season.
“These guys have worked their fannies off, and I want people to see just how far they’ve progressed from January to now,” Gould said. “They’re really coming together, and taking pride in what they’re doing.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett