Instead of the Spring Game scrimmage that has annually marked the end of spring football practice first-year UC Davis head coach Ron Gould decided to try something new this year.
Dubbed the Spring Preview and held at Aggie Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the event consisted of drills, brief seven-on-seven scrimmages and more than a few opportunities for the several hundred fans in attendance to get involved.
Children went out for deep passes from Aggie quarterbacks Randy Wright and London Lacy and fielded kicks from junior kicker Brady Stuart. One lucky child lined up in the backfield and took a handoff down the sideline as defenders threw themselves into all sorts of dramatic missed tackles. And another, older fan called in a play — a reverse that picked up a couple of yards.
The day concluded with Stuart attempting longer and longer kicks as the team gathered around him and did their best to simulate a stadium full of excited fans. The team and coaching staff then ended the day by gathering in front of the stands for a rendition of the Aggie fight song.
All of it was meant in part to get the community involved and excited about the 2013 season, which will feature six home games, including three in a row in September.
“(We have) six home games and what I’m looking for, we need to have 13,000 radical fans coming out to support the Aggies. That’s what we’re looking for,” Gould said. “We want guys to tailgate. We want them to have fun. And then when they come in the stadium, they’ve got to be amped and ready to rock and roll.”
UCD will travel to South Dakota (Aug. 31) and Nevada (Sept. 7) for the start of the season, before returning to Davis for the home opener against Northern Arizona (Sept. 14). UCD then stays in town for the next two weekends, taking on Portland State and Idaho State. The finale of that three-game homestand doubles as the Aggies’ first Big Sky Conference contest of the season.
After traveling to Cedar City, Utah, to face Southern Utah, UCD will be back Oct. 12 to host Montana in its annual homecoming game. Road games at Northern Colorado and Montana State follow before the locals are back at Aggie Stadium for the final two home outings of the fall — against longtime rival Cal Poly (Nov. 2) and North Dakota (Nov. 16).
The regular season will conclude with the annual Causeway Classic game at Sacramento State on Nov. 23.
The schedule projects to be a tough one, and the Aggies are still a long way off from being game-ready. Still, Gould seemed confident and optimistic about his team on Saturday.
“Everyone has really done a nice job of growing and they’ve taken the little steps we’ve asked them to take,” Gould said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the group. The guys, they’ve learned a new offense and defense. We’ve implemented two different schemes, different terminology, and we’ve had minimal mistakes. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they’ve handled everything on both the offensive and defensive sides.”
— Reach Will Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org