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Aggie QB battle on: who will replace 4-year starter Wright?

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From page B1 | August 08, 2014 |

0808UCD Football95W

UCD quarterback London Lacy, who has played in nine games for the Aggies, is one of three players competing for the 2014 starting spot. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

Where’s No. 17?

Look behind the offensive linemen … Nope, not there.

Is he in back of the gear near the medical tent? Negative.

Maybe he’s got a class … Not anymore.

So Randy Wright, five years in the UC Davis football program, is really gone?

What ever are the Aggies going to do without the guy who started the most games at quarterback in program history?

Move on, and quickly, after three straight losing seasons.

There’s a three-man starting-berth battle shaping up among the five QBs in camp. It looks like Wright’s old spot will be filled by somebody with additional quickness, more down-the-field throwing ability and a wealth of depth at wide receiver.

Just four days into camp, London Lacy, Turner Baty and Ben Scott have joined true freshman C.J. Spencer and redshirt first-year man Garrett Bogart in a full-house competition to see who takes over.

“The top three guys — Ben, London and Turner — are doing really good jobs,” says UCD head coach Ron Gould. “The freshmen are learning the system, but after the first few days (that trio) is starting to separate themselves.

“I’m real, real pleased as we move forward. … In terms of making the right decisions and running the offense, they’re doing a great job.”

Lacy has been around since arriving in 2010 from Kingsburg High. Like Wright, Lacy redshirted his first year but has appeared in only nine games since.

His coming-out party seemed to be the May intrasquad game, in which he threw for 277 yards and three scores.

But Scott, a standout at Vanden High, has seen considerable action in spring, and again this week. And Baty — who threw for more than 6,000 yards and 48 touchdowns at City College of San Francisco — has added excitement to the spirited camp workouts.

“We’re a huge step past where we were a year ago, mentally and in understanding the game,” offensive coordinator/QB coach Kevin Daft says of his fold. “They are taking it to another level on their knowledge of the game — and that’s when the game slows down.”

At least to the participants. To observers, everything offensive in Aggie camp seems to be climbing toward warp speed.

“There’s a level of excitement,” junior Baty explains. “Everyone worked really hard over the summer. Everyone is fired up to get out here and show the coaches what we’ve improved upon over the summer.”

To a man, the quarterbacks believe having Gould’s first year behind them has added to overall confidence.

“There was a lot of philosophy change,” says Lacy, whose last prep team went 13-0 while winning a CIF title under his watch. “It’s still Aggie football. I think we’re getting back to our roots and we’re focusing on the details a little more.”

With healthy veteran wide receivers like T.J. King, Chris Martin and Alex Cannon being joined by first-year burners Jermale Jefferson (Dorsey of Los Angeles) and Keelan Doss (Alameda High), the well-armed 2014 Aggie signal-callers could help UCD get deep more often.

(The Aggies had only six pass plays of 40 yards or farther in 2013. Their longest was 59 yards to Cannon from departed Jimmy Laughrea against Nevada. It was Cannon’s only catch of the season as injuries took him out of the mix.)

What about this competition, though? Isn’t it cutthroat vying for the catbird seat on a football team?

“No. Not at all,” Scott says. “We’re all helping each other out, trying to get better. We each want to do what’s best for the team. We really are all supportive of each other, so (this competition) has been good.”

Scott says at Vanden, where he threw for 2,876 yards and 34 TDs as a senior, the Vikings worked mostly out of the shotgun. At UCD, Scott has been getting acclimating to “doing more throwing from center. I have to get used to running more (rushing) plays here, too.”

But so far, so good …

“They’re improving,” adds Daft, not a bad gunslinger himself during his Aggie days. “There’s always a certain amount of rust that they have (since spring). But they’re doing a good job: working really hard, attentive in meetings. Definitely farther ahead than they were in spring.”

So, how deep do the Aggies have to go into camp before they get a feel for the quarterback pecking order?

“That’s an ongoing thing,” Daft explains. “You have where you finished (individually) in spring, then we see where we’re at now. We talk about progress with coach Gould … but there’s no pre-determined day or moment. We look at their whole body of work. It’s still a ways to go before we get a feel for the situation.”

As for the highly touted Baty, he echoes Scott, saying the QBs are “all friends.”

“Obviously, every single one of us wants to play,” he adds. “But the reality about our position is that one guys plays. But since I got here, everyone has helped me with every little thing.

“It’s nice to have a good feeling in the room. We don’t dislike anyone; everyone is a good guy. We root for each other.

“Of course, we still want to kick each other’s butts …”

Notes: Daft on Life Without Wright: “He’s been a mainstay over the years, so, yeah, it’s a little bit different without Randy around. But all these guys are champing at the bit knowing they have an opportunity now.” … Tickets are available for the Aggie fan section at the season opener against Stanford (Aug. 30 at The Farm). To purchase seats, order through the Stanford Ticket Office. … Bus transportation is available through the UC Davis Ticket Office. Roundtrip is $40 and does not include a ticket. Visit www.ucdavisaggies.com/tickets/FBatStanford.html for links to that offer and other pregame activities for Aggie faithful. …Today’s workout begins at 9:15 a.m. at Toomey Field. Saturday’s practice (from 10:15 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.) is back at Aggie Stadium and is open to the public.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.

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