Enterprise staff writer
The relationship between the offensive and defensive units of a football team is unique during practice because on each play, oneÕs success is the otherÕs failure.
Over the course of the season, the UC Davis football team will spend approximately 175 hours on the practice field so there will be plenty of positives and negatives to go around.
ThatÕs why the players try to take a big-picture outlook and realize that if their teammates are making plays in practice, itÕs likely to mean good things to come in games. Failure on one side of the ball also helps highlight areas that need improvement.
ÒIÕd say itÕs like two brothers,Ó Aggie linebacker Marshall Congdon said about the relationship. ÒWeÕre always kind of fighting but in the end, working toward the same common goal to get each other better.Ó
UCD running back Josh Reese added, ÒIt definitely brings out a lot of competitiveness in us on both sides of the ball. But everybody is still striving to win games so it balances out nicely.Ó
Aggie head coach Bob Biggs said he encourages the friendly rivalry between the two units in practice, particularly in training camp, because it helps the team get better. The best way for the first-string offense to improve and get ready for the season is to go against the first-string defense, and vice versa.
While the scout team certainly tries hard, the group is made up mainly of freshmen who are redshirting and whose primary goal is to help the team prepare for the tendencies of an upcoming opponent. That means learning either a new offense or defense every week, and that makes it hard to go all out while ensuring theyÕre still getting to the right spots on the field.
ÒTheyÕre pushing each other because they want to get better,Ó Biggs said of the first-stringers. ÒIf you were mentoring a younger brother to get him ready for some athletic challenge, youÕre not going to go easy on him. YouÕre going to go hard on him to get him as ready as you possibly can, but at the same time you love him and you want to try to help him also.Ó
Reese said that while heÕd prefer to see the offense firing on all cylinders during practice, itÕs not necessarily a bad thing for the defense to play well and not allow big chunks of yards left and right.
ÒItÕs good because it means our defense is flying around and theyÕre going to be able to make plays in the games,Ó the Davis High graduate said. ÒFrom an offensive perspective, it shows us things we still have to work on.Ó
With a group of teammates spending so much time on the field together in a sport with so much contact, skirmishes during practice are only natural.
Biggs said while he doesnÕt condone dustups, he realizes they are often just a heat-of-the-moment thing. He added that his players do a good job of policing themselves to prevent any major incidents from happening.
ÒThere are pushing matches but I tell them that theyÕre just wasting everybodyÕs time and itÕs not productive,Ó Biggs said. ÒTempers are going to flare because theyÕre competitive and want to win. We havenÕt had anything where guys need to be pulled off each other.Ó
Though the bottom line of practice is to improve and get ready for the upcoming game, there is still room to have some fun both on and off the field when one player gets the better of a teammate.
ÒOff the field, we always kind of joke about what happened in practice that day,Ó Congdon said. ÒBut in the end, itÕs all in good fun.Ó
Reese added, ÒThere are always times to tease a little bit but we all know sometimes you get him and sometimes you donÕt. ThatÕs just the way the game is.Ó
But at the end of the day, the guys the Aggies are hoping to get the better of are their next opponents Ñ this week, thatÕs the San Diego Toreros.
Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8049. Comment on this story or check out The Enterprise sports blog at www.davisenterprise.com. To view photo galleries and purchase prints of UCD football visit http://photos.davisenterprise.com