The UC Davis football team has a long list of things to work on during its bye week after falling to Northern Arizona (21-7) and Portland State (49-21) in its last two games.
In particular, the Aggies are going to have to find a way to shore up their run defense, which looked more like a sieve than a wall against the Lumberjacks and Vikings. UCD gave up 204 yards to NAU on the road two weeks ago, before being absolutely shredded by PSU for 280 yards at Aggie Stadium on Saturday night.
Viking running back D.J. Adams was particularly troublesome for the Aggies, churning out 139 yards, including 74 of them on a 98 yard-drive that put his team up 28-14 with 5:17 to go in the third quarter, all but finishing UCD off.
“I thought (Adams) ran well, but obviously they were blocking at the point of attack,” UCD head coach Bob Biggs said after the game. “The play they were calling for him (was one) where they were pulling their big guys around (to block), and we just didn’t have people at the point of attack.
“To play against a team that’s physical, you’ve got to play like your hair is on fire. You’ve got to play with great passion and (be) very physical and attacking at the point of attack and taking (blockers) out when they pull.”
The Aggies’ inability to stop the run in that game also left them vulnerable to the play-action pass, which Vikings quarterback Kieran McDonagh turned to several times en route to throwing for 230 yards on the night.
That balance between passing and running prevented the UCD defense from settling down and allowed the Vikings to put up a monstrous 530 yards of total offense.
The Aggies will have to find a way to stop or at least slow down the run when they travel to Eastern Washington in two weeks or things could get ugly. The seventh-ranked Eagles are even more adept than PSU at setting up the pass with the run, averaging 141.1 yards on the ground and 286.5 yards through the air per game.
Fortunately, UCD has shown the ability to shut down the run in other games this season, meaning fixing the problem could just be a matter of refocusing.
The Aggies held Montana State and Idaho State — their two opponents before NAU and PSU — to a combined 122 yards rushing.
“We need to stay in our gaps and do our jobs,” said defensive lineman Walter Ernest. “We kind of fell out of that.”
A bye week should be a perfect way to fill those gaps again.
— Reach Will Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org