Aggies welcome Skyhawks in home opener

By From page B1 | September 05, 2014

Anyone familiar with UC Davis football coach Ron Gould knows his team’s focus is about “following the process … worrying about what we do, not the opponent.”

After a tough day at the office last weekend (a 45-0 loss at No. 13 Stanford), Gould’s Guys take the competition level down a notch (actually several notches) as Division-II Fort Lewis comes to Aggie Stadium on Saturday at 6 p.m.

The Skyhawks are coming off of a 4-7 season and have a virtually new defense.

But Gould doesn’t care. It’s about his Aggies and how much they improve from an uneven season-opening performance in which UCD sputtered on offense.

Senior quarterback London Lacy gets the call again in Saturday’s home opener.

“I didn’t feel there was any reason for me to make a change,” Gould said after his team gained but 115 total yards and waited until the final play of the game to cross midfield.

“I felt (Lacy) managed the game well. We had five dropped balls that had nothing to do with the quarterback. We had T.J. King, one of our better wide receivers, banged up (and out) early in the game. I didn’t see any reason to change … the thought never came up. Lacy was effective …  especially in terms of getting us in the right play.”

Gould added that he thought 14 of Lacy’s 15 audibles were correct. He just hopes overall unit timing and concentration improve.

The second-year Aggie mentor hinted this week at opening things up offensively.

Granted, Stanford didn’t allow for much flamboyancy. On seven possessions, UCD was buried inside its own territory. But Fort Lewis is a different story …

The Skyhawks were a team that allowed more than 30 points a game in 2013 — and with their leading tacklers, linebacker Joey Alvarez and cornerback Jamal Campbell, graduated, FLC coach John L. Smith candidly said he didn’t know who might replace his matriculated players.

Saturday is the ‘Hawks’ season debut and veteran signal-caller Max Baiz (823 yards passing, five touchdowns last season) has won the start from Jordan Doyle (995, five TDs). The pair split time last fall.

Gould said King (ankle) is out, but senior receivers Chris Martin, Corey Galindo are healthy and the freshman duo of Keelen Doss and Jermale Jefferson may celebrate with a coming-out party.

Doss (Alameda High) and Jefferson (Dorsey High) were high-profile prep stars who have shined in camp.

Jefferson caught two passes at The Farm last week, but for minus-2 yards. However, he carried three times, gaining 20 yards. His 17-yard run was the longest Aggie gain of the game.

Gould says Jefferson runs the 40 in 4.45 and he will move around in the offense: “Give defenses something to think about.”

At tailback, figure Colton Silveria (34 yards) and Justin Williams (36) again should share time with the 2013 Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year, Gabe Manzanares (1,285 yards, 11 TDs), still a week away, according to Gould.

On defense, the linebacking corps will be led by seniors Ryan Dimino and Steven Pitts with a strong secondary anchored by safety Charles Boyett. Leading 2013 tackler Boyett had nine stops against Stanford.

“This is another opportunity for the players to compete,” explained Gould, who reiterated that it doesn’t matter who the Aggies play — it’s about how they execute. “It’s another opportunity for us to take the next step in terms of growth and development.”

UCD knows the performance against Fort Lewis needs to be a big growth spurt. Coming Sept. 13: an away game at Football Bowl Subdivision Colorado State.

Notes: The Aggies are 2-2 against D-II competition since entering D-I in 2007. … Rocky Mountain, “Hi!” — Fort Lewis is the third Colorado school to play UCD. The Aggies are 5-1 against Northern Colorado and 1-0 with Mesa. … UCD needs three victories to reach 500 in program history. … The last time the Aggies faced a D-II foe, they posted a 41-3 decision over Azusa-Pacific in 2012. … UCD is 41-24-2 in home openers since 1947. … The Skyhawks are members of the Rocky Mountain Athlete Conference. … Aggie radio fans continue to get one of the best broadcast teams on the West Coast in Scott Marsh and Doug Kelly. But now the duo is joined by Barry Tompkins on KHTK (1140AM). One of the most recognizable and versatile broadcasters in the country for the past 40 years, Tompkins was hired this week. He will assume play-by-play duties, leaving Marsh and Kelly to provide analysis while imparting their extensive knowledge of the history and tradition of the UCD program. A four-time Emmy Award winner, Tompkins’ credits include broadcasting the Super Bowl, the World Series, eight Olympic Games, the Indianapolis 500, Grand Slam events for both golf and tennis and countless other sporting events — including Pac-12 college football and basketball. As a boxing announcer, he is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Pregame festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. Student radio station KDVS (90.3 FM) also carries the contest.

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

Bruce Gallaudet

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