Enterprise staff writer
Every college football team has a bye week at some point during the season.
On the heels of two straight victories Ñ including a 17-13 win over South Dakota in the Great West opener Ñ UC Davis was off on Saturday. Aggie head coach Bob Biggs saw positives and negatives about the timing of the bye.
On one hand, UCD has been playing better, looking good against the Coyotes and San Jose State the week before. But on the other, theyÕve had some injuries and the week off will give those players time to heel.
ÒI have mixed feelings about it,Ó Biggs said. ÒI do think weÕre playing well. But there are a lot of areas we can improve on and weÕve got a few players who are banged up that we have a chance to get back, and that will help us.Ó
UCD senior wide receiver Sean Creadick said that it could be worse Ñ the Aggies could be coming off a pair of losses going into their weekend off as they were in 2009.
ÒIf you lose going into the bye week, you have to wait another week to get it out of your mind,Ó Creadick said. ÒA win definitely feels good going into the bye week. Obviously after a big win in our conference opener, weÕd like to keep playing, but we have a couple guys who are injured so this is a good time for them to get healthy.Ó
In past years, Biggs has had his teams work on fundamentals during the bye week and saved the game preparation for the week of the next game.
But South Alabama, UCDÕs upcoming opponent, is a complete unknown. The Jaguars are a second-year program which is 13-0 over the past two years and, following a 26-0 win over Lamar on Saturday, have outscored those opponents 603-71. They are racking up nearly 450 yards per game. However, the level of competition is severely lacking as theyÕve played mainly secondary prep and lower division schools.
So rather than wait until the upcoming week to get ready for South Alabama, the Aggies (3-3, 1-0) spent some time game-planning during an abbreviated practice schedule this week.
ÒThe earlier we can get a tentative game plan in and get as many reps as we can against each other, I think weÕll be good,Ó Biggs said. ÒWe gave them Monday off, which is our normal day off, and then we (practiced) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We … (gave) the kids Friday and Saturday off and (will) come back on (today) for film and more conditioning.Ó
The Aggies played a sluggish first half against Football Bowl Subdivision San Jose State on Oct. 2,
before turning it around after the break and earning an impressive 14-13 upset victory. UCD carried that momentum over to the Homecoming game against South Dakota and had its most complete effort of the season on Oct. 9.
Redshirt freshman QB Randy Wright has been improving and the coaching staff took the training wheels off in the second half against San Jose State. He orchestrated the game-winning touchdown drive in that contest and then was poised in taking the open short passes against the Coyotes.
As has been the case for a couple years now, the Aggies have been hit-or-miss Ñ but mostly miss Ñ with their running game. UCD posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against San Diego and Weber State but its next best effort was 70 and the Aggies have been held under 37 yards three times.
Though opponents have been able to move the ball against the UCD defense Ñ San Diego was the only team the Aggies held under 300 yards of offense and the Toreros gained 296 Ñ the unit has stiffened up in the red zone.
UCDÕs foes have scored on 20-of-24 trips into the red zone, but have only 11 touchdowns (the Aggies are 15-for-17 with 10 TDs). The 4.33 points allowed per red zone trip ranks UCD 33rd out of 125 Football Championship Subdivision teams.
Senior linebacker Dozie Amajoyi has been all over the place and has 54 tackles, including 22 solo, and two interceptions, all of which are tops on the Aggies. He also has four tackles-for-loss and
a forced fumble.
Free safety Danny Hart, also a senior, has been having a stellar season with 44 tackles and two pass breakups, while making sure the UCD defense is organized. Junior linebacker Jordan Glass has been solid in his first year with the team and has made 38 tackles with 3.5 for a loss.
ÒThe team is getting better and better every week,Ó Creadick said. ÒWe still have a lot to improve on, as always, but I think weÕre finally getting it together. Randy is on track and our offense is clicking a little more. Our defense is playing outstanding and theyÕre really the reason weÕve been in a lot of these games.Ó
For his part, Biggs would like to see the team continue to play at this level every week, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
ÒI wish we were a little bit more consistent offensively, but I like the way weÕre playing defense right now,Ó Biggs said. ÒWe do have to shore up the run game a little bit and get a little bit better at stopping the run. WeÕre playing hard and fast and thatÕs the first thing I evaluate when I put on the film.Ó
UCD has five games remaining and still has everything to play for. If the Aggies win out, theyÕll almost certainly get one of 20 spots in the FCS playoffs, while going 4-1 (to put them at 7-4 for the year) could get them there also.
Great West play has only just begun and the defending conference champions still control their own destiny, though it will not be easy.
UCD gets Southern Utah at home on Oct. 30 Ñ the Aggies fell, 56-35, in Cedar City, Utah last year Ñ while facing North Dakota (Nov. 6) and No. 13 Cal Poly (Nov. 13) on the road. ThereÕs also the Causeway Classic against Sacramento State to finish the year on Nov. 20.
Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at [email protected] 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