To say they had their chances is beating a dead horse.
UC Davis football coaches and players have seen the game film. Execution was the problem.
And, often, such is life for a team in transition.
But as disturbing as it was to sit through an encore of Saturday’s 10-7 season-opening loss at South Dakota (1-0), there is consolation …
All the pieces were there.
“What do I take away from the films?” new Aggie coach Ron Gould repeated the question. “We have a lot to learn.
“But I saw we were real physical on the offensive line, our tight ends played well and the backs ran hard.”
Gould’s checklist of positives included praising a defensive unit that held Coyotes QB Josh Vanden Mater to 91 yards passing. He applauded freshman punter Colby Wadman for his efforts and said his new-look Ags (0-1) were in good condition at the end:
“We weren’t tired. The offense and defense played hard for 60 minutes. I was very pleased with our physical conditioning.”
For die-hard UCD football fans, the 267 yards total offense — especially against a team coming off a 1-10 season — was a balloon-popping debut.
The Aggies players were even less thrilled.
“They were sick (with some of the things the players saw in the film),” Gould told The Enterprise. “Right now, the No. 1 thing we have to do is sustain blocks, follow (the play). We do that, we’re going to be OK.”
Offensively, City College of San Francisco transfer Gabe Manzanares hinted at the future when he gained 91 yards on 18 carries. The junior made something out of nothing on several occasions and scored UCD’s only touchdown.
RB Tavior Mowry’s limited role nonetheless paid dividends: 37 yards rushing (4.1 avg.).
However, there was uneven quarterback play, something the Aggies vow to take a closer look at this week.
Four-year starter Randy Wright went 7-for-14, good for but 60 yards.
In his second-quarter introduction to Aggie Nation, Boise State transfer Jimmy Laughrea was 6-for-10, but again, just 50 net yards. He did lead UCD inside the 5, but that drive died with a block of Brady Stuart’s field goal (his second miss of the game). Laughrea also had a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tom Hemmingsen called back.
“It’s something we’re going to re-evaluate,” Gould promised, adding that no decisions have been made as to who will be Saturday’s starter. “The competition is up in the air and we’ll see how things go this week.”
The task for Saturday?
Play a crabby Nevada (0-1) on the road.
The Football Bowl Subdivision Wolf Pack is coming off a 58-20 shellacking at UCLA.
“We’re going to face a great Nevada team,” said Gould, pointing out that the Bruins held only a 17-13 lead early in the third quarter. “They let it get away from them.”
UCD knows the feeling.
Gould says there were a couple of times during which his Aggies could have taken control of the game, but didn’t due to misreads, a bad throw, a fundamental breakdown, not converting in enemy territory and the list goes on …
No more Tuesday Afternoon Quarterbacking. This horse isn’t dead yet. Gould says that what went wrong on the lone prairie is “correctable.”
Notes: Effective immediately — and until further notice — Aggie practices have been closed to the public. Gould said Monday he felt South Dakota got some information and the coach thinks he knows where it came from: “There was a guy in the stands, taking notes,” Gould said. “I looked up a couple of times … he’d stop, fold his arms. I thought, ‘There’s something fishy about this.’ ” Despite it being the first game of the year, both defenses seemed to have a handle on what the other was doing. … Left guard Kevin Gavigan is OK, according to Gould. Late against the Coyotes, Gavigan was carted off on a stretcher after suffering a neck twinge. No word on whether he’ll suit up this week.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047.