Kevin Daft is the UC Davis quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
His new positions under first-year Aggie football mentor Ron Gould feel like a perfect fit.
Daft, one of the holdovers from retired coach Bob Biggs’ staff, worked primarily with wide receivers last season at UCD.
Anyone who knows Aggie football knows that Daft understands a little something about the QB position …
A two-time All-American in the late 1990s, Daft set five NCAA Division II records while throwing for 7,601 yards and 68 touchdowns for the Blue-and-Gold.
He coached a season at UCD before spending seven at Cal. He is now reunited with Gould, who was the running backs coach in Berkeley during Daft’s time as a Golden Bears assistant.
“As soon as I got the (Davis) job, I knew I wanted to keep coach Daft,” Gould told The Enterprise after Tuesday morning’s spring workout at Aggie Stadium. “I knew he was going to buy into the philosophy of the team. He cares about the young men, he cares about … being great.”
Daft, who played and coached under the retired Biggs, said “every coach is different” and looks forward to the new Aggie era.
“I enjoyed my time working with coach Gould at Cal,” Daft explained. “I learned a lot from him … not just X’s and O’s, but how to manage players and get the most from them.
“At Cal, he had his running backs … but now he’s spread his wings and has control over a bigger group. That’s a great thing for (UCD).
“He has this special ability to get the most out of coaches and players. I know our coaches appreciate it and we’re all getting better every day.”
Gould and Daft share the same philosophy in that regard: “If you improve every day, you’re going in the right direction and you’re going places,” Daft added. “I respect (Gould) for what he’s done as a coach. It’s just a true blessing to able to work with him.”
A quick chat with returning quarterback Randy Wright will help even a casual observer sense a new-found fire in Aggie Pride.
“How is this year different?” Wright repeats a question. “More detail-oriented, for sure. We’re having a lot more fun, actually.”
Wright, who will be a senior this fall, likes the brisk pace of spring practice. He says he’s enjoying working with Daft, learning a new scheme that promises to be a high-octane, spread-the-field attack.
“The coaches are bringing a lot of enthusiasm … and we’re having good practices,” Wright continues, cautioning that it might be a little early for long-range team goals: “We’re just trying to learn the system. But when the season comes around, we’ll try to win every game.
“If you’re not trying to win every game, what are you playing for? Now we’re focused on one day at a time. But it’s definitely a new attitude. The coaches are inspiring us 24/7.”
Daft says Wright is progressing nicely and enjoys his enthusiasm:
“After the first day, a lot of guys felt like freshmen again. Embracing and understanding (the new offense) is part of the process. Everything is fresh and new. Every day it will click a bit more. It’s a journey between now and that first game (at South Dakota on Aug. 31.)”
Gould says he is pleased with spring ball, especially since his charges are going through a steep learning curve. Offense, defense, practice routine and terminology are all new.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with these young men,” Gould says. “It’s that word ‘trust.’ It’s the No. 1 thing with us. The (players) are learning to trust their coaches, trust each other. It’s all good. Things are going well.”
Daft again concurs …
“We’re just excited to get out here and practice,” the former Aggies adds. “It’s been a build-up the whole winter. The guys are working really hard. We’re still trying to find our playmakers and what their capabilities are. We’re extremely pleased with what we see so far.”
Notes: Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best (a former Gould disciple at Cal), Biggs and Jim Sochor — who as coach in the 1970s and ’80s put the Aggie football program on the map — attended Saturday’s workout. According to one UCD insider, Biggs and Sochor had two thumbs up for the New Guard. … Cal Deputy Director of Athletics Teresa Kuehn-Gould (the new Aggie coach’s wife) returned Tuesday from the women’s NCAA Final Four in New Orleans, in which the Bears lost to Louisville, 64-57, on Sunday. Kuehn-Gould — just named the NCAA sports administrator of the year — oversees women’s basketball. … Daft and his wife Kesa have two daughters, Talia, 6, and Caroline, 5. The Dafts are Davis residents.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.