It came as no surprise this week when UC Davis coach Ron Gould was coy when talking about starting positions for Saturday’s season-opener at Stanford. He likes to play things close to the vest.
But it also was no surprise when Gould let one cat out of the bag: Against the Cardinal, a familiar face, Ian Joseph, will be at offensive left tackle for the 35th consecutive game of his Aggie career.
The big pre-med senior hasn’t missed a start since coming to town from El Dorado High three years ago. And Gould says nothing has changed as ol’ No. 77 again will have the back of whomever is named UCD’s quarterback.
“He is the consummate professional,” says Gould, who is about to launch his second season as Aggie head coach. “Ian comes to practice with a lot of energy; does a great job accepting constructive criticism; he’s one of the mainstays in buying into and investing in the program.”
In three years toiling on former QB Randy Wright’s blind side, only a handful of times did Joseph’s man get a sack. But Gould (and before him UCD coach Bob Biggs) believe their star tackle has been equally adept at run blocking.
To wit, in 2013, tailback Gabe Manzanares rambled for 1,285 yards, with Joseph a welcome convoy on many of his journeys. Manzanares’ 10 rushing touchdowns had Joseph clearing the path on several more occasions.
Despite Joseph’s contributions, his Aggie teams have gone 13-21 since 2011. He believes this fall will be different …
“It seems like we have some unfinished business. … (We want) this to be a continuation of what we started last year,” Joseph told The Enterprise. “A lot is different: the mind-set because Coach G preaches about the focus, the intensity. … We’re building further on what we built last year.”
Aggie fans remember that UCD started 0-4 before getting in gear during Big Sky Conference. A 34-7 shellacking of Sacramento State in the finale brought the locals’ record up to 5-7.
Despite a rugged schedule that includes two Football Bowl Subdivision schools in Stanford and Colorado State (Sept. 13) and a conference opener against Football Bowl Subdivision No. 1-ranked Eastern Washington (Sept. 27), Joseph and Company have set their goals high.
“Are we a Big Sky contender?” Joseph repeats a question. “That’s our goal: The seniors have talked about it. Corey Galindo, Charles Boyett, all my teammates who have been here since Day One. We want a ring, nothing else. Nothing less for all the hard work our coaches and my teammates have put in.”
Joseph, not keen to dwell on last season’s missed opportunities, points to the Northern Arizona and South Dakota losses as outings that could have gone UCD’s way with just one play being different.
“Really, we have multiple games that could have gone either way,” he explains. “That’s one of the things I think we gained this year. Start fast and finish strong, instead of waiting a couple of quarters to get in rhythm or petering out in last quarter or two.”
While Joseph has been sterling in providing paths for his ball-carrying brethren, nearing graduation he’s building foundations that could provide him with a couple of paths of his own.
The pre-med student, whose mother Kathryn Locatell is a doctor, last spring interned in the UC Davis Medical Center emergency room and more recently shadowed area cardiologists.
“I think I would be a great doctor in terms of giving care to people,” says Joseph. “I love people so much — and building relationships.”
There’s still the matter of football. And the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Joseph is good enough — if he wants it, says Gould — to play at that “next level.”
“Athletically, he’s exactly what they look for in the NFL,” says the former Cal associate head coach, who helped send dozens of players on to the professional ranks during his 16 seasons in Berkeley. “To say he’s a next-level guy, all he has to do is continue to perform; continue to do the things he’s done to date.
“If he’s doing the things he’s supposed to do for us, then good things will happen after that.”
Joseph says a trip to the NFL would be just fine by him.
“I’ve been thinking about it more and more,” the personable Joseph admits. “It wasn’t a goal when I first came here. I came to college to become a doctor. Football was always a means to an end.
“Now that I’ve improved and believe in my coaches’ visions for me, I realize I do have an opportunity — and I’m not one to squander an opportunity.”
Hear, hear, Ian. Keep thinking like that, especially when the Aggies are first and goal this fall.
Notes: Ian’s parents, Kathryn Locatell and Calvin Joseph, have been “huge influences.” The tackle’s sister Sophie is working now that she’s graduated from high school, but is saving money to attend an acting academy. … While at El Dorado High, Joseph was a three-sport standout, earning All-Pioneer Valley League honors in football and track and the school’s Most Inspirational basketball player. … Gould calls Joseph The Dancing Bear “because of his quick feet and size.” Gould continued: “He’s like a son to me. When I took the job, he’s one of the first guys that said ‘Hey, coach, whatever you need to get done, we’ll get it done for you.’ “
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-320-4456.