Aggie football fans will get a little taste of what to expect from their 2014 team when UC Davis hosts its final spring scrimmage on Saturday at Aggie Stadium.
In full uniform, the Aggies will square off in the intrasquad session at 11 a.m. Admission is free.
So what’s in store for those in attendance?
“Fans will see a very proud team,” says second-year head coach Ron Gould. “(They will see) a disciplined team that has another opportunity Saturday to get better.”
A four-quarter clock will be employed and fans will get a chance to meet the players after the scrimmage.
UCD finished last season 5-7. It went 5-3 in Big Sky Conference play after losing its first four outings.
This year, UCD opens its 11-game schedule Aug. 30 at nationally ranked Stanford. Then comes the home opener against Fort Lewis (Colorado) on Sept. 6 and a trip to Colorado State (Sept. 13).
Conference play gets underway Sept. 27 when Big Sky champion Eastern Washington comes to town.
Another 0-4 start for the Aggies?
“No way,” UCD running back Gabe Manzanares told The Enterprise Thursday. “We’re going to be ready to go.”
Manzanares gained 1,285 yards as a junior. The City College of San Francisco transfer scored 11 touchdowns and earned Big Sky Newcomer of the Year honors.
“The schedule is a great opportunity for us to showcase what we can do,” continues the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder. “No doubt it’s going to be challenging, but we look forward to it.”
Manzanares (toe) could miss Saturday’s exhibition, but Aggie Nation should get a full plate of his talented backfield brother Manusamoa Luuga.
The to-be sophomore RB, by way of Long Beach Poly High, has been tearing it up this spring.
“Manu has done an unbelievable job this spring — I mean unbelievable,” says an enthusiastic Gould. “He’s made some runs and cuts, some that have been quite sensational. He’s learned how to pass protect. He’s just grown leaps and bounds.
“It’s been a treat to see this young man come out of his shell.”
New to UCD camp this spring are quarterback Turner Baty (BAY-tee) and linebacker Travon Brooks.
Baty, like Manzanares, is a CCSF product (although neither played together there). The junior is expected to add mobility and downfield range. He and senior London Lacy are in what Gould calls “a battle” to take over for the departed four-year starter Randy Wright.
Brooks — an imposing 6-2, 245-pound MLB — comes from Contra Costa College and joins to an already talented group of linebackers.
As solid as guys like Brooks, Baty and Manzanares are, Gould cautions that nothing is guaranteed come next fall.
“Everybody has to earn the right to say they’re a starter, then keep competing for that spot,” explains the former Cal assistant. “If you were a starter last year, that has no bearing on this year.”
With that said, it comes as no surprise when Gould says keen competition is going on at virtually every position.
“(Saturday) should be fun for fans to come out and see the steps that we’re taking,” Gould continues. “Our last (spring) opportunity to get better … I see the players coming out to seize the opportunity. (Fans) will see the discipline and the enthusiasm. They’ll see great effort.”
Associate Athletic Director Mike Robles says makeshift rosters will be provided to those attending Saturday. The scoreboard will be working and the voice of the Aggies, Larry Swanson, should be heard on the public-address system.
Notes: Season tickets are on sale now. Call 530-752-AGS1 or visit www.ucdavisaggies.com to purchase now. … Gould likes what he’s seen over the past month of spring workouts: “Overall, I’ve been really pleased with the effort and how hard and fast our defense is playing.” About the offense: “We’ve got a lot of offense in. Going into this final week, we just wanted to see guys continue to improve and continue to tighten things up.” Fans can judge Saturday if their Aggies have improved from their 2013 season-ending 34-7 demolition of Sacramento State.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.