You know that Aggie Pride thing? How UC Davis student-athletes are smart, accomplished and transcend sport once they graduate?
That reputation of being among the nation’s most intelligent competitors is coming in handy at spring football workouts.
“There is a tremendous amount of education,” new UCD head coach Ron Gould said two weeks ago, the day before he greeted 80-plus players at Aggie Stadium.
“We’re implementing a totally new offense, a totally new defense (and) terminology is different. There’s going to be a lot of learning and a lot of teaching that happens in the 15 practices of spring ball.”
No kidding …
I’ve been to a few of those workouts, and there is no question Gould has raised the bar — which is a scary proposition since retired Aggie coach Bob Biggs wasn’t exactly chopped liver.
Gould, an Oregon grad who spent almost two decades at Cal, is an offensive specialist with several personal gifts.
Among those special qualities, Gould is a man of deep religious faith; he also has deep faith in those around him. He allows his coaches to coach; he helps his players play; and in just four months he has opened sleepy Aggie eyes with his recruiting fervor, teaching technique and his dedication to making Division I football relevant at UCD.
“Trust” is a word you hear and see everywhere these days throughout Aggie Nation. It’s on the coach’s desk, his office wall and in his heart. You’re beginning to see it on T-shirts and you’re hearing it during drills — where coaches are reminding players to go all out.
Expect the block to be a good one. Know the linebacker will be in the assigned gap. Throw the ball before the cut — the receiver will be there.
In case you missed this newspaper’s recap of Day 1 of practice (“Gould Era …” April 3), it’s important to point out how UCD’s new coach has approached his work.
Upon arrival last December, Gould immediately began to cement his staff.
At the same time he conducted group and individual meetings with his new players. And all this was happening while he was working to ensure a sterling recruiting class.
Gould studied how he could make the herculean responsibility of playing football for the University of California at Davis less of an impact on his guys’ classroom requirements.
First, he made sure everything — from conditioning to chalk talks to rehab — was self-contained at Aggie Stadium. That provides a mental separation of student and athlete.
Then he moved spring ball to early morning (8:30 a.m.) and three times a week over five weeks. The session culminates with a Spring Preview, which is open to the public on April 27 at the stadium.
“We want these players to commit to the classroom,” Gould told me. “And we want their commitments to football as organized and simple as possible. They are students.”
Gould also has put in motion a practice schedule that is warp-speed. In these two-hour sessions, there is not a second wasted.
The coaches have schooled their players about what is expected. Everyone in Aggie practice gear (coaches included) is moving at game-pace. The linebackers, linemen, secondary, running backs, QBs, kickers — they’re all visited by an encouraging and focused Gould. But the messages are quick, to the point and many.
Like the coach says, there’s a lot of education going on.
But ours are the vaunted brainiacs of college sports.
UCD remains a squeaky-clean operation that hasn’t forgotten the principal reason Aggies are wearing the Blue and Gold: preparation for the real world.
However, something tells me that along the way, in Gould’s Brave New World, A’s in the classroom and touchdowns on La Rue Road will be very much in vogue (and wholly compatible) come fall.
Circle the calendar now. Saturday, April 27 (11 a.m.). The sneak peek at our new Aggies should be a revelation.
While I Have You Here: Gould would be a nice fit in the CIA. While I’ve received a solid feel for what’s in store next season, the new coach has observers sworn to secrecy.
Knowing Gould has placed a dozen running backs in the NFL (Jahvid Best of Detroit has been at Aggie camp), it will be no surprise that the Aggie ground game will be vastly improved.
Now, UCD announces, season-ticket holders can get in on the fun early.
Through April 25, those who have their tickets can win a workplace visit from mascot Gunrock or VIP access to an Aggie football practice. The “15 Prizes in 15 Days” promotion is being handled through UCD Athletic Tickets.
Call 530-752-AGS1 or visit www.ucdavisaggies.com to purchase tickets.
This new-look program should be exciting/interesting … Both sides of the ball have changed — and that’s all the media can say. (Sacramento State, you’ll get nothing out of this column, other than a suggestion: Notch your helmets a tad tighter on Nov. 23.)
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.