Friday, July 25, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Running Back U? New-era Aggies not there — yet

Taking a break from preparing to take UCD's running game to the next level are, from left, Taylor Mowry, Gabe Manzanares, Derek Baljeu, Justin Williams, offensive coordinator Kevin Daft, head coach Ron Gould, running backs coach Bryan Wright, Colton Silveria, Dalton Turay, Manusamoa Luuga and Kenny Brookins. Aggie running back Jonathan Maricic, not pictured, also is expected to contribute. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

By
From page B1 | August 18, 2013 |

It’s not Running Back U … yet.

However, from a UC Davis backfield that could be called Crowded House during these summer workouts, there is sure to emerge a head-turning ground game once the Aggie season opens in less than two weeks at South Dakota.

You see, new head coach Ron Gould has the Midas Touch when it comes to ball-carriers. And his RB assistant Bryan Wright seems to have embraced all things Gould in teaching his Aggie players.

It’s well-documented that Gould — in 16 seasons at Cal — put a baker’s dozen running backs on NFL rosters.

With former Golden Bears like Shane Vereen, Jahvid Best, Justin Forsett, J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch having made their bones as pros (and current rookies C.J. Anderson of the Denver Broncos and the St. Louis Rams’ Eric Stevens making preseason noise this summer), Gould has proved his ability as a top-flight mentor.

After two weeks of camp, Wright and Gould like what they see from their eight-man corps of running backs. The pair agree that the intensity, energy and ability is there and that competition for playing time has been healthy.

The question leading into the Aug. 31 season opener? Who will start and how will the others fit into the rotation?

Gould says playing time will work itself out.

Fullback Dalton Turay and tailback Colton Silveria have provided veteran leadership and looked solid in practice, Wright tells The Enterprise. But freshmen Justin Williams (El Camino, Oceanside) and Manu Luuga (Long Beach Poly) are Gould recruits who apparently have the right stuff while getting good reviews.

“Justin is a fierce competitor,” Gould says. “He’s tough as all nails … very passionate about the game.

“Manu is athletic and played at a very high level, competing against top talent every year. He knows what it is to play before big crowds, and play with a lot talent around him.”

Wright says Silveria, who led the Aggies with 621 yards rushing last season, has a veteran aura about him that inspires the younger players.

“Colton comes with a lot of experience … (he’s) one of our leaders,” explains the first-year Aggie assistant who spent the past five years at Michigan. “And to come back as strong as he has (from a hip injury) says a lot about Colton. He exudes Aggie Pride and strength.”

Given his success developing next-level running backs (guys who blew it up in college, too), what does Gould think makes for a good running back?

“A guy that has a little edge to him, call it competitive spirit. The guy has to have some football savvy, some toughness. (A good running back) is someone who makes plays when things break down; a guy that has a burning desire to have the ball in his hands. He wants it.”

In assessing recruits, what are Gould and Wright looking for?

“First and foremost, a high-character kid,” Gould says. “And academics are very important to us. Sure, some ability, but a guy that’s competitive, I mean super-competitive.”

That could be any one of the eight Aggies looking to carry the colors this fall.

Running backs Taylor Mowry (Westlake High, Agoura Hills), Gabe Manzanares (San Francisco CC), Kenny Brookins (Parker, Chula Vista), Jonathan Maricic (Elsinore) and Derek Baljeu (Edison, Huntington Beach) have each shown hot hands in at least one workout, and give UCD quality depth at a position at which it has struggled in recent seasons.

For Silveria, Gould’s style contrasts vividly to that of retired Aggie coach Bob Biggs.

“There’s a big difference in the speed of practice,” the Shasta Lake native says. “We’re almost replicating game speed in practice. And we’re doing it every day. It’s something I’ve never felt before.

“It’s really good to feel that in practice — that way we’re not going to be shocked (at the pace) in the game.”

Williams, who set El Camino single season (2,345 yards and 24 touchdowns) and career (3,660) rushing marks, agrees with Silveria, emphasizing this isn’t high school anymore …

“The difference? Tempo. We’re getting maximum reps in. Coach Wright and coach Gould are pushing us to become better backs. Every thing is game-speed, game-speed. If you’re not included in the play, go find some work, go hit someone.”

Williams (5-9,202) was heavily recruited (by San Diego State, Fresno State and Nevada, among others), but chose the new regime at Davis.

“When I took my visit to UCD, I felt it was the place for me in terms of an education … and being able to play for coach Wright and the legendary coach Gould,” Williams adds.

Over the past 10 years, UCD has rushed for about 12,000 yards. During the same period, Gould’s crew in Berkeley had gone for more than 23,000 yards.

All that said, will local fans see an exciting running game as early as this season? An attack that’s the hallmark of Aggie years to come?

“Absolutely,” says Gould, keeping secret exactly what kind of offense is being fine-tuned. “To me, it’s still about balance. We have to (pass and run), but in the future I’d love to have Aggie Nation see the run game emerge here.”

Wright can already feel that new rumble on the ground …

“Is this Running Back U?” the running backs coach repeats the question. “I like to think so. It’s been a quarterback-dominated university … but the backs are here. We think of the running backs as the heart of the offense.”

Now, to figure out who gets to carry the mail.

Notes: Fan Fest is Saturday. The new event replaces the Blue-Gold Scrimmage, but Gould has opened the morning (10:15 a.m.-12:20 p.m.) practice to the public. Not only will folks be allowed on Sochor Field at Aggie Stadium for a meet-and-greet with coaches and players, they’ll be able to get autographs and have pictures taken with the players. According to UCD officials, “more interactive activities are planned.” The Aggie Pride Outlet will be selling old UCD uniforms and other memorabilia. … There was a scary moment in practice Saturday morning when safety Aaryn Jones went down in a heap after making a nifty interception. Jones was down for a couple of minutes, attended by staff. It was apparently a shoulder injury, but Jones quickly shrugged off the effects and was his normal, menacing self a few snaps later. … The Aggies visited the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Sacramento on Thursday. … Wright was a graduate offensive assistant at Michigan last year. … Former Davis High standout Courtney Williams (who had a terrific freshman season for UCD) is out for the year with a knee injury. Otherwise the intrigue for playing time at tailback would have been even thicker. … Offensive lineman Ian Joseph (6-6, 300) celebrated his 21st birthday Saturday and his teammates sang to him at midfield after practice. Mercifully, there are no recording contracts in the offing for this Aggie team. … Former Aggie Colton Schmidt punted three times for an average of 48 yards for the San Francisco 49ers in Friday’s 15-13 exhibition win over Kansas City. One of his boots went 62 yards.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8047.

Bruce Gallaudet

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    California climate change policies to hit our pocketbooks

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    Tech Trekkers boldly go into STEM fields

    By Amy Jiang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Decoding breast milk secrets reveals clues to lasting health

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Carwash raises funds for funeral expenses

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Hey, we want more than one thin dime

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Appeals court upholds high-speed rail route

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Artists, photographers invited to support Yolo Basin Foundation

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Unitarians will host summer camp

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sudwerk’s sales grow, floating on a sea of dry hop lager

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Wetlands visitors will see migrating shorebirds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    ‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Explorit: Wonderful wetlands right at home

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Recycle old paint cans for free

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Where your gas money goes

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A12

    Americans, internationals make connections

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

     
    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

    STEAC needs donations of personal care items

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Forum

    Trio disagrees on best option

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Thanks for emergency help

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Commenting system to change

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10, 16 Comments

     
    Support these local restaurants

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Let’s get the bench repaired

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Predicting climate changes

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

    Clinton’s book is worth a read

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Sports

    Hudson solid, Hamels better in Giants’ loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Petrovic, Putnam share Canadian Open lead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Moss powers A’s past Astros

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Enriquez brilliant, but Post 77 season ends with Area 1 loss

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘A Most Wanted Man’: Superb espionage drama

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Clyde Elmore: Art in the Wild

    By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Musicians perform at Sunday service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A17 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Accord’s latest model is most fuel efficient

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Mary Lita Bowen

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    James Thomas Feather

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Richard ‘Dick’ Robenalt

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, July 25, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Sherman Home

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4