“We’re playing one of the pre-eminent powerhouses in the country,” UC Davis football coach Ron Gould says of his Aggies’ season opener Saturday at No. 11 Stanford.
“We’ll get a little national attention and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Cardinal coach David Shaw believes UCD is not a squad to be taken lightly:
“We saw how they finished last year (going 5-3 down the stretch in a 5-7 campaign). They played hard … and they’ve brought in some new players. I think we’re getting a team that comes in here with a chip on its shoulders.”
So, in trying to stir the pot, does the 2005 Stanford loss to UCD bother Shaw? Remember, the Aggies won 20-17 the last time the two schools played on The Farm.
Or are the Cardinal especially in the sights of the Ol’ Golden Bear? Remember, Gould was an assistant at Cal for 16 years.
“Not all at,” the Stanford coach told The Enterprise, when asked if that upset was in the psyche of his program. “(The loss) was two years before I got back. None of these players were even in high school yet. There’s been no mention of it.”
During Gould’s stay in Berkeley, Cal went 7-9. Any thoughts of this being a Little Big Game?
“I don’t consider that at all,” Gould said in the first week of camp.
In playing a Pac-12 giant that some experts have on their national-championship radar, what does UCD — a Football Championship Subdivision team — have to do to stay competitive, or even win?
“Make sure we don’t get outside ourselves,” Gould explains. “We have to play extremely well. Compete. We can’t afford to take plays off. Stanford is very physical, well-coached and has team speed.”
If there is a matchup to exploit, it might be the Aggie linebackers and defensive line against the new-look Stanford offensive front.
Before UCD fans get too excited with the news that four of Stanford’s O-linemen are first-year starters, let it be known that Shaw believes his new guys are “the greatest collection of offensive linemen in recruiting history.” Seriously.
All-American tackle Andrus Peat (6-foot-7, 316 pounds) is joined by guard Josh Garnett (6-5, 325) on the left side. Center Graham Shuler is the shrimp of the group at 6-4, 287 with Kyle Murphy (6-7, 300) and Johnny Caspers (6-4, 297) on the right.
Stanford has been an establish-the-run kind of squad in recent years — and against UCD, the early going should be no different. The Cardinal has a host of tailbacks, and Shaw plans to use most of them.
However, there stands a deep corps of Aggie linebackers who will try to slow down the Stanford ground game.
Anchored by outside veterans Ryan Dimino and Steven Pitts, the UCD middle will be patrolled by either Brady Stibi or JC transfer Travon Brooks. With Artice Nelson and Russell Reeder among those waiting in the wings, defensive coordinator Bert Watts should be able to throw wave after wave of fresh LBs into the fray.
But if defensive tackles Inoke Raikadroka (6-0, 295) and Kyle DeVaughn (5-11, 285) can’t dam up some gaps, the linebackers will be passing Stanford running backs off to safety Charles Boyett (last year’s leading tackler) and his pals in the secondary.
Pitts says the linebackers have to “make the tackles and blow up plays this year … get turnovers and get us off the field.”
Forcing Stanford into mistakes would go a long way toward keeping UCD in the game.
Or what if the Aggies win?
Notes: Bad news for Stanford opponents: Wide receiver/kick returner Ty Montgomery (shoulder) has been cleared to play on Saturday. As a junior, Montgomery caught 61 passes for 958 yards and 10 scores. He also returned two punts for scores. … Game time is 1 p.m. and is on KHTK (1140 AM) with Scott Marsh and Doug Kelly at the microphones. The game is televised by the Pac-12 Network. … Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan is 16-3 as a starter and has won 10 of 11 games against Top-25 teams. He threw for 2,630 yards and 20 TDs as the Cardinal went 11-3 last season. UCD counters with either senior London Lacy or sophomore Ben Scott at QB — neither of whom threw a pass in 2013. … Before the Aggies upset Stanford nearly a decade ago, they lost 59-0 to the then-Indians in 1932. That demolition remains the worst loss in school history. … Colton Silveria (1,160 career rushing yards) gets the start at running back for the Aggies. But don’t be surprised to see a heavy helping of redshirt freshman Justin Williams. The Oceanside native (El Camino High) has been impressive in practice. By the way, Gould insists last year’s leading ground-gainer Gabe Manzanares (1,285 and 10 TDs) will return from a spring foot injury. His planned backup, Manu Luuga, is out with a wrist injury. … UC Davis earns a $350,000 payday for this weekend’s trip to Palo Alto.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.