Enough of this foolishness. It’s time to get a win.
When the UC Davis football team hosts Northern Arizona on Saturday, there are two pretty simple keys to that first Aggie win of the season: offensive consistency and eliminating mistakes.
Even though Nevada ground UCD for 525 yards in that 36-7 setback last week, it was the local offense’s inability to maintain possession that eventually put the defense on its heels.
In the 10-7 loss at South Dakota … Well, it was one of those games that as the Aggies look back 10 weeks from now they’ll say “How did that happen?”
Saturday, UCD fans home hope it’s onward and upward as the Lumberjacks play a nonconference game at Aggie Stadium (6 p.m. kickoff).
And the defense believes it is ready:
“We had 10 guys doing the right thing, then this one guy makes a mistake that just kills you,” defensive lineman Anthony Kaspar told The Enterprise in assessing what when wrong in his team’s 0-2 start.
“You need 11 guys all the time to run a successful defense. At this level, they’ll find (the weak link). Playing against Nevada, it was a great team and they’d find that one guy. It’s a matter of tightening it up.”
To that end, Aggie players and coaches have digested the game films, have worked on focus and have been running turnover drills, hoping to start knocking the ball loose — ending foes’ possession earlier to get breathers.
“I think we’ve played hard,” said UCD defensive end Nick King. “Like Anthony said, it’s one guy, one mistake. I’ve made mistakes, too. We played two very good teams and they’re going to exploit (every mistake the Aggies make).
“We’ve got a good base now, but there are things everyone can work on — tackling, turnovers, third-down stops … things like that.”
King added that his Aggies are a better team than the scoreboard indicates: “We’ve just been on the other side of the good plays. We’ll keep grinding.”
The Lumberjacks (0-1) are ranked No. 24 or 25 depending upon whose Football Championship Subdivision poll you read. They beat UCD, 21-7, in Flagstaff last year and, on paper, they held sway in their 35-0 loss at Arizona two weeks ago.
NAU quarterback Kyren Poe passed for twice as many yards as the Wildcats (176-87), the Lumberjacks won time of possession by a whopping margin — 40:16-19:44 — and were down just 14-0 at halftime.
It was three interceptions and four big scoring plays that did in NAU.
Rushing for more than 300 yards, Arizona backs scored from 91, 30 and 61 yards out. The ‘Cats also ran scored on an interception.
Hmmm. NAU gave up a lot of ground yardage. That’s something the new breed of Aggie running backs might be able to capitalize on.
Even with last week’s ace Manusamoa Luuga (85 yards) out with a sprained wrist, head coach Ron Gould is still holding a full house.
Gabe Manazanares (shoulder), Tavior Mowry and Colton Silveria are healthy.
Gould smiles when he talks about his backfield for Saturday.
“Gabe (is) the starter,” the first-year coach declared, reminding the media his junior transfer had 91 yards against South Dakota. “I’m very pleased with the running backs’ practice and performances. But I don’t expect anything less from those guys in the future.”
And Jimmy Laughrea? Gould says the Rocklin kid by way of Boise State will be back under center. Laughrea (pronounced LOCK-ray) has a 101.22 passing efficiency rating and has passed for 228 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions on 19-of-37 passing.
He’s also rushed for a net 25 yards.
“We’ve got to do a better job offensively keeping drives going and making sure we’re scoring when we’ve got an opportunity,” Gould continued. “We’ve been too many times in the red zone, coming up empty too many times. You look at the film and you say ‘Man, this should be a touchdown, right there!’ I can’t ask the coordinator (Kevin Daft) to make better calls.”
Gould expects the mistakes on both sides of the ball to either be things of the past or not as disturbing as in the last two weeks.
The coach echoes Kaspar and King when he says it’s “the little things” that are biting the Aggies in the behind.
“The guys are doing awesome,” Gould reported earlier in the week. “Their spirits are up and the guys are working hard. We’re looking forward to being at home, having the opportunity to compete and get better. We’re fired up.”
Notes: Northern Arizona features RB Zach Bouman, who can establish a school career rushing record with 48 yards on Saturday. … Jerome Souers wasn’t happy that his Lumberjacks got knocked off the ball on those big plays against Arizona on Aug. 30. He says NAU “has appreciated the opportunity to get rested up,” but adds a bye week is a “double-edged sword. You have a strong sense of what you need to improve … but you also need (to get) traction from one week to the next, try to keep things fresh. Playing (a new scheme), there’s always a concern about being able to get lined up and what the intent of their offense is.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-78047.