Patience. Coaches, at least good ones, usually possess tons of the stuff.
Take UC Davis first-year football mentor Ron Gould …
Off the field, soft-spoken. In practice, the former Cal assistant is demanding, doesn’t suffer fools and wants perfection.
However, Gould also understands that his emerging Aggies (3-5) are a work in progress. Everyone in the Western Hemisphere has heard his mantra: “Follow the process.”
There’s an urgent patience about Gould’s style, if that makes sense.
But fans? Fans want everything done now.
So, as antsy as Aggie Nation must have been after their guys’ 0-4 start, UCD’s recent resurgence has taken some of the pressure off of Gould and Company. Or has it?
Internally, the staff and administration are pleased with recent happenings — like Saturday’s 34-18 early blowout at Northern Colorado — but nobody within the program is near satisfied. Patient? Kind of. Satisfied? No way.
“I’d say we’re improving,” Athletic Director Terry Tumey told The Enterprise. “Even when we have setbacks … you see the potential of what can be. But we’ve got a long way to go.”
On Saturday, it’s 960 miles to be exact.
At the end of that trek awaits No. 5 Montana State (5-2, 3-0).
“I think we have the right pieces in place to get where we want to go,” continued Tumey, a former standout lineman at UCLA. “From a human-resources standpoint, I feel very good about our coach and the players and the feeling around the team — very good about that.
“But it’s obvious we have some work to get done.”
Two of UCD’s three conference wins (Idaho State and UNC) were expected. A road win against Southern Utah (5-2, 2-2) validated what Tumey says about “improving.” The 42-7 home loss two weeks ago to ranked Montana (6-1, 3-1) pointed to the “work to get done.”
Among those chores is figuring out how to win fourth periods, where the Aggies been outscored 72-24 this season.
Even in wins over the Bengals and Thunderbirds, UCD has just a one-point edge (14-13). And, after throttling Northern Colorado 31-0 through the first 34 minutes, the Aggies were outscored 18-3 down the stretch.
“One of the things we’re teaching the young men, as we build this program, is about playing all four quarters,” Gould explained. “You have to be able to exhaust yourself in all four quarters. You have to have the same focus, the same mentality (at the end) as you do at the start of the game.”
Nonetheless, UCD is on a roll — and while the matchup at Montana State looks perilous, last year’s game between these two teams hints to Aggie fans that caging the Bobcats isn’t scaling Mount Everest.
In October 2012, UCD led Montana State, 38-31, late in the game. Apparently that fourth-quarter thing isn’t unique to Gould’s Aggies …
The locals then coughed up 17 points near the end and lost 48-41 to MSU, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time.
QB Randy Wright, coming off a four-touchdown, 310-yard performance at Northern Colorado on Saturday, was at the helm for last year’s near-upset. Wright’s numbers in that one were decent (232 yards, two TDs passing, one rushing), but a late interception sent the ’Cats on their way to the winning score.
That was then. This is now.
At 3-1 in the Big Sky, there’s some talk in town that these Aggies have become conference contenders.
“We like to think we are,” Wright said. “(Montana) was a little humbling, but we’re not worried about that stuff.
“We’re here. We are going to battle every team. We’re not an easy out. We’re looking forward to playing Montana State.”
Tumey was asked what he thinks when somebody mentions that his Aggies are contenders.
First, he laughs, ready to caution that talking about 3-1 isn’t fashionable. Remember, “There’s work to be done.”
But he goes on:
“Just like any coach, I think about the things that should have happened to make us have a better overall record (think Northern Arizona and South Dakota). But I’m very proud of the efforts of the coaches and the players. It’s good to be 3-1. I don’t think many people in our league would have expected us to be 3-1 (UCD was a preseason media pick to finish 11th).
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, but just like our head coach, not satisfied with where we are. We need to continue to get better.”
Notes: The Ags got a little love from the conference. In this week’s Big Sky notes, league media maven Jon Kasper said this about Saturday’s game: “No. 5 Montana State returns home to face a dangerous UC Davis squad in another battle of top league teams.” Note the adjective “dangerous.” … Northern Arizona’s Zach Bauman earned Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 266 yards and three TDs in the Lumberjacks’ 39-30 win over Idaho State. Montana linebacker Brock Coyle was the top defensive player. … UCD running back Gabe Manzanares rushed for 105 yards against UNC and now has 711 yards (fourth best in Big Sky). Jonathan Perkins’ 20.1 kickoff return average has him at fifth in league.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.