When you feel the ground shake on Aug. 5, don’t dive for shelter under a desk. There’s no need to stand in a doorway.
That temblor will come from the UC Davis campus. It’s on that Monday that Aggie football practice begins — and the dawning of the Ron Gould Era could mean an earth-moving ground game.
The regular season opens Aug. 31 at South Dakota, but before then Gould and his staff will be busy helping a new-look football team get its bearings.
Gould spent 16 seasons as the running back/run-game coordinator/associate head coach at Cal. He sent a dozen or so standouts — like Marshawn Lynch, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen — to the NFL.
Nonetheless, the new coach promised UCD fans on the day he took over last December that the Aggies are “going to be balanced … we are going to run (the ball) and we’re going to throw it.”
That’s good news for veteran quarterback Randy Wright — a guy who’s spent a lot of the past three seasons running for his life.
But it’s because a running game is clicking that defenses stop teeing off on a team’s signal-caller.
Looking back at the last 10 years in Aggieville, and comparing those rushing totals to what was going on in Strawberry Canyon 60 miles downstream, tells a promising story; one that could be unveiled just in time to put UCD on the map in its second Big Sky season.
Since 2003, the Aggies have rushed for just short of 12,000 yards. During that same span, the Golden Bears put down 23,264 yards — including 3,081 in 2004 when Cal was king of the running game.
During that eye-popping 10-2 season, the Bears featured J.J. Arrington, Lynch, Justin Forsett and some guy named Aaron Rodgers.
With Gould as his mentor, Arrington — who spent eight seasons in the NFL — would fashion one of the greatest seasons of any college running back, period.
The former Arizona Cardinal gained 2,018 yards, scored 15 touchdowns and averaged almost seven yards per attempt.
Only Marcus Allen of USC had gone over 2,000 in yards in what was then the Pac-10. Arrington’s yardage was the 10th-best total in NCAA history.
When Aggie veteran RBs Colton Silveria and Dalton Turay first read about Gould’s golden touch with running backs, you could almost hear their smiles.
Newcomer Justin Williams (El Camino High, Oceanside) was impressed enough by Gould’s track record (and approach) that he’s bringing his 3,660 prep rushing yards to town next month.
So is Manusamoa Luuga of Long Beach Poly. A three-time All-Moore League selection, Luuga’s junior year featured 115 yards in a 24-23 season-opening win over Grant a couple of years ago.
But having good running backs is not enough. Ask retired Aggie coach Bob Biggs …
He knew you needed those road graders up front.
To that end, Gould and his assistants have brought four promising offensive linemen to the party.
Dakota Dosch (St. Bonaventure, Ventura) is a 300-pounder who cleared a path for his Seraphs to reach the CIF Southern Section Northern division semifinals three consecutive years.
Donnell Tolliver (Vista Murrieta, Murrieta), Kyle Sulka (Notre Dame, Santa Clarita) and Chris Schneider (Glendora) are three other new faces who could help the beleaguered Aggie line of old operate with a new, chain-moving attitude.
If there’s any doubt that Gould is in the right place at the right time for the Division I future of Aggie Nation, I remember the words of UCD Athletic Director Terry Tumey the afternoon that Gould was introduced …
“I think about recruiting since it is such a vital part of the program,” Tumey told those gathered eight months ago. “I have a personal testament about Ron since he beat me in recruiting a couple of times … when I was coaching at UCLA.
“This man can recruit.”
The parts all seem to be there. And we know Gould can lead his new Aggie horses to water. The question is, can he make them drink?
Lynch, Best, Forsett, Arrington, Vereen. The success of players Gould has mentored in the past gives UCD fans great hope that the Aggie Pony Express is about to deliver the mail.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.