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UCD football coach Ron Gould watches his team work early in summer camp. The second-year mentor has the Aggies going through drills in his trademark up-tempo style. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

Sports

‘We haven’t earned anything yet,’ says Gould in pooh-poohing the polls

By From page B1 | August 06, 2014

As if playing No. 11 Stanford to open 2014 is not enough, now UC Davis finds itself meeting five of the most highly regarded schools in the Football Championship Subdivision, or so says this week’s first FCS Coaches’ Poll.

Defending Big Sky Conference king Eastern Washington is ranked No. 2 behind three-time defending national champ North Dakota. The Eagles open league play at Aggie Stadium on Sept. 27.

“We don’t worry about that stuff. Rankings mean nothing to us now,” says UCD head coach Ron Gould. “The focus is on us. To be as good as we can.”

But knowing the locals’ 11-game schedule includes some of the top FCS and Football Bowl Subdivision opposition in the land, fans should be flocking to Aggie Stadium to see if UCD can continue its improvement into 2014.

Aggie Nation will recall that UCD began Gould’s first season 0-4 before going 5-3 in Big Sky play, good for a fourth-place tie in the 13-team circuit.

Among the other Aggie conference foes ranked are No. 5 Montana, No. 18 Montana State and No. 25 Northern Arizona. Also getting votes was Southern Utah.

In a nonleague contest last season, UCD led NAU late before two interception returns for touchdowns gave the Lumberjacks the win. The Aggies also played the then-ranked Montana schools close and traveled to Southern Utah, dominating the Thunderbirds, 21-3.

Last month, the Big Sky media and coaches’ polls had UCD picked to finish seventh and ninth, respectively.

“I’m not concerned,” Gould said when asked earlier if he thought the Aggies weren’t getting little respect after a 5-7 season that ended with a 34-7 blasting of Sacramento State. “We haven’t earned anything yet.”

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Meanwhile, the Portland State-like weather continued for Tuesday’s second day of camp.

With cloud cover keeping temperatures in the low 70s — while providing periodic raindrops — Gould said he was happy with his charges, but unhappy with Mother Nature.

“Keep it up. Keep the energy going,” Gould told his team after another efficient, two-hour morning session.

On his way back to his office after practice, the former Cal associate head coach was asked about the uncharacteristic climate:

“This is like a country club,” Gould said. “I want it to be 115. We have to make sure we’re in great shape come September.”

Coach probably doesn’t have to worry about that.

Practices are conducted “up-tempo,” a term Gould uses for the style of workout his Aggies endure to get their running in while learning.

A lion’s share of the conditioning comes through rapid-fire drills, crisp scrimmages in which units are quickly run on and off the field — no walking once you are in play.

When a play ends, the defense sprints to where the ball finished (a good way to get in the habit of putting a crowd around the pigskin and getting one’s running in).

“I’m very pleased with the tempo,” Gould explained. “We have a lot of guys flying around out there.”

Like Gilbert, Ariz., freshman Jordan Robinson and Corona sophomore Keleen Culberson …

For the second straight day, both UCD defensive backs had interceptions. In fact, Robinson notched two more picks Tuesday. That’s five thefts in two days. Having lost free safety Aarynn Jones and cornerback Jonathan Perkins to graduation, the early emergence of this duo probably helps corners coach Damaro Wheeler and defensive coordinator Bert Watts sleep better.

Notes: Former Aggie basketballer Clint Bozner had a nice Tuesday outing. The trans-sport senior collected two reboun, er, passes and looked like he was in the right place to help seal off the end on sweeps. Bozner is battling for a tight end spot. “It’s so much different than basketball,” the 6-foot-7 Bozner told The Enterprise. “The cutting. When I go to move I take these wide, explosive steps …” Bozner demonstrated the move he used when boxing out under the basket. He said he had to get used to “short, choppy steps off the line.” Just then, new tight ends coach Paul Creighton walked by. “That coach is going to go gray by the end of season,” Bozner said, pointing at his new mentor. … Shoulder pads will be added to the helmets Wednesday as full contact is just around the corner for this 95-strong Aggie squad. … Friday’s Aggie practice will take place at Toomey Field. Workouts are closed to the public.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.

Bruce Gallaudet

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