UC Davis braces for Sun Devils

GROUND SUPPORT: Junior running back Cameron Marshall breaks free from the NAU defense for a touchdown in last year’s Sept. 11 victory over the Lumberjacks. Marshall will start for a powerful offense that is expected to run over UC Davis on Thursday. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

The 2010 UC Davis football team was full of youth, but the 2011 Aggies are a group of veterans ready to take on the heavily-favored Sun Devils.

“What I’m noticing is that we’re a smarter football team and more assignment sound as well as a bit more athletic than we have been and that lends itself to being more competitive,” said UC Davis coach Bob Biggs.

The Aggies are certainly the underdogs when facing any football bowl subdivision team, and their focus is not on the Sun Devils, but rather on playing solid fundamental football.

“Obviously we are going to game plan to play ASU, but our mindset is not we have to do this and that to beat ASU,” Biggs said. “We want to be solid and competitive and if we get a break or two and you get in the second half, anything can happen.  We just say, ‘Hey this is who we are. We are going to compete to the best of our ability and see what happens.’”

UC Davis is coming off back to back winning seasons and enters the 2011 season on a three-game winning streak, but the Aggies have not had much success against Pac-12 teams since they defeated Stanford in 2005.

While they have not forgotten the 52-3 loss at Cal a year ago, the Aggies do not think their recent struggles against Pac-12 schools are foreshadowing the upcoming contest.

“I think its apples and oranges,” Biggs said. “We just had too much immaturity and inexperience during the Cal game. Our kids are smart. They understand that we are a much better football team than last year when we played Cal, but they also know they are playing a quality Pac-12 school that has a lot of great athletes. They know it is going to be a challenge.”

Some of Biggs’ confidence in his team stems from the fact that All-Great West Conference honorable mention quarterback Randy Wright is returning for his second season as a starter.

“He was kind of thrust into our starting position (last year) when our starting quarterback decided to go into the ministry,” Biggs said. “This year, going in as the starter, he has a much better understanding of what we are trying to do offensively. His decision making is a lot better.”

Despite being “thrust” into the starting position, Wright had a very productive year in 2010.

The sophomore and first year starter completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,432 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was also named conference player of the week twice.

Defensively, the Aggies return eight starters. However, they did lose their top two tacklers in Dozie Amajoyi and Danny Hart.

UC Davis will need players to step up on defense to replace Amajoyi and Hart, but Biggs believes his team will be able to fill the void.

“Our defense can’t wait to have a chance to hit a quarterback,” Biggs said.

The Aggies have not played meaningful football in months and Biggs believes some of that built up frustration and intensity will propel his defense.

 

Reach the reporter at william.boor@asu.edu