UC Davis starts the second half of its season against one of two teams with an undefeated league record
6 p.m. kickoff at Aggie Stadium for the first home game of the Dan Hawkins era
The Dan Hawkins era will open on the road against a Mountain West Conference foe, the fifth time in as many seasons the Aggies faced an opponent from this league
Battle for starting spot helps all three candidates improve their overall game
Former Cal walk-on later coached at his alma mater and Fresno State
Tim Plough, a former UC Davis quarterback and assistant coach, returns to his alma mater to assume the role of offensive coordinator under new head coach Dan Hawkins. The 2008 Aggie graduate most recently completed his fourth season at Northern Arizona, where he mentored the Lumberjack aerial game to the country's No. 1 passing efficiency in 2015.
Plough's homecoming will mark his sixth overall season on the Aggie coaching staff. He served as a student assistant coach in 2008, then became the team's quarterbacks coach the following year. From 2010 through 2012, Plough was elevated to the position of passing game coordinator. During that span, he helped nurture Randy Wright into becoming the first UC Davis freshman to start at quarterback in a full decade.
Combining his redshirt season of 2003, four years as a letterwinner and another five on the staff, Plough spent a full decade as a part of UC Davis football, building relationships and experiences he still treasures. "I'm super-excited to be back," he said. "It's such an important part of my life, and part of my growth as a player and a coach."
"In my first go-round at UC Davis, I was still learning how to be a coach. I was super-fortunate to have guys like Bob Biggs, Mike Moroski and Jim Sochor mentor me for those five years. I used to meet with Coach Sochor weekly, just away from coaching. He helped me grow as a man during my post-college years. They gave me a great platform to do that."
Plough's coaching journey then took him to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he joined the NAU staff as a wide receivers coach in 2013. He held that role for two seasons, guiding four players to All-Big Sky status. Third-team honoree Ify Umodo also went on to sign a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears in 2015.
In his third season, Plough was promoted to offensive coordinator. Both the Lumberjack ground and passing game flourished under his leadership: first-team All-Big Sky pick Casey Jahn because just the 12th player in school history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards, while both quarterback Casey Cookus and receiver Emmanuel Butler garnered All-America accolades. Cookus also garnered FCS Freshman Player of the Year distinction, helping Plough's offense rank No. 1 nationally in passing efficiency (180.18), seventh in scoring offense (39.3 ppg) and eighth in passing offense (303.2 ypg).
"Going to NAU got me away from what I had known," said Plough. "In the last few years, we have stumbled upon an offense that is new and that a lot of people don't run. We've had some success with it. I used a lot of the things I learned at Davis and then grew into my own."
This fall, NAU continued to rate among the country's top FCS offenses under Plough's tutelage, despite an early season injury to Cookus. The Jacks finished among the top 10 nationally in passing offense (318.8 ypg), fewest sacks allowed (0.73) and total offense (475.5). Overall, NAU posted a 28-17 record in Plough's four seasons on staff.
Formerly a football/baseball standout from San Diego, Plough lettered four years at UC Davis and earned the starting role as a senior. His 388 yards at Eastern Washington on September 15, 2007 still ranks 16th in school history and third in the program's Division I era. Plough earned his bachelor's degree in history from UC Davis in 2008, then added a master's in coaching education from Ohio University four years later. His wife Christine, whom he met at UC Davis, have a one-year-old son named Jackson.
Plough's appointment completes the top-level staff under Hawkins, who was announced as the UC Davis head football coach on November 28. Robert Tucker was the first hire, becoming the defensive coordinator; then Mark Speckman was announced as assistant head coach a day later. Isaiah Jackson (inside linebackers) and Jerry Brady (outside linebackers) were subsequently added to the defensive staff.
"Probably one of the more attractive things, other than coming back to my alma mater, is the opportunity to work with Coach Hawk," Plough said. "He has such a great track record and so much success at a high level. For a young coach like me, to be able to learn from him and to watch someone come into a program to really reignite what we've done at UC Davis -- I just feel very fortunate to be part of that."
vs. 22/RV Northern Arizona (4 p.m.)