April 9, 2012
The UC Davis football team gets started with its first week of spring practice, starting Tuesday, Apr. 10 at 3:30 p.m. as the Aggies begin offseason preparations for the upcoming 2012 season. UC Davis practices Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays each week before culminating drills with the annual Spring Game on May 12. More information is available at the 2012 Spring Game event page.
The Aggies will scrimmage on three Saturdays - Apr. 21, 28 and May 5 - from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. All practices will be held at Aggie Stadium. The first practice with full pads in scheduled for Tuesday, Apr. 17. A complete practice schedule is listed below.
Sean Maraz provides a more in-depth preview on the team's approach to spring practices.
By Sean Maraz
Athletics Communications Intern
Winter workouts for the UC Davis football team have finally come to a close. For the players that signifies a few things, including no more early morning workouts, or band box-squats, or the myriad of other extreme exercises. But, most importantly, the end of winter signifies a chance to prove themselves on the practice field during spring football.
Spring football gives all Aggie football players the chance to develop on the field. Whether it is freshmen, who spent the previous season as redshirts and scout team players, being able to finally show their talents within the Aggie offense or defense, or other players who were in backup roles during the previous season now getting the opportunity to improve and earn more prominent roles on the team.
It's also veteran players and starters who use spring ball as a chance to polish their skills and prepare for the upcoming season. Spring ball, simply, is a time for development, refinement and expectation.
The UC Davis football team ended the 2011 season with a 4-7 record but that included wins against rivals Cal Poly and Sacramento State at the end of the season.
“I feel more frustrated than disappointed because I thought we were a better team than four wins,” said head coach Bob Biggs, who enters his 20th and final season this fall. “I think when we look back there were three games that we probably should have won.”
“I was very encouraged by the way we ended the season,” he said. "I think winning three of the four last games, including games against Cal Poly and Sac State - two good football teams that had good wins - identified us as more of the kind of team we were and it showed a lot of the fighting spirit we had.”
Given this late-season success, Biggs, who holds a 140-78-1 overall record as head coach, is looking forward to the future. “I am excited about the 23 returning seniors that we have, most of whom have prominent roles and played a lot of football. So, I am excited about their leadership and motivation. There is a lot to build on there.
With the leadership of the large returning senior class, Biggs is focused on the team improving during spring football.
“A big part of spring isn’t necessarily establishing the starters, but really establishing our depth,” he said. “We have had two really good recruiting classes with a lot of talent and a big part of spring is finding out how much they are going to be able to contribute and where the depth is going to fall.”
Coach Biggs elaborates, “I love spring. I love the format of spring. Spring ball is great for teaching because you get to take your time. In fall, we teach to the experienced players because those are the players who are going to be playing, and the young players don’t get much time. Spring allows us, as coaches, to teach all the players, so everyone, including the young players, has a firm understanding of what we are trying to do.”
From a team perspective spring football is a time for the team’s depth to be established and a time of equal learning for all players. But, the offense and defense have their own independent goals and objectives.
For the Aggies’ offense, spring football is a time to become “explosive.”
“I think we're as close as we've ever been to being an explosive offense,” said Tim Plough, the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “This transition has finally made a full circle.”
Creating an explosive offense stems from the development of a high tempo scheme. According to Plough, “Our tempo will be at an extremely high level this year. I think people will be shocked at how quickly we push the tempo. That has a lot to do with us being in our third full year of our new scheme."
In addition to becoming a more explosive offense with great tempo, Plough feels that ball security needs improvement and that will be a focus.
“We need to protect the ball,” he said. “We had too many fumbles last year. Ball security and valuing every possession will be an emphasis.”
Finally, for the Aggies offense, spring football will be a time for competition for all starting positions.
The offensive players have their own expectations for the upcoming spring. For example, redshirt freshman receiver Corey Galindo (25 catches, 334 yards and two TDs in 2011) said that, “Spring is my opportunity to work even harder on skills that I struggled with during the season and to just expand my knowledge as a receiver to take my game to the next level."
Sophomore quarterback Randy Wright (188 completions, 2250 yards and 14 TDs in 2011) is also looking forward to developing through spring football and has goals for both the offense and for himself.
“I would like the offense to come together and believe in the system as a whole,” he said. “Personally, I want to take on a leadership role - someone the team can believe in when things are not going right, and play more aggressively.”
The Aggies’ defense, internally named the “Blue Force,” looks to continue its intensity and develop as a group this spring.
“Our expectations are always to play the game with a blue-collar, physical approach,” said Mark Johnson, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. “We will run to the football and play the game hard with great intensity and respect for the game. Our goals this spring as a defense is to continue growing as a unit. Our older, more experienced players must continue to grow and master our defensive schemes.”
Johnson added that improved communication on the field will be a goal and that he wants the defensive players to “swarm to the football, create turnovers and create negative yardage plays.” Johnson also explained that he wants to develop his depth chart and “get our young guys a ton of reps and to learn what the guys who redshirted last season can do.”
Like their counterparts, Aggie defensemen have their own, individual goals. Jordan Glass (68 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions in 2011), a senior Aggie linebacker and 2011 co-captain, looks forward to “continuing to unify the defense by being on the same page and working towards the same goals. Personally, I want to better recognize offensive formations and play calling."
Sophomore cornerback Jonathan Perkins (28 tackles, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups in 2011) also looks to improve his game by “taking what I do in my position drills into the scrimmages to make plays.”
Spring football is an opportunity for the UC Davis football team to improve on several levels. As a team on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball and, individually for each player. All of the goals are set. The Aggies will start to meet those goals during their first spring practice on Tuesday. The final test will come during the Spring Game on Saturday, May 12th at Aggie Stadium.
SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE
Tue., Apr. 10 - 3:30-6:15 p.m.
Thu., Apr. 12 - 3:30-6:15 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 14 - 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Tue., Apr. 17 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Thu., Apr. 19 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 21 - 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (scrimmage)
Tue., Apr. 24 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Thu., Apr. 26 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 28 - 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (scrimmage)
Tue., May 1 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Thu., May 3 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Sat., May 5 - 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (scrimmage)
Tue., May 8 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Thu., May 10 - 3:30-5:45 p.m.
Sat., May 12 - 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (Spring Game)