• UC Davis embarks on its ninth season at Aggie Stadium, trying to win its home opener for the fourth time in the past five years.
• Since home/road designations started appearing in the Aggie recordbook in 1947, the program is 42-24-2 (.632) at home, including a 4-4 record at Aggie Stadium.
• South Dakota visits UC Davis for the first time since 2010 (W,17-13) when it was a member with the Aggies in the former Great West Conference... The Coyotes are now in the powerful Missouri Valley Football Conference... The teams also met in Davis during the 1986 NCAA Div. II Playoffs (USD, 26-23) when current Washington head coach and former Aggie CHRIS PETERSEN was UC Davis’ quarterback.
• The last MVFC opponent for the Aggies besides USD was South Dakota State in 2012 (SDSU, 12-8).
• QB Ben Scott set career-highs with 32 completions and 47 attempts at Nevada last week... It was the first time an Aggie QB had at least 30 completions since Greg Denham had 43 against Montana in 2009... Scott’s 238 yards
• The Aggies’ 22 first downs against the Wolf Pack marked the third straight game going back to last year with at least that many while the 22 allowed were the fewest since giving up just 20 at Northern Arizona in Week 9.
• The Aggies are trying to end four-game losing streak at home... Their last win came 52-17 against Fort Lewis (Colo.) in the 2014 home opener.
• K Brady Stuart hit his fourth straight field goal going back to last season when he was good from 26 yards at Nevada... It also gave him 38 for his career and pushed him within six of tying Sean Kelley (44; 2008-11) for No. 2 on the Aggies’ all-time list.
• UC Davis went 77 yards in 15 plays, chewing 8:45 off the second-half clock before Scott found WR Ramon Vargas for a five-yard TD pass in the third quarter at Nevada... It was the longest scoring drive t (by time) for the Aggies since they went 79 yards in 17 plays over 9:30 while picking up a 19-yard FG by Stuart at Northern Colorado (W, 34-18) in 2013... The span covered 17 games.
• Five true freshmen saw action in their first collegiate games: RB Joshua Kelley (6 carries, 43 yds), WR Brandyn Lee (1 rec., 12 yds), WR Gabe Martinez, FB Ethan Hicks and S Ryan Parenteau (solo tackle).
• Saturday is the season’s only night game at home in 2015.
• South Dakota held off a late UC Davis rally at the DakotaDome, recording a 10-7 win to spoil head coach RON GOULD’s debut with the Aggies.
• Trailing 10-0 in the fourth quarter, UC Davis got to within three points after RB Gabe Manzanares plunged in from a yard out with 3:50 remaining... The Coyotes picked up three first downs the rest of the way to run out the clock.
• It was the first Aggie game for Manzanares and a preview of his tremendous career that ended with 2,116 career rushing yards in two seasons and a pair of All-Big Sky honors.
• Statistically, the game was almost event (286-267 total yds for USD)... The Coyotes led 7-0 at halftime and held that lead until getting a 39 FG from Miles Bergner midway through the fourth.
KELLEY IMPRESSES IN DEBUT
• Freshman RB Joshua Kelley gained 43 yards on six carries (7.2 avg.) during his first Aggie game last week at Nevada.
• He carried for eight yards on his first carry during the game’s opening drive and then added a 15-yarder on the next play... Kelley added a 16-yard rush on his third carry of the game, later in the first quarter.
• His debut was reminiscent of RB Manusamoa Luuga who ran for 46 yards on his first career carry as a freshman in 2013 – also against Nevada.
• It’s always nice to not commit a turnover but it’s especially satisfying when it’s in the season opener like UC Davis (and Nevada, for that matter), did last week.
• It was the Aggies’ fifth game without a turnover since the start of 2014 and the first game with no turnovers by either team since Colorado State last season.
NOTES FROM NEVADA
• The Aggies matched the Wolf Pack with 22 first downs with 14 of them coming via passing.
• UC Davis ran a dozen more plays (74-62), threw 24 more passes (47-23) and held a 34:07-25:53 lead in possession time.
• Neither team missed a chance in the red-zone... The Aggies were 3 for 3 while Nevada was good on all five of its tries.
• UC Davis went 9 for 18 on third down and converted one of its two fourth-down tries.
• RB Manusamoa Luuga had a game-high eight receptions, surpassing his previous best of three at Northern Arizona last year... Eight different Aggies caught passes at Nevada.
• P Colby Wadman had a 57-yard punt and averaged 41.4 yards on five kicks.
• DT KYLE DeVAUGHN’s 12-yard sack gave him 8.5 for his career and pushed his yardage total to 60... LB TRAVON BROOKS, who posted the other sack last week, got his first solo sack as an Aggie.
• LB Brady Stibi led UC Davis with six tackles, just two off his career-high of eight against Eastern Washington last season.
• OL Parker Smith and SS Keleen Culberson will serve as team captains during the 2015 season... It is each of their first years serving in the leadership role.
• The Aggies will have two other captains each game... Those will be selected on a game-by-game basis.
ARP CONTINUES GAME STREAK
• Fred Arp coached the defensive line at UC Davis from 1967-2007, becoming not only one of the most beloved Aggie coaches in school history, but turned out some of the best players the program has ever seen.
• The purveyor of “Club Fred” – as his players called their position group – only missed one game as a coach and that was for the birth of his son, Ben.
• Otherwise, Arp was perfect on the sidelines and that streak continues to this day... Saturday marks his 423rd consecutive Aggie game that he’s attended... He’ll say aloha to 424 next week at Hawai’i.
• Arp was also a winner of the AFCA Div. II Assistant Coach of the Year Award.
VARGAS MAKES RUN
• WR Ramon Vargas strung together three straight 100-yard receiving games (141 vs. MSU, 129 vs. Montana, 122 vs. UNC) last season, coming within one of tying the school record held by Sean Creadick (2010), TONY KAYS (2005) and Michael Oliva (2001)... He missed it by just eight yards after gaining 92 at Northern Arizona in Week 9.
GREAT SCOTT! WHAT A START
• QB Ben Scott had one game and five career passes prior to starting his first game when the Aggies hosted Montana State last season.
• All he did was go 27 of 46 for 379 yds and 4 TDs... They were the most yards by a UC Davis QB in their debut start and tied for 23rd most in a game... Scott also had a 31-yard run, the longest by an Aggie since J.T. O’Sullivan in 2001.
• Scott’s passing yardage tied him with former Aggie QB and current offensive coordinator Kevin Daft (vs. Sac State in 1997).
SMITH GETS 0-LINE CYCLE
• OL Parker Smith played both right and left guard earlier during his Aggie career before starting last season at right tackle for injured teammate Christian Schneider.
• Another injury to former OL Jay Luchetti moved him over to center for the balance of 2014 where he earned All-Big Sky honorable mention.
• Smith completes the cycle in 2015 by taking his talents to left tackle where he’ll face the opponent’s top rusher while protecting QB BEN SCOTT’s blindside... Smith, called the Aggies’ best lineman by head coach Ron Gould, replaces Ian Joseph who started all 45 games of his UC Davis career prior to graduating.
CULBERSON BREAKS OUT
• S Keleen Culberson flew under the radar with a redshirt year in 2012 and a injury depleted campaign in 2013... But, 2014 proved to be his coming-out party after the junior posted a team-high 73 tackles... He also led the team in solo stops (47) and assisted tackles (26).
• His 13 tackles (10 solo) helped key a 48-35 win at Cal Poly in the “Battle for the Golden Horseshoe” and were second-most on the team last year... Culberson averaged 9.5 tackles during a four-game stretch late in the year.
CANNON GETS 6TH YEAR
• WR ALEX CANNON may be the fastest player on the Aggies and he’ll get a chance to prove it one more year after receiving a clock extension from the NCAA for a sixth year.
• Cannon received medical hardship waivers after suffering season-ending injuries for the 2011 and 2013 seasons, leading to the successful petition for another season of eligibility.
• He enters the 2015 campaign with 28 catches for 484 yards and a touchdown in his career.
WADMAN A TOP PUNTER
• P Colby Wadman has followed a tough act with a tough one of his own... He replaced All-Big Sky punter Colton Schmidt (now starting for the Buffalo Bills) and has averaged 40.0 yds through 125 punts over two seasons.
• His 42.3 average (rounded from 42.26) last year is fourth-best for a season, barely trailing BILL INGRAM (42.28)... Schmidt (44.5, 42.3) is 1-2 on the single-season list.
• Wadman is on pace to become just the third Aggie to average 40.0 yds for a career... He ranked fifth in the Big Sky, which is loaded with good punters, and 14th in FCS.
• Wadman put a third of his 54 punts inside the 20 in 2014, had 13 fair-caught and posted a long of 65 yards... He earned Big Sky honorable mention for the second straight year.
WRIGHT GOES LONG
• KR Shamawn Wright ranked 24th in FCS last year with a 24.0-yd kick return average... He had an 89-yard TD against Ft. Lewis, the Aggies’ first since 2012... Wright ranked 27th nationally for average while his score tied him for fourth.
STAFF GETS NEW SMILES
• Head coach Ron Gould welcomed three new faces to the coaching staff photo and five new smiles overall with the addition of WES NURSE (cornerbacks), JIM CHAPIN (running backs) and David Braun (def. line) during the winter.
• Nurse was on the Aggie staff in 2011 before leaving and returning, Chapin was most recently at Indiana Univ. (Pennsylvania), and Braun spent the last four years at his alma mater of Winona State (Minn.).
• Also joining the Aggies are Matt Ulrich (def. quality control) and Darren Ervin (spec. teams quality control; dir. of player personnel).
‘14 POSTSEASON HONORS
• UC Davis had 10 Aggies recognized by the Big Sky on its postseason honor roll... OL Ian Joseph (1st team) and RB Gabe Manzanares (2nd team) are both graduated... FS CHARLES BOYETT, TE Mark Martindale, LB Steven Pitts and FB Dalton Turay are departed seniors who were each honorable mention.
• OL Parker Smith, QB Ben Scott, WR Ramon Vargas and P Colby Wadman are returners that picked up honorable mention accolades.
• UC Davis was voted selected 12th by the head coaches and 11th by the media in the Big Sky’s preseason polls.
• Montana State edged defending champion Eastern Washington for the No. 1 spot from the coaches while the order was reversed in a close media vote.
• No Aggies were selected to the 30-play Preseason All-Big Sky team.
INSTANT REPLAY IS HERE
• The Big Sky has joined a growing number of FCS conferences by adding instant replay to its league games.
• Notable items: All plays will be reviewed by a replay official in the booth but play will not be stopped unless necessary... The game will not be stopped by the replay official if it does not effect the “competitive balance” of the game (although coaches may still challenge the call).
• The presumption is the on-field call is correct and only indisputable video evidence can overturn it.
• Head coaches receive one challenge per game but will get a second one if he is successful on the first... If they lose a challenge, the team will be charged a timeout.
• The Aggies posted an NCAA Academic Progress Rate of 974 to lead the Big Sky Conference for the third consecutive year... The distinction earned them an APR Award from the FCS Athletics Directors Assocition for the third straight year as well.
• UC Davis has increased its APR each year during the impressive run and owns the second-longest active streak of APR Awards. (Bryant University has won four straight).
• The APR measures student-athlete retention and eligibility and helps provide a real-time mark of classroom performance.
NEW STADIUM TURF
• Aggie Stadium opened for business in 2007 and has new artificial turf for the first time since... Shaw Sports Turf was installed over the summer, providing a marked difference to the FieldTurf that preceded it.
• Most notably, the new turf is 3/4-inch shorter (2” vs. 2.75”) while the turf inlay is equal parts sand and rubber, compared to the all-rubber inlay previously.
• Visually, the turf alternates shades of green every five yards, except for a 10-yard stretch of dark green at midfield that serves as the background for the traditional Mustang C logo.
• The endzones are blue with “Vegas gold” lettering... The campus’ official UC Davis wordmark is in the south endzone while “Aggies” is in the north.
• The 105,000-square foot playing surface, which is also home to the Aggies’ women’s lacrosse team and features its playing lines, was installed by ProSpectra Contract Flooring and was funded through the Facilities And Campus Enhancement Initiative (F.A.C.E.) passed by undergraduates in 1999.
GOULD PRODUCES RBs
• Head coach Ron Gould turned out a bevy of outstanding running backs during his 16-year career as an assistant/associate head coach at Cal prior to joining UC Davis in 2012.
• Currently, his former players form a ‘who’s who’ of NFL standouts: Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Shane Vereen (New York Giants), Justin Forsett (Baltimore) and C.J. Anderson (Denver)... FB Will Ta’ufo’ou was most recently with Jacksonville... Retired RB Jahvid Best (Detroit) was another outstanding Cal player.
• Gould brought his expertise to UC Davis where he’s already turned out one of the Aggies’ all-time best with former RB Gabe Manzanares who gained 2,116 career yards, was named the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year in 2014 and twice earned all-conference recognition in 2013-14.
LOOKING TO KICK BACK
• Senior K Brady Stuart needs six field goals to tie Sean Kelley (44, 2008-11) for No. 2 on the Aggies’ career list and is nine away from leader EDDIE LORETTO (47, 1985-88).
• Stuart was well on his way to both after making a school-record 17 in 2013 and earning All-Big Sky third-team honors... He was just 5 of 11 last year while also moving up on career attempts (3rd, 57), PATs (7th, 92) and PAT attempts (7th, 96).
• The end of the 2014 season provided renewed optimism with Stuart making his final three attempts (28, 24 vs. CP; 32 vs. Sac St.).
ROOT FOR THE AGGIES
• UC Davis will be featured on ROOT SPORTS for the fourth consecutive year as part of the DirecTV regional network’s partnership with the Big Sky... In all, 10 league games will be showcased throughout the 2015 season.
• The Aggies will host Montana on Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. as part of the package... UC Davis also hosted ROOT SPORTS games against Montana (2013) and Montana State (2012, 2014) and were shown last season at Portland State as well... UC Davis is 0-5 in ROOT SPORTS games.
• JIM SOCHOR, the winningest coach (156 wins) in school history, helped spawn the careers of several notable current head coaches including CHRIS PETERSEN (Washington) and GARY PATTERSON (TCU) who were both on staff... Additionally, Petersen was a QB for UC Davis in the mid-1980s... Former coaches to move through the Aggies as players and/or coaches include MIKE BELLOTTI (Oregon), NICK ALIOTTI (Oregon def. coord.) and PAUL HACKETT (NFL, college).
• Hackett’s son, Nathaniel, played for UC Davis from 1999-2002 before moving on to a successful coaching career as the offensive coordinator at Syracuse and the Buffalo Bills... He’s currently the QB coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
• The Aggies request media properly refer to the school’s name when referencing the university... The correct name is “UC Davis”... Please note the refreshing lack of hyphens and periods... “California-Davis”, “Cal-Davis”, “U.C. Davis”, “UC-Davis” and similar combinations of letters and punctuation are also incorrect.
• Did we say ‘thank you’? Consider it said.
• UC Davis returns to the road to face its second Mountain West opponent of the year when it travels to face Hawai’i on Sept. 19... It’s the second all-time meeting between the program following the Rainbow Warriors’ 56-14 home win in 2011.