Each year, gaps created by graduated seniors must be filled, and questions about the upcoming football season must be answered.
In Saturday’s annual Blue and Gold Scrimmage, which marked the end of spring workouts, some of the Aggies’ uncertainties were dispelled with the play of the defense and special teams.
Head coach Bob Biggs noted a number of positives taken from the Spring Game.
For one thing: Yes, the defense can apply pressure.
“The defense showed things they had shown throughout the spring, and that’s the ability to run to the ball,” Biggs said. “We’re pretty talented in our coverage people with our safeties and corners.
“You could see the pressure is tough. I was particularly pleased with the open field tackling. I thought we tackled well, which to me, means we’re a fundamentally sound defense.”
The Aggie defense wore blue jerseys Saturday, finishing the afternoon ahead of the offense, 59-46. UC Davis Blue came alive for three interceptions and six sacks.
Dominant for the Aggies was sophomore cornerback Jonathan Perkins, who recorded a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“Perkins has had a great spring, and he made a great break on that ball,” Biggs said. “I thought the defense outplayed the offense today.”
Another unit that impressed Biggs was the special teams.
“I was pleased with our field goal unit,” Biggs said. “We executed well today. We made all the extra points and we made the one field goal. We had one good kickoff return and we did some great things this spring as far as the special teams.”
On the offensive side of the ball, sophomore Randy Wright will return as the starting quarterback for the 2011-12 campaign, Biggs said.
Outside of Wright’s position, some things are still uncertain on the offensive side of the ball. According to Biggs, the scrimmage exposed an unseasoned offense in need of some work.
“Offensively, we showed some of our inexperience,” Biggs said. “We had four or five false starts, and we’re not good enough to overcome those kinds of mistakes. We’re not always going to make every catch, and I understand that, but fundamentally we need to be right on course.”
After graduating key seniors like Dean Rogers and Sean Creadick, Biggs sees holes in the receiver positions, as well as a need for improvement in the running game.
As far as a roster of over 100 athletes joining forces, Biggs said the Aggies have achieved quite a bit this spring.
“From a team chemistry standpoint, it was outstanding,” Biggs said. “We learned how to practice and practice fast without hurting each other. We found out about our leadership. What impressed me is that we have many people that have the respect from their teammates, and that says a lot to me. When times get tough and you have injuries and you’re in a tough ball game, you can count on each other.”
Come game time in the fall, the Aggies hope to have fulfilled some concrete goals.
“We need to be fundamentally sound,” Biggs said. “We’re not always going to score lots of points, and we’re not always going to stop everybody. But I really believe if you play solid special teams and you don’t hurt yourself with penalties, you’re going to win more than your fair share of games, and those are the things we need to get better.”
Biggs hopes this will translate into a winning season.
“Ultimately, our goal is to try to win a [Great West] Conference Championship – to win seven games at the [Football Championship Subdivision] level,” Biggs said. “Those are the immediate goals. There’s no sense hiding from them. [A record of] 6-5 in the last couple years hasn’t been good enough to get us where we want to be.”
The Aggies are eager to reconvene in August to prepare for the 2011 season.
“When we come back in the fall, we prepare to win,” Biggs said. “It’s that simple.”
UC Davis’ opens the season at Arizona State on Sept. 1. The Aggies’ home opener is Sept. 17 against University of San Diego.
GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at email@example.com.