After their worst offensive performance of the season, the Aggies now find themselves in an unfamiliar position.
Saturday’s 34-3 loss at Southern Utah drops UC Davis to 2-6 on the season and 0-2 in the Great West Conference. The team has not started a season 2-6 since the switch to Division I in 2007, and is now assured of its first losing season since 2008.
“This is uncharted territory for us,” Head Coach Bob Biggs said. “It’s time to really test ourselves and challenge ourselves.”
UC Davis could not get anything going offensively against the Thunderbirds, and for the second week in a row turnovers are the story.
The Aggies fumbled three times in the game, and Southern Utah made them pay for their mistakes. Fumbles in the third and fourth quarter both led directly to Southern Utah touchdowns, putting the game out of reach for a UC Davis team that did not score until midway through the fourth quarter.
“We just couldn’t get any momentum going,” Biggs explained. “They were running a coverage to take away the pass, so we knew we had to run the football and we just weren’t able to do that constantly.”
UC Davis rushed for a season low 43 yards in the game and managed only nine first downs throughout the contest.
With the offense struggling to move the ball downfield, it was the Aggie defense was on the field for most of the game.
After giving up two long touchdown drives on the first two Thunderbird possessions, the defensive unit settled down and kept their team in the game.
A 10 yard sack by redshirt freshman Steven Pitts late in the first quarter forced a 51-yard field goal attempt by Southern Utah that they were unable to convert.
In the second quarter, senior Jacob Maxson blocked another Southern Utah field goal attempt.
“I thought we got back on our heels a little bit the first two drives, [but] we settled in with what we were trying to do,” Biggs said. “We bent but we didn’t break. The defense played their hearts out in my opinion.”
More often than not, however, after getting a stop, the defense would up right back on the field following quick UC Davis offensive possessions.
The Aggies had 12 offensive possessions in the game, with only three of them lasting more than four plays. Only one of the drives lasted more than three minutes and 30 seconds.
UC Davis ran 45 offensive plays, compared to the 75 of Southern Utah. The Aggies were 3 for 10 on third down conversions.
The lone bright spot for the UC Davis offense was the career-high 54 yard field goal hit by senior kicker Sean Kelley.
Kelley is now 5-9 on field goals this season and remains perfect on PATs — 20 for 20. With three games remaining in his career, Kelley needs eight more field goals to eclipse Eddie Loretto as UC Davis’ all-time leader in field goals made.
As a team, the Aggies must find a way to put Saturday’s disappointing loss behind them, as they face another tough conference opponent in Cal Poly this weekend.
The rivalry game will give the team a chance to rally around each other and put on a strong performance in front of their home crowd.
“They’re a good football team,” Biggs said of the Mustangs. “It’s a great rivalry and it seems to bring out the best in both teams.
“I guarantee we will be ready to play on Saturday.”
You can follow Caelum Shove on twitter @CaAggieFootball or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.