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CGB Pre-Season: UC Davis Roundtable

Well, it's the second most wonderful time of the year!  The Pre-Season!  Let's start taking a look at the *gasp* season with our initial foray into 2010 football:  UC Davis. 

TwistNHook:  Well, football season is approaching and we should start to take a look at the teams we play and team we have.

First up, we have the UC Davis Aggies.  Unlike some of the other C teams that we play, like Portland State, there are many people who have strong relationships to both UC Davis and Cal.  I know several people who have degrees from both and there are many who grow up in the Bay Area as Cal fans who go to UC Davis, which is a great academic institution. 

But now, you gotta choose!  Cal or UCDavis!  You can't root for both, people!  I choose Cal! 

I especially think that Cal will win since UC Davis' QB transferred recently:

DAVIS, Calif. - After extended reflection, UC Davis quarterback Greg Denham has decided to not return for the 2010 season in order to pursue a career in the ministry, it was announced on Thursday by head coach Bob Biggs.

Denham, from nearby Auburn, Calif., would've been a senior during the upcoming campaign after starting each of the last two years. He's thrown for 6,435 yards and 46 touchdowns during his career and has eight 300-yard games including a career-high 434 in the 2008 season finale against the University of San Diego.

So, what do you think about the UC Davis game this year?

Avinash:  I think we should just spend this post coming up with ways UC Davis beats Cal.

1) Kevin Riley is replaced with a giant watermelon at quarterback. Tedford admires his stability for fumbling the ball every snap and keeps him in.

Yellow Fever:  We start playing like Stanfurd 2006.

Ragnarok:  I think this will be an excellent first game to bring my daughter to.  It's basically a guaranteed Cal victory, she'll get to hear Fight For California a lot (for every Cal touchdown), and the game will be basically over by halftime, so when she starts to get fussy and needs a change, we won't miss anything if we have to leave early.

TwistNHook:  What if I get fussy and need a change?

Ragnarok:  Well, it's a good thing you bring so many contingent outfits to every game!

Berkelium97:  How else can we lose?

1) Kevin Riley breaks his leg in the first half (a la Longshore 2005 vs Sac St).  Fans are delighted to see Beau Sweeney showcase his potential.  He throws 6 interceptions. 

2) Pendergast's new defense makes its debut with mixed results.  He's certainly aggressive and shows it by blitzing on every play.  UC Davis shows a 5-receiver set? Time to bring an 8-man blitz.  Wildcat? Blitz.  4th and inches? You'd better believe we're gonna run a dual-cornerback blitz.

3) The team shows up at AT&T park.  By rule they must forfeit the game.

If nothing else, we'll get to see Tavecchio and D'Amato kick off after numerous touchdowns.  This will give us a chance to see if a) they can consistently kick past the 10 and b) the coverage team can actually bring a returner down before he gets to midfield.

Avinash:  Except Cal is losing this game, remember?  

So what you mean to say is Bryan Anger will be showcasing his All-American leg.

Ohio Bear: I know next to nothing about UC Davis' football team, except that their coach is Bob Biggs and they lost their starting quarterback (a 2nd team Great West Conference performer) to the pursuit of the ministry.  Conventional wisdom tells me that Cal should have no trouble with UC Davis, even if UC Davis were not hampered by the loss of the starting quarterback.  But I'm a Cal fan, so no game truly makes me feel comfortable. 



These days, we see more and more FCS teams beating FBS teams.  And five years ago, UC Davis gave us endless satisfaction by defeating Stanfurd 20-17 at Stanfurd Stadium aka Bear Territory.  So we must not count this one in the bank, says my dominant cautious side of my brain.  We must come to play and play reasonably well.  
I don't expect this one to be as easy as Eastern Washington, simply for the fact that it will be the opener (so we might have some kinks to iron out) and the fact that UC Davis will be excited as all get out to play at Memorial Stadium against its UC system overlord.  UC Davis will be sky high for this one and we cannot take that lightly.   
Still, I am confident that we will do that and take care of our business.  And by take care of our business, I am hopeful that we can build a comfortable lead and allow younger,  inexperienced players to get playing time, much like we did last year in our win against FBS opponent Eastern Washington.  With a veteran quarterback, a veteran running back, and an offensive line that should be able to do well against an FCS defensive front, we ought to be able to move the ball with considerable success.  If there's a concern, it's with how Cal's defense will play in its first game under a new defensive coordinator.  If there's still a learning curve, maybe UC Davis takes advantage.  On the other hand, UC Davis will have an inexperienced quarterback, so who knows?  Maybe our defense will have an edge. 
Don't forget the intangible in our favor.  Cal is undefeated (2-0) in the Tedford era against teams named "Aggies."  So mark it down.  Cal will win.    

Correction -- we are 4-0 (!) against teams named Aggies in the Tedford era
2002 beat New Mexico State 34-13
2004 beat New Mexico State 41-14
2005 beat New Mexico State 41-13
2006 beat Texas A&M 45-10

TwistNHook:  Take that, New Mexico State!

Ragnarok:  I suppose it's worth mentioning that UC Davis does have a recent road win over a Pac-10 team, beating Stanfurd 20-17 back in 2005.  How did the Aggies do it?  Well, first off, Farm QB Trent Edwards was hurt early, and the 'Furd didn't manage an offensive TD the whole game (their two TDs were actually both fumble returns).  They racked up just 192 yards, converted only 3 third downs and turned the ball over 4 times.  Oh, and they let Davis pass for more than 250 yards and convert better than half of their third downs.

TwistNHook:  Agreed.  I find all this discussion about how there is obviously no possible way we could lose this game incredibly nerve-wracking.  I wish I was as arrogant as a USC fan sometimes.  Whenever people talk up Cal, it only makes me *more* nervous.  I'm not used to this!

Avinash:  Seriously. I think every roundtable should just talk about how we're going to lose each game. Screw hubris.



First of all, we know nothing about UC Davis. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. They could have a lot of great players that just flew under the radar and have been developing well without worrying about the pressure of playing at a D-1 school. They could have a giant troll they're developing in one of those huge farms to play left guard.

Think about what our players are thinking. A bunch of them are probably already looking ahead to Colorado, no matter how much they talk about every game at a time. For UC Davis, this is their Super Bowl, and a great chance to make the case that they are worthy of the Division 1 status they've recently been seeking.

TwistNHook:  I heard their Strong Safety is an aircraft carrier.  AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER!

Kodiak:  On paper, this game shouldn't even be close.  There's too much of a disparity in size, speed, and athleticism.  Looking at somewhat comparable match-ups, when Davis played at Fresno St last year, it was a 51-0 blowout.  However, it was a more respectable 34-16 loss at Boise State.

I know that they have a long-tenured head coach who is very good at what he does.  He uses a dynamic pro-style offense and has managed to develop a couple of QB's (Daft and O'Sullivan) to the NFL.  They have a solid WR, an all-league performer at TE(uh oh), two stand-outs on the o-line, and two on the d-line.

In theory, we should have a dominant edge in the trenches.  This should let us impose our will with the running game, and shut down their ability to run.  When given sufficient time and an established ground game, Riley tends to look his best.  I doubt that they have anyone who can match up with Jones or Miller. 

Our biggest issue for this game will be their pro-style offense against our unsettled secondary.
I'd be more worried except that their 3-year starting QB suddenly elected to give up football for ministry this past summer.  This means that their new QB is probably an untested sophomore.

Still, is it too Old Bluish of me to have misgivings?  Probably just well-instilled paranoia.  This is a successful program with a winning head coach and they won't just roll over for us.  If we make mistakes and let them think they're in the game, it could be problematic.  I don't see an Appalachian St.-Michigan scenario occurring because I don't think they have enough speed/game-breakers. (their best players are supposedly on the lines, at TE, or at kicker)

What's most likely:

On offense:  We try to establish the run to set up big plays in the passing game.  If they scouted us properly, they'll stack the box, put press coverage on Jones with a safety over the top and dare Riley to beat us with a consistent mid-range passing attack. Or, they'll try to get to Riley early to rattle him, play press coverage, and hope we don't pop enough big plays. (like how OSU plays us)

On defense:  We use different formations to confuse their inexperienced QB and send heat from different places.  We mix up sending that 4th and 5th rusher with dropping 8 to rattle him into turnovers.  Our front 7 should be enough to control their ground game without needing to stack the box.  And, if our offense does their job, they should be one-dimensional and playing catch-up for most of the game.  That should let the defense pin their ears back and get upfield. 



On special teams:  Well, who the heck knows?  I'd love to see improved depth and location on kickoffs, as few punts as possible, and better discipline on the coverage teams.

Overall:  This is a game we should win convincingly.  A close game or a so-so game is as bad as a loss.  I doubt this really tells us about how good we can be.  But, it can sure as heck tell us how bad we are if it doesn't go well. 

What I want to see:
1)  Solid O-line Play - If they can't dominate here, it's going to be a long year.


2)  A poised and consistent Kevin Riley - It won't tell us how he'll handle 'sc and Oregon, but you have to start somewhere.

3)  An invigorated defense - I expect UCD to score on us and for us to look bad at times.  But, I'd like to see some hint of progress that we're going to be different and better this year.  I'd love to see Hagan or one of the young CB's step up as well as someone on the Dline.  This is a game where Jordan should be able to take over.

4)  Competent special teams.  Yeah.  The horse is dead.  Carry on.

5)  Backup players getting meaningful snaps, especially at QB.  Because if Riley goes down, we're sort of screwed.


TwistNHook:  Yes, any time people think that these games will be easy gimmees, I always point to AppState-Michigan. 


Atomsareenough:  Not comparable. Appalachian State were FCS champs the previous year, and would repeat as FCS champs again that year, I believe, while Michigan was incredibly overrated. App. State was a very good team. UC Davis was 6-5 last year and they've now lost their starting quarterback.

Ragnarok: Technically, they are Division I, just I-AA, right?  Their provisional status has passed, and they're full members, eligible for I-AA playoffs.

Given that they recently had to cut sports at Davis, I'm not sure they'll be seeking I-A status anytime soon.


Solarise:  Looking at the two games the Aggies played against FBS opponents last year - 


UC Davis vs #5 Boise State (Oct. 3, 2009 at Boise, Idaho)

FIRST DOWNS................... 13 21
Rushing..................... 1 6

Passing..................... 8 13
Penalty..................... 4 2
NET YARDS RUSHING............. 28 101

Rushing Attempts............ 17 33
Average Per Rush............ 1.6 3.1
Rushing Touchdowns.......... 0 1

Yards Gained Rushing........ 39 113
Yards Lost Rushing.......... 11 12
NET YARDS PASSING............. 206 285

Completions-Attempts-Int.... 24-36-0 22-31-1
Average Per Attempt......... 5.7 9.2
Average Per Completion...... 8.6 13.0

Passing Touchdowns.......... 2 3
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS........... 234 386
Total offense plays......... 53 64

Average Gain Per Play....... 4.4 6.0

Possession Time............... 29:23 30:37
1st Quarter................. 7:39 7:21
2nd Quarter................. 5:11 9:49
3rd Quarter................. 7:18 7:42

4th Quarter................. 9:15 5:45

UC Davis vs Fresno State (Sep 5, 2009 at Fresno, Calif.)
FIRST DOWNS................... 12 21

Rushing..................... 1 13
Passing..................... 9 7
Penalty..................... 2 1

NET YARDS RUSHING............. 43 310
Rushing Attempts............ 20 52
Average Per Rush............ 2.2 6.0

Rushing Touchdowns.......... 0 5
Yards Gained Rushing........ 49 317
Yards Lost Rushing.......... 6 7

NET YARDS PASSING............. 188 201
Completions-Attempts-Int.... 19-42-1 8-13-1
Average Per Attempt......... 4.5 15.5

Average Per Completion...... 9.9 25.1
Passing Touchdowns.......... 0 1
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS........... 231 511

Total offense plays......... 62 65
Average Gain Per Play....... 3.7 7.9
Possession Time............... 26:39 33:21
1st Quarter................. 4:55 10:05
2nd Quarter................. 11:46 3:14

3rd Quarter................. 6:21 8:39
4th Quarter................. 3:37 11:23
The Aggies appears to be a team that generates most of its offense from the air.  Fresno State, led by Ryan Mathews (12th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft to the San Diego Chargers), stampeded the Aggies defense with 310 yards on the ground.  I'd look for Shane Vereen to establish the Bears' running attack early and control the tempo of the game.  Isi Sofele and Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson should get plenty of playing time.

Both of Davis' leading RBs from 2009 return for 2010.
Joe Trombetta 120 394 3.3 15 4
Josh Reese 68 375 5.5 38 2

A trio of Aggies' receivers also return for 2010.
Chris Carter 85 889 10.5 68 4
Bakari Grant 45 584 13.0 49 5
Sean Creadick 40 466 11.7 45 5

Judging by game stats the Aggies doesn't utilize its TE for passing purposes much.  Without Greg Denham though, these wideouts might have a hard time challenging the Bears' inexperienced secondary.  Both Carter (6-1, 195) and Grant (6-4, 195) have the size to match up against Bears' CBs.  I would keep a close eye on how well the Bears CBs (Hagan, Williams, Hill, Nnabuife, Campbell, Conte) perform in addition to the DL pressuring Aggies' new QB - most likely Austin Heyworth who backed up Denham in 2009.



TwistNHook:  Wow, great stuff!

CALumbusBear: UC Davis is a heralded member of the great University of California system.  It has a world-class department of viticulture and enology, and I drink wine in their honor nearly every night.  But on game day I want Cal to crush them with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.  And I think we'll do it.  Because it is effing UC Davis.  Aggies, we love you, but you're gonna get spanked.  I look forward to enjoying some good Napa wine, likely produced by someone with a UC Davis degree, to celebrate our debacling of UCD. 

LeonPowe:  All I know about UC Davis is that I used to pass it a lot when I was driving from Sacramento! to the Bay Area when home for Christmas. And Redrum Burger is supposed to be pretty good.

Berkelium97:  Score predictions?


TwistNHook:  8-7, Cal wins when it blocks a punt out the back of the endzone after a confused Aggie picks up a Cal fumble and runs the wrong way to the UC Davis 1. 

LeonPowe:  I predict 6 pancake blocks by Matt Summers-Gavin and 2 catches by Loggy while he falls down.

Yellow Fever:  54-2.  Riley trips on his shoelaces in the end zone, causing me to lose all belief I had in him.

Ragnarok:  45-10.  Cal's defense gives up a score on Davis' opening drive, then tightens up, picks off three passes and never looks back.

Avinash:  I predict that if Shane Vereen runs for over 200 yards, Cal will have a chance to win the game.

TwistNHook:  That's the Old Blue spirit!

CALumbus Bear:  2-0, Cal pitches a shutout!

Ohio Bear: Cal 38, UC Davis 14

2 sacks in his Cal debut for Chris Martin.

Oh wait...fuck!

Kodiak:  Can I flag you on this email group?

Cal - 42, UC Davis 17.

Our first kickoff goes out of bounds.  They take the first drive right down the field and hang 7 on us.

We respond with a strong drive led by Vereen's running.  A fly sweep with Sofele gets us into the red zone and Riley hits Miller on the play action skinny post for 7.

The defense stiffens up and we spend the next several series with 3 and outs while Jordan, Price, and Cattouse all get sacks.

We score on our next several drives.  Our Oline dominates the trenches.  Riley looks poised, accurate, and sharp. 

Vereen can't be stopped.

In the 2nd half, our attacking defense gives up a long TD to an uncovered TE right down the middle.

Midway through the 3rd, Tedford calls off the dogs and puts in Sweeney...who just hands off to Debo and Yarnway. 

Even so, we tack on another TD.

Our 3rd string D gives up a FG late.  We do the vertical clap thing to salute them.

Vereen carries 12 times for 153 yards, 2 TD's
Riley goes 15-20, 210 yards, 2 TD's

Jordan and Price end with 2 sacks a piece.  Cattouse gets 1 sack and 1 int.

Mohammed has 14 tackles.

Um...This is getting tough.  It's not easy typing while skyping a psychic octopus.