#29 UC Davis 2018 FCS Football Preview

UC Davis Aggies
Overall Rank: #29
#6 Big Sky
 UC Davis Logo
UC Davis made a bit of splash when they hired former Boise State and Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins. Coach Hawkins had a decent debut season with the Aggies, posting a 5-6 record. The team failed to grab a big win, but they did not lose any games they should have won either. The result was an average season, but a season that showed some consistency under a new coaching staff. Year two under Coach Hawkins should begin to yield more positive results.
2017 Record: 5-6, 3-5
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Dan Hawkins (5-6 at UC Davis, 117-67-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Plough
Defensive Coordinator: Robert Tucker
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Namane Modise, RB, 329 yards
Passing: Jake Maier, QB, 3,669 yards
Receiving: Keelan Doss, WR, 1,499 yards
Tackles: Nas Anesi, LB, 65
Sacks: Terrell Cloud, DL, 5.0
Interceptions: Vincent White, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Tehran Thomas, TE Wesley Preece, DB Isiah Olave, LB Brandon Jamison
Key Losses: RB Justin Williams, WR Aaron Moore, OL Kyle Sulka, LB Ryan Bau, DE Brandon Weaver, DB Keleen Culberson
The Aggies ranked third in the FCS in passing offense and the two key pieces for that success are back. Junior quarterback Jake Maier threw for 3,669 yards and 26 touchdowns, while completing 68.6 percent of his passes and being intercepted ten times. Keelan Doss caught a huge chunk of Maier’s passes, tallying 115 receptions for 1,499 yards and seven touchdowns. It is easy to focus just on Doss, as the opposing defense often does, but tight end Wesley Preece is a good pass catcher and Logan Montgomery had a very promising freshman campaign at wide receiver. Doss is going to get his catches, and a lot of them, and Preece and Montgomery can take advantage of the defense shifting over in Doss’ direction. Namane Modise should be a fine replacement for departed running back Justin Williams. Like Williams, Modise can catch passes out of the backfield. Modise is not a bruising back though and UC Davis will likely need Tehran Thomas to take over in short yardage situations.
If the Aggies are going to make a push for the playoffs, their run defense must improve; and the rest of the defense too for that matter. There is more depth across the board this year, but the Aggies did lose leading tackler Ryan Bua, top pass rusher Brandon Weaver and the Keleen Culberson, the most productive member of the secondary. Terrell Cloud is a decent pass rusher and Nas Anesi and Brandon Jamison are a solid duo to build around at linebacker. In the secondary, Vincent White will be the new leader after tallying 49 tackles and a dozen pass breakups in 2017.
The Bottom Line:
This should be an improve UC Davis squad, but it remains to be seen if they have the talent to compete with the best that the Big Sky has to offer. The schedule starts off tough with trips to San Jose State and Stanford with a home date against San Diego sandwiched in the middle. After that the Aggies have four straight winnable Big Sky games against Idaho, Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Cal Poly. The Idaho contest on September 22nd will tell us a lot about both teams. Then they play what should be three of the best teams in the Big Sky in Montana, Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington before finishing the season against fellow playoff hopeful Sacramento State. If UC Davis is going to make the playoffs, they have to pull off at least one big upset somewhere along the way. And that is assuming they can get the job done against other quality teams like Idaho and Sacramento State.
Projected Postseason: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 136.5 (76th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 348.3 (3, 1)
Total Offense: 484.7 (3, 1)
Scoring Offense: 33.6 (19, 5)
Rushing Defense: 209.8 (109, 11)
Pass Defense: 249.5 (100, 6)
Total Defense: 459.4 (113, 9)
Scoring Defense: 32.2 (103, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.18 (79, 8)
Sacks: 2.18 (53, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.64 (40, 5)
HERO Sports 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#20 Jake Parks
#88 Lance Babb
#218 Nico Sarale
#241 Cade Peacock