#6 UC Davis FCS Football 2019 Preview

UC Davis Aggies
Overall Rank: #6
#3 Big Sky
 UC Davis Logo
Year two of the Coach Dan Hawkins era went very well for UC Davis. The Aggies were 5-6 in 2017 and then went 10-3 last year. That included a share of the Big Sky title and a nice playoff run. UC Davis slipped past a tough Northern Iowa team in the second round and then met up with conference foe Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals. The Aggies took a lead with just over one minute remaining, but could not hold on. That was a tough way to end the season, but UC Davis will get another shot at it in 2019.
2018 Record: 10-3, 7-1
2018 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Dan Hawkins (15-9 at UC Davis, 133-71-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Plough
Defensive Coordinator: Robert Tucker
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ulonzo Gilliam, RB, 976 yards
Passing: Jake Maier, QB, 3,931 yards
Receiving: Jared Harrell, WR, 896 yards
Tackles: Montell Bland, LB, 78
Sacks: Connor Airey, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Devon King, DB, 2; Jordan Perryman, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Tehran Thomas, TE Wes Preece, DB Erron Duncan
Key Losses: WR Keelan Doss, LB Mason Moe, LB Anthony Baumgart, S Isaiah Olave, DB Vincent White
The Aggies boasted the third most potent passing game in the FCS last season. Quarterback Jake Maier completed over 65 percent of his passes and netted 3,931 yards and 34 touchdowns. The potential concern is the loss of receiver Keelan Doss. He caught 118 passes for 1,334 yards and nine touchdowns. The good news is that there is a wealth of experience back and everybody who caught over four passes last season is returning and ready to pick up the slack. Jared Harrell figures to emerge as the top threat out wide, while Wes Preece is a proven option at tight end. Ulonzo Gilliam had an amazing freshman campaign, rushing for 976 yards and 13 touchdowns. UC Davis is going to do most of their damage through the air, but Gilliam will certainly take advantage of the opposition leaning towards the pass. And Gilliam is involved in the passing game too, catching 57 passes for 385 yards in 2018.
The defense has some important holes to fill after ranking 11th in the Big Sky in pass defense and seventh in total defense. The Aggies were solid against the run, but that could prove to be an issue this season with a defensive line that needs to be retooled around senior Jordan Franklin. The linebackers are in much better shape. Montell Bland is the team’s top returning tackler with 78 and Connor Airey tallied a team high 4.0 sacks. Erron Duncan and Devon King are solid players to build around in the secondary, but the unit needs to improve if the Aggies expect to make a deeper playoff run.
The Bottom Line:
UC Davis plays a fun and interesting non-conference slate. It starts with a tough trip to California and continues with another road affair at Pioneer League favorite San Diego. After that the Aggies host Lehigh before heading to North Dakota State. Big Sky play begins with Montana, but the conference schedule could have been much worse. The Aggies do not play Eastern Washington or playoff hopefuls Northern Arizona and Idaho State.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 166.1 (57th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 322.8 (3, 1)
Total Offense: 488.9 (7, 3)
Scoring Offense: 39.7 (8, 2)
Rushing Defense: 185.4 (74, 4)
Pass Defense: 246.5 (100, 11)
Total Defense: 431.8 (90, 7)
Scoring Defense: 27.4 (55, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (27, 4)
Sacks: 2.85 (21, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.23 (22, 3)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#124 Blake Thorpe
#158 Duncan Smith
#223 Sequoia Magdalena
#256 Casey Granfors