Mu­sic – not re­venge – mo­ti­vates UC Davis for next play­off game

The Modesto Bee - - Sports - BY JOE DAVIDSON jdavid­[email protected]

Hip hop mu­sic blasted out of the speak­ers and re­ver­ber­ated off the Ag­gie Sta­dium seats on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, the sounds as pierc­ing as the win­ter chill.

The tunes were to sim­u­late loud­ness, re­mind­ing UC Davis foot­ball play­ers to make good eye con­tact with each other with good hand sig­nals while com­mu­ni­cat­ing plays. One can only yell so loud over a roar­ing crowd.

The au­dio ses­sion was in prepa­ra­tion for real noise and real cold that awaits the Ag­gies (10-2) on Satur­day in an NCAA FCS quar­ter­fi­nal game at East­ern Wash­ing­ton (10-2) in Cheney, which can be con­fused with Siberia this time of year.

East­ern Wash­ing­ton fans gen­er­ally get whipped into a frenzy root­ing on their foot­ball he­roes who have made play­ing on their red sur­face at Roos Field their own per­sonal thrill show over the years as an FCS powerhouse.

The Ea­gles rolled the Ag­gies 59-20 on Nov. 10 in Cheney when it was cold, windy, snowy and dreary. It will be less windy but plenty frigid in the re­match of Big Sky Con­fer­ence pro­grams who tied We­ber State for the league cham­pi­onship. The fore­cast for kick­off is 29 de­grees.

UCD and spir­ited coach Dan Hawkins ex­pect to skip to their own tune as the Ag­gies con­tinue to nav­i­gate new wa­ters as first-time Divi­sion I play­off par­tic­i­pants.

Hawkins is a man of many in­ter­ests be­yond the nu­ances of block­ing and tack­ling. This in­cludes mu­sic. He rolls with all of it.

“I can lis­ten to any­thing,” Hawkins said with a laugh. “I don’t like a lot of cussing (in songs). I can do hard rock. I can do opera. I can do coun­try. Boy bands, hip hop, Frank Si­na­tra … we might even get some Christ­mas mu­sic go­ing here.”

UCD hummed a bad tune the last time it faced East­ern Wash­ing­ton, an early 10-0 lead quickly dis­solv­ing un­der an avalanche of six turnovers. It was UCD’s poor­est ef­fort of the sea­son and it has been a ral­ly­ing cry this week. But no one is call­ing it a re­venge game.

“If we play the re­venge fac­tor, it’ll get us off our game,” said Ag­gies Al­lAmer­i­can Ag­gies re­ceiver Kee­lan Doss. “We just play.”

Weather may be a fac­tor, but it goes both ways, Hawkins re­minded.

“It won’t be a mas­sive fac­tor like the Green BayDal­las Ice Bowl,” he said.

Be­sides, Hawkins and his play­ers will add: It’s not so cold when you win.

“You don’t even feel it when you’re win­ning,” Doss said.

The task is twofold for the Ag­gies in the re­match. They can­not af­ford to have so many turnovers, nor can they al­low any­where near the 669 yards the Ea­gles piled up if they ex­pect to ex­tend the 100th sea­son of UCD foot­ball.

UCD is com­ing off of a 23-16 win over North­ern Iowa in its play­off opener, its first at the FCS level and 20th over­all in pro­gram his­tory, the pre­vi­ous out­ings com­ing in Divi­sion II.

East­ern Wash­ing­ton is tied for first among FCS pro­grams with six de­fen­sive touch­downs scored and is sec­ond in to­tal of­fense at 543 yards per game. The Ea­gles have com­peted in 27 FCS play­off games in pro­gram his­tory, 19 of them at home, in­clud­ing last week’s 42-14 rout of Ni­cholls State.

East­ern Wash­ing­ton is 7-0 all time against UCD, but that doesn’t con­cern Ag­gies quar­ter­back Jake Maier.

“I re­ally like our chances,” said Maier, who had two in­ter­cep­tions and no touch­down passes in the Nov. 10 game. “We have to play a cleaner game this time. We have a lot of pride here.

“We know our pro­gram has been built on ex­cel­lence and cham­pi­onship foot­ball since the 1960s and ’70s. We have noth­ing to lose.”

Fol­low The Bee’s Joe Davidson: jdavid­[email protected], @SacBee_JoeD

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