[Vandal] Hawkins Knows This Week’s Opponent Very Well

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Fri Oct 1 12:20:59 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoFriday, October 1, 2021
Hawkins Knows This Week’s Opponent Very Well
The last time UC Davis coach Dan Hawkins lost to Idaho’s football team, he was in his first year as an assistant on Dirk Koetter’s staff at Boise State in 1998.
After a Vandal touchdown to tie it in overtime, the Broncos trotted out their special teams unit for what they thought would be an extra-point kick. The Vandals instead brought out their offense and won the game, 36-35, in front of more than 30,000 fans at Bronco Stadium in Boise.
“We sent our field-goal block team out and they ran the offense on and gave it to Joel Thomas, and he walked in and beat us,” Hawkins said, laughing, during an interview this week.“That’s what I remember.”
Since that loss, Hawkins is 9-0 against Idaho, including a 7-0 mark as a head coach at Boise State and UC ­Davis. That game 24 years ago coincidentally also is the last time the Vandals beat the Broncos — a rivalry series that hasn’t been played since 2010.
But with Hawkins taking charge at his alma mater, UC Davis, in 2017 and Idaho rejoining the Big Sky in 2018, coach “Hawk,” now 60 years old, found himself facing the Vandals once again.
He is 2-0 against the Vandals as the Aggies’ boss, including a 27-17 UC Davis win in the spring.
The No. 8 Aggies (4-0, 1-0 Big Sky) and Vandals (1-2) kickoff again at 7 p.m. Saturday (ESPN+) at UC Davis Health Stadium.
Hawkins isn’t about to start taking Idaho lightly in his 10th meeting against the team.
“Idaho’s just as good as anybody else in our league, and shoot, show me a team right now that’s underperforming,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know that there are any. It’s a good league.”
The Aggies were one of three Big Sky teams to upset Football Bowl Subdivision opponents in Week 1 after dropping Tulsa 19-17 on Sept. 2.
“We were not daunted by Tulsa,” said Hawkins, who also had a coaching stint in the Big 12 at Colorado. “One way or another, we’re just trying to go there and be our best. We could’ve been playing a high school team or an NFL team — that’s just kind of how we roll.”
UC Davis was similarly undaunted last weekend against then-No. 14 Weber State in a 17-14 victory. Although the Aggies weren’t exactly jumping for joy after the game.“There’s just a lot of good football teams in this league,” Hawkins said. “I don’t think you can get overjoyed or depressed about anything that happens one weekend ’cause there’s just too many good teams.”
Hawkins and Petrino
Hawkins knows as much as anybody that coaching college football is a dog-eat-dog world, especially in the NCAA’s biggest conferences. Hawkins was fired during his fifth season at Colorado in 2010.
So when Hawkins saw that Idaho coach Paul Petrino was going through some bumps a few years ago, he gave him a call.
“I kinda reached out to Paul a little bit when I was out of it and he was up there and they were struggling ’cause I’ve been in that boat,” Hawkins said. “I know what it’s like. It’s a harsh, cruel existence.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s fair or not. But I tend to reach out to those guys and befriend those guys and offer some words of wisdom and/or comfort because it’s hard.”
Hawkins and Petrino have another similarity in having their sons play for them. Hawkins’ son, Cody — the UC Davis offensive coordinator — played quarterback for his dad at Colorado in 2006-09.
Similarly, Petrino’s son, Mason, was a quarterback at Idaho from 2016-19.
“Obviously, when his boy was playing with him, and I’ve had my boy play for me too, that’s a unique (situation),” Hawkins said. “So a lot of commonalities and a lot of familiar turf and (I) just try to offer whatever advice or encouragement I could to him through those things.”
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