BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
As members of the Oakland Athletics back in the 1980s, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire earned the moniker "Bash Brothers" for their power hitting.
Move over Jose and Mark and make way Dontay Moch and Kevin Basped, Nevada football's version of the Bash Brothers. Their sole goal is to wreak havoc on anything and anybody that gets in their path.
And they do it with speed more than anything else. Watching them rush the passer is like watching a pair of heat-seeking missiles converging on a defenseless target.
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Moch, a sophomore, was a state champion in the 100- and 200-meter dash in Arizona. The lanky 6-foot-6, 250-pound Basped, also a sophomore, is a thoroughbred.
The duo gives Nevada something they haven't had on the outside in several years " speed. The Pack can now attack off the edge without having to constantly rely on blitzing linebackers, and that's a direct result of the change in defense under first-year coordinator Nigel Burton, who instituted a 4-3 attacking, vertical style of defense. It certainly has allowed Basped and Moch to showcase their wheels.
The outside speed will put heavy pressure on offensive tackles " forcing offenses to keep more people in for protection " which could open up things for the rest of the Pack defense.
"It fits my style of play," Basped said. "Me and Dontay are speed guys coming off the edge."
"This defense was made for me and Kevin," Moch said, echoing Basped's thoughts. " I'm much more comfortable. I've only played defensive end and running back."
And already there is a competition as to who will get to the quarterback first and who will end up with the most sacks.
"It's a friendly competition," Basped said. "We get off the ball very similar and a lot of times (in practice) we get there at the same time. We'll share some stats I'm sure."
"We're always arguing about who gets there first," Moch added, with a smile on his face. "We're looking to get back there every play."
Moch, especially, has been the defensive star of fall camp, which concluded over the weekend with the Pack's third and final scrimmage. His hooting and hollering after every big play have become commonplace.
"I went into this season trying to make my presence known," Moch said. "I'm having a good camp. I love the 4-3. The only bad thing is that I can't drop back in coverage and get a couple of interceptions."
Basped has played well when he's been healthy. He's coming back from a knee injury and a concussion. He's slowly working his way back into shape, but expects to play in the opener against Grambling State on Saturday night.
Assistant coach Barry Sacks likes what he's seen from both players.
"They definitely have speed," Sacks said. "The key thing is proving to be game-worthy. The real key will be how they pick up the ball and play during the season. Hopefully they can play like they have been in practice and scrimmages.
"They have to do blue-collar work, too. You've got to be able to hem an offense in. If the offense runs the ball well all of the time, you are not hemming them in."
Moch said he's ready and up to the challenge. He's gained 15 pounds since last year and said he's more powerful this year.
"I ate everything in sight and in the refrigerator," Moch said, laughing. "I hate seven or eight small meals a day. I was working out two or three times a day. Plus, I've been able to keep my speed up. I spent a lot of time in the weight room since last season, and it's paid off."
Jim House, Nevada's veteran defensive line coach, has definitely noticed a difference in Moch as a player and person.
"Last year he was kind of timid and shied away from contact," House said. "He was a pass-rush specialist and did a nice job. He really gained in the weight room. He's just a different guy. He's a confident guy. When you ask him to shoot between the tackle and guard, he feels really confident."
Basped might be ahead of Moch when it comes to playing the run. He played defensive end in the 3-4 last season and at times had to take on both tight ends and tackles. This year he'll be playing in space and will likely just see tackles ahead of him.
"He (Basped) actually played better under a tight end than he did in space last year," House said. "(Nick) Fuhr was our rush end."
"I can create a play (more often) now being outside," Basped said. "I don't have to sit back and read as much as last year. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I want to be a complete player, not just somebody that comes into the game depending on the situation."
Potential is a word that is freely tossed around when either Basped or Moch's name is mentioned.
House thinks both Moch and Basped have an opportunity to play in the NFL if they take care of business on and off the field.
"He (Basped) is what I like to call a Sunday guy," House said. "He's everything you want in an NFL pass-rusher. I look at Dontay as a special teams guy and a specialist, but he can make it."
- Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 881-1281
NEVADA VS. GRAMBLING STATE
When: Aug. 29, 6:05 p.m.
Where: Mackay Stadium
Tickets: VIP-$50; Reserved-$25; General admission-$18. To order online, visit www.nevadawolfpack.com