Nevada to take on Sacramento State | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada to take on Sacramento State

RENO – University of Nevada football coach Chris Ault has seen the enemy, and its not Sacramento State.

Ault isn’t trying to demean the Hornets, a Division 1-AA school. He simply believes that the Wolf Pack have so many of their own problems to solve they can’t worry about what the opposition is doing.

“It’s about us,” said Ault, whose 0-1 Wolf Pack open their home schedule today at 1:05 p.m. at Mackay Stadium. “It’s about the offensive line coming off the ball; the defense getting after it the way they are supposed to. I’m really worried about this football team.

“This is their (Sac State) game of the year. I told the team that we better have our ankles taped up. I wouldn’t respect us (right now).”

Sac State has to respect everybody right now. The Hornets ended last year with seven straight losses, partially due to some key injuries and partially due to poor play.

Ault was especially displeased with the offensive line, which gave up nine sacks to a team that had only 16 the entire 2003 season.

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As a result, guard Chris Hines and tackle Adam Kiefer are also in danger of losing their jobs. There’s even been talk about playing true freshman Dominic Green at tackle.

“We didn’t execute,” said Chris Klenakis, line coach and offensive coordinator. “We have to focus on getting ourselves better. We’ve had good timing this week. We have to come out with our mind on business.”

Redshirt sophomore Jeff Rowe, who completed 18 of 32 passes for 181 yards and two scores last week, will start at quarterback. Travis Moore, who completed 5 of 6 passes on his only drive of the game last week, will see some action, according to Ault. The coach said it’s possible that Andy Heiser, who has been bothered by a sore arm, could see action.

“I don’t do it that way (pre-determine things),” Ault said. “It will depend on what’s going on.”

Ault has named Chance Kretschmer, who had knee surgery last month, as his starter at running back. However, he expects to use Drew Robinson and B.J. Mitchell, too.

This is the third straight year Sac State has opened against a Division 1 opponent, and that will be helpful, according to head coach Steve Mooshagian, a former Wolf Pack assistant in 1996. He said a large contingent of players were on the roster last year whe Sac State lost to Oregon State 40-7.

“We won’t have big eyes,” Mooshagian said. “We battled with them (Oregon State) pretty strong.

“Nevada has some playmakers (on offense). They’re going to get it done. I hope they take one more week to do it. “

The Hornets have some playmakers of their own in 5-11 190-pound wide receiver Fred Amey, 6-3 210-pound quarterback Ryan Leadingham and 5-8 215-pound tailback Tyronne Gross.

Amey has accounted for nearly 2,000 yards receiving the last two years, and Mooshagian loves him.

“He’s our best football player without a doubt,” Mooshagian said. “He has tremendous work ethic, and he’s a complete receiver. He can catch the ball, run after the catch and can block downfield. I think he has a chance to play at the next level, and a lot of people are looking at him.”

Leadingham’s 2003 season ended after five games. Against arch-rival UC Davis, he suffered three broken bones in his non-throwing hand and a broken bone in his elbow. It took three surgeries to repair the damage. Leadingham, who has thrown for more than 6,000 yards in his career didn’t take many snaps over the summer, and at times questioned whether he would even come back and play.

“He’s an excellent quarterback,” Mooshagian said. “It’ll be interesting to see how things go. He hasn’t had that much live work, and we don’t allow the defense to hit quarterbacks in practice.”

Gross’s 2003 season also was cut short by injury in Week 8 against Eastern Washington. He gained 812 yards, including four 100-yard games. He’s considered one of the best backs in the Big Sky.

The Hornets will operate without center Dustin Nicolodi, who suffered a season-ending injury early in summer camp. He’s been replaced by fifth-year senior Brian Herman and JC transfer Travis Johnson.

“Both have done a great job,” Mooshagian said. “That (center) is probably our most inexperienced position.”

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.

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