Teams don’t take it on the run vs. Pack
November 18, 2008
RENO ” One of the things that has stood out about Nevada’s season thus far is the Pack’s ability to stop the run.
Entering Saturday’s game (1:07 p.m. at Mackay Stadium) against No. 9 Boise State, the Wolf Pack is No. 2 in the country, allowing 69.3 yards per game on the ground.
Six games ” Grambling State (40 carries, 5 yards), UNLV (23-54), Idaho (28-24), Utah State (37-71), Hawaii (28-42) and San Jose State (16 for minus 23) ” Nevada has held opponents to less than 100 yards for the game. Taking it further, Nevada has allowed an average of 2.3 yards per rush.
The performance by Nevada’s young front seven, which includes three sophomores and two redshirt freshmen, has caught the eye of coaches around the WAC.
“They are committing a lot more people to it,” said SJSU coach Dick Tomey, whose Spartan club gave up trying to run the ball last weekend in a 41-17 loss.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen said he can’t list any one reason why Nevada’s defense is better this year against the run.
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“They are a little bit like us,” Petersen said. “I can’t quite put my finger on it. Guys are playing well, they are very aggressive, get off their blocks and run to the ball.
“As the season goes on, you either pick up steam or lose steam. No question they are getting better. They are playing hard.”
Fresno State coach Pat Hill is impressed with defensive end Kevin Basped, who has been playing well the last three weeks.
Ken Wilson, Nevada’s linebacker coach disagrees partially with Tomey’s statement.
“We’re better at the running game because we emphasized stopping the run,” Wilson said. “We’re not using anymore people than normal to stop it. We’re just doing a better job.
“We’re sending linebackers into different gaps. Teams that like to run the ball (Idaho, Fresno State, San Jose State) haven’t been able to and they get away from it.”
There are also other factors, according to Nevada head coach Chris Ault.
“It’s a combination of things,” Ault said. “One, we have been doing a nice job. People have chosen to throw and we’ve been vulnerable to that. Also there have been times when we’ve jumped ahead of teams and they are forced to throw.”
Indeed. Nevada gives up an average of 318 yards through the air per game, including 519 against Missouri. Not once has Nevada held an opponent to less than 200 yards through the air, which is surprising because the team averages nearly three sacks a game
Mysteriously enough, Nevada did a better job against No. 2 Texas Tech and Heisman Trophy candidate Graham Harlem than it did against either Missouri or New Mexico State, allowing 35 points, but only 297 yards through the air.
And now comes along No. 9 Boise State, a team known for its offensive balance and trickery.
In many ways this might be the most formidable foe yet. Boise State uses a plethora of formations in an effort to confuse opponents.
Boise State averages 450 yards per game, including an average of 163.6 on the ground with its three-headed monster at running back ” Ian Johnson (539 yards, 9 scores), Jeremy Avery (537″3) and D.J. Harper (245″3). Bronco QB Kellen Moore has completed 70 percent of his passes for 2,867 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“Ian is a good back,” Wilson said. “Avery is a good back. Harper runs real hard. Moore is not a runner. He’s kind of like Harrell. He gets himself out of trouble and gets rid of the ball. He’s very accurate.
“Boise State does a lot of stuff. They try to take your eye off the target. We have to make sure our eyes are where they are supposed to be.”
Defensive tackle Mundrae Clifton agreed.
“We can’t let them dictate to us (in terms of their formation),” Clifton said. “We have to dictate to them. A lot of what they do doesn’t affect the defensive front. We just have to be disciplined.”
– Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281
NEVADA’S DEFENSE BY THE NUMBERS
0 Times held opposition to under 200 yards passing
6 Number of games Nevada has held an opponent under 100 yards rushing
17 Turnovers forced
29 Sacks this season