RENO - The mood of Nevada's football team has been a bit somber this week.
Nevada players know they let a huge opportunity slip away when they lost 28-26 to Hawaii last Friday, and have really put themselves behind the proverbial 8-ball with two games left in the season.
The good news, however, is that Nevada still has a shot at a bowl game. If Nevada (5-5, 3-3) can win at San Jose State (4-7, 3-4) on Saturday and also beat Louisiana Tech (5-6, 4-3) at home on Dec. 1, the Pack would finish in fourth place and advance to a bowl game should Hawaii or Boise State qualify for a BCS game.
"It's tough," Nevada coach Chris Ault said. "We have to (bounce back). It's early right now. The most important thing is preparing for San Jose State (and not worrying about being bowl eligible)."
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick agreed.
"It's hard losing a game like that," he said. "We have to get re-focused for San Jose State. It's frustrating to lose like that."
Dominic Green, the center and leader of the offensive line, said some of the blame has to go to the offense for its failure to convert on the final couple of drives in the fourth quarter.
"It's third-and-1 and we get stopped," Green said. "We were only getting one or two yards on first down. That comes down to the offensive line.
"We should have won. We had our chances. You have to make your own destiny."
And, Green shrugged off talk about the Davone Bess fumble in the fourth quarter where the receiver was ruled down on contact, meaning Nevada couldn't challenge the play. Hawaii went on to score a TD on the drive for a 25-19 lead.
And, he isn't even thinking about a bowl game, either.
"We have to go out there and win these last two for ourselves," Green said. "We have enough on our plate right now."
Ault was pleased with what he saw on defense in the Hawaii game, and he certainly hopes it can be carried over to this week's game.
Nevada held Hawaii to a season-low three touchdowns and two 45-yard field goals. Certainly Colt Brennan not playing hardly at all was one key, but Nevada also has played most of the season without starters like Erics Clark and Jon Amaya.
"We played much better defense in the second half," said Ken Wilson, Nevada's defensive coordinator. "Our run defense was much better. We figure if we hold Hawaii to under 100 yards rushing we have a good chance to win. We held them to 51, but didn't come out on the right end.
"We talked about keeping things in front of us. We allowed only one long play (52 yards) and Paul (Pratt) slipped on that play. We made them work; drive the ball."
AULT UNDER FIRE
Coach Chris Ault has come under a little fire for his clock management in the fourth quarter, especially on the last drive when he let 40 seconds click off before he called a timeout.
Ault told reporters that he thought Hawaii would throw the ball one more time to get closer for a shorter field goal. He said he had enough confidence that his team would block a game-winning field goal attempt.
The Pack didn't and lost a heartbreaker. Certainly the fans could focus on more than just a game-winning field goal. It was one snap out of more than 140. Plenty of things happened in that game that contributed to the loss.
Former Douglas star Andy McIntosh had one of his best games on special teams, registering three tackles on kickoff returns.
On two of the three he came all the way across from the right side of the field to make the tackle. His performance earned him a coveted black shirt which is given each week for outstanding special teams play.