Notes: Wilson, staff won’t need introductions

Mackay Stadium (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

Mackay Stadium (Photo: Nevada Athletics)

Head coach Ken Wilson might not know many of his Nevada Wolf Pack football players right now but he is certainly familiar with the vast majority of his first coaching staff.
Wilson, who returned to Nevada last month after nine seasons combined as an assistant at Washington State and Oregon, has previously coached with eight of his 10 new assistants.
The only two new Pack assistants that Wilson has not coached with in the past are defensive line coach C.J. Ah You and offensive line coach Louie Addazio. Both Ah You and Addazio, though, have direct or indirect connections with former Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell. Ah You coached with Norvell at Oklahoma in 2014 and Addazio was a member of the staff at Colorado State the last two years that was fired last month and replaced by Norvell and a handful of former Pack assistants.
Wilson, though, did not look far and wide to find his other eight new assistants. His first hire last month was retaining Norvell’s running backs coach Vai Taua, a Pack player from 2006-10 when Wilson was a Nevada assistant. Wilson then announced the additions of seven more assistants last week and this week that he coached with in the past.
Four of Wilson’s new hires coached with him at Oregon from 2019-21: Jalen Ortiz (cornerbacks), Nate Costa (quarterbacks), Kwame Agyeman (co-defensive coordinator) and Mason Baggett (strength and conditioning). Three more coached with Wilson at Washington State from 2013-18: Derek Sage (offensive coordinator), Joe Bolden (special teams) and Mike Bethea (co-defensive coordinator).
Two of the new assistants have an even deeper relationship with Wilson. Sage, a Sparks native, was a Wolf Pack graduate assistant in 2003 and in 2004 (when Wilson was a Pack assistant). Bethea was a graduate assistant with the Pack in 2011-12 and a Pack player in 2008 and 2009 when Wilson was a Pack assistant.
ALMOST A COMPLETE COACHING OVERHAUL: Taua and special teams analyst Jack Ray, so far, are the lone members of the 2021 Wolf Pack organization retained by Wilson.
Former Wolf Pack assistants from this past season that joined Norvell at Colorado State are Matt Mumme (quarterbacks), Bill Best (offensive line), Jordon Simmons (strength and conditioning), Chad Savage (tight ends), Timmy Chang (wide receivers) and Thomas Sheffield (special teams). Colton Bosnos (Director of Football Operations), Lucas Gauthier (Director of Player Personnel) and Jeremy Copeland (Director of Player Development) also left to join Norvell at Colorado State.
Defensive coordinator Brian Ward left the Wolf Pack in December to accept the same position with Washington State.
Other Pack assistants in 2021 that are not listed on the current Pack coaching roster are Jackie Shipp (defensive ends), Ronnie Wheat (linebackers) and Riccardo Stewart (defensive backs).
FAMILIAR PACK NAMES IN BOWL: Wolf Pack fans might not have recognized many names that played for the Pack in the season-ending 52-24 loss to Western Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 27. But there will be three familiar Pack names in the Senior Bowl next month.
Quarterback Carson Strong, wide receiver Romeo Doubs and tight end Cole Turner, who all had eligibility remaining with the Pack, will play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 5.
Strong played 12 games this season and completed 366-of-523 passes for 4,175 yards and 36 touchdowns. Strong’s completions, touchdowns and attempts are Wolf Pack single-season records. Chris Vargas still owns the single-season record for yards with 4,265 in 1993.
Doubs led the Wolf Pack with 80 receptions for 1,109 yards and 11 touchdowns. Turner caught 62 passes for 677 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The three Pack players will be joined in Mobile by five other Mountain West players: Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir, San Diego State tight end Daniel Bellinger and defensive lineman Cameron Thomas, Colorado State tight end Trey McBride and Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma.
Strong, Doubs and Turner will be the first Nevada players to play in the Senior Bowl since offensive lineman Austin Corbett in 2018. Strong will be the first Pack quarterback in the game since Colin Kaepernick in 2011. The last six Senior Bowl Most Valuable Players have been quarterbacks: Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott (2016), California’s Davis Webb (2017), Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta (2018), Duke’s Daniel Jones (2019), Oregon’s Justin Herbert (2020) and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond (2021).
MUSSELMAN’S RAZORBACKS IN SLUMP: Eric Musselman is experiencing something this season that he rarely had to deal with as the Nevada Wolf Pack’s men’s basketball coach from 2015-19.
An extended losing streak.
Musselman’s Arkansas Razorbacks, who went 25-7 and went to the Elite Eight last season, have lost three games in a row and five of their last six. The Razorbacks are now 10-5 heading into Wednesday’s game against Missouri after starting the season 9-0.
“Anytime in life, whether you win or lose, you just have to go back to work,” Musselman said this week. “We’re trying, we’re searching, we’re trying to do everything we can.”
Musselman’s Razorbacks lost two in a row twice last season and four-of-five during one stretch before getting hot late in the year. The Razorbacks lost five in a row and 6-of-7 in Musselman’s first season in Arkansas in 2019-20 before finishing with a 20-12 record.
Musselman’s Wolf Pack teams never lost more than two games in a row over his four seasons at Nevada.
“I’m always confident every time I go out there but there’s an angst before every game,” Musselman said. “But you have to create your own confidence now (during a losing streak).”
AIR FORCE BEST RUSHING TEAM IN NATION: The Air Force Falcons, who operate out of a run-based triple-option offense, finished this season as the leading rushing team in the country.
Air Force averaged 327.7 rushing yards a game this season over 13 games. The Falcons ran the ball 834 times for 4,260 yards and 44 touchdowns. Air Force’s Brad Roberts led the Mountain West this season with 1,356 rushing yards on a school-record 299 carries. Air Force also led the nation in rushing in 2020 at 305.7 yards a game.
The Nevada Wolf Pack, by comparison, were last (12th) in the Mountain West and 129th out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision schools with 77.4 rushing yards a game.
The Wolf Pack, though, ranked in the nation’s Top 25 in rushing in all nine seasons (2004-12) under head coach Chris Ault, the last eight while running the pistol offense.
Ault’s Wolf Pack led the nation in rushing in 2009 at 344.9 yards a game. The Pack had three of the top four runners in the nation in 2009 in yards per carry: Vai Taua (7.8), Luke Lippincott (7.7) and Colin Kaepernick (7.3).
The Pack was also third in the nation in rushing in 2008 (277.8) and 2010 (292.2), seventh in 2012 (271.0) and eighth in 2011 (247.5).
PACK GAME RESCHEDULED: The Wolf Pack’s men’s basketball game against Wyoming at Lawlor Events Center will now be played Monday night (Jan. 17). The game, originally scheduled for Jan. 4, was postponed because of health and safety protocols within the Wyoming program.
The Wolf Pack, which hosts Boise State at Lawlor Events Center on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m.), also has two other Mountain West games that were postponed (at San Jose State on Dec. 29 and at San Diego State on Jan. 8) that have yet to be rescheduled.
The Mountain West has announced that all league games that are postponed will either be rescheduled or considered a no contest.
HAYES, PRIETO GET BIG LEAGUE JOBS: Former Wolf Pack catcher Brett Hayes (2003-05) was recently named to the Texas Rangers staff as a bullpen coach while former Pack outfielder (1993) Chris Prieto was named as the Tampa Bay Rays first base coach.
Hayes, a career .339 hitter (237-for-699) at Nevada with 37 doubles, five triples, 22 home runs and 156 RBI, was drafted in the second round by the Florida Marlins in 2005. He played parts of seven seasons (2009-15) in the major leagues with the Florida and Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians, hitting .205 (89-for-434) with 13 homers and 37 RBI. Hayes served as a scout with the Rangers for the past four years.
Prieto, who hit .353 with 35 stolen bases and nine triples in his one season for the Pack (1993), returns to the field after coaching first and third base for the Seattle Mariners from 2017-19.
Prieto spent the last two seasons as an organizational instructor in the Rays minor league system.
Prieto’s major league career consisted of two at-bats (no hits) with the Los Angeles Angels in 2005. Prieto, a 24th round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 1993, has also been a long-time minor league coach and manager since retiring as a player.

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