Ault happy with Pack’s first scrimmage | NevadaAppeal.com

Ault happy with Pack’s first scrimmage

JOE SANTORO
For the Nevada Appeal

RENO – Chris Ault was all smiles Saturday morning at Mackay Stadium.

“Both sides of the ball showed flashes,” the Nevada head coach said after the Wolf Pack’s first of three scrimmages this spring. “It was a good-hitting scrimmage.”

There was one play that might have been little too hard-hitting. Safety Duke Williams’ afternoon ended after he collided with running back Nick Hale on a pass route about mid-way through the scrimmage. Williams was knocked onto his back and remained on the field for several minutes before walking off with the help of teammates and coaches.

“We’ll have to wait after we do some (concussion) tests to find out anything,” Ault said. “You don’t want to see anybody get hurt at any time of the year. But it’s a physical, violent game. But you won’t keep that guy down for long.”

Ault was particularly impressed with the defense early in the scrimmage. The defense dominated the first four drives, intercepting two passes (by linebackers Jeremiah Green and Reggie Coates) and holding the run game to just 34 yards on 10 carries.

“Early on the defense was very, very good,” said Ault, who personally lifted the defense’s energy level for this scrimmage with a very physical and demanding practice Friday afternoon. “They were flying around the ball and making things happen.”

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Green’s interception came on starting quarterback Cody Fajardo’s fifth pass of the scrimmage. Coates picked off backup quarterback Tanner Roderick on the fourth drive.

“My coaches set that up for me,” said Coates, who is making his Wolf Pack debut this spring as a gray-shirt freshman. “They told me, ‘Know the play, know your assignment, get your drop on coverage, be ready to make a play.’ I should have scored.”

“He’s (Coastes) got a great motor,” smiled Ault. “And he’s not afraid to hit people.”

The offense kept thing fairly basic during the 98-play scrimmage. The three quarterbacks (Fajardo, Roderick and Devin Combs) combined to complete 16-of-29 passes for just 122 yards and the running game picked up 322 yards on 69 carries.

Combs played well, completing 4-of-8 passes for 29 yards and running for 25 yards on two carries.

“Devin is the strongest (physically) quarterback we’ve had here in many years,” Ault said. “He’s getting better and better. But I liked what I saw from all three of our quarterbacks.”

Running back Stefphon Jefferson turned in the only real highlight of the day on offense, bursting up the middle for a 57-yard touchdown. Jefferson, a junior in 2012, also scored on runs of four and 10 yards and finished his afternoon with 96 yards on 13 carries and three scores.

“We’re counting on him this year,” said Ault of Jefferson. “The long run was nice but that’s not the type of things we’re looking at. We’re looking at the inside stuff, how he handles that, and he did a nice job overall.”

Fajardo, who completed 11-of-17 passes for 90 yards and an interception, also ran the ball well. He finished with 58 yards on 11 carries but a few of his long runs were called back and limited to five yards in order to give the offense more work in the scrimmage. If allowed to actually finish his runs, he would have likely surpassed 100 yards with a couple scores.

“We kept things fairly simple on offense,” Ault said. “But it was much the same stuff we’re doing in practice. It’s a lot of subtle things right now.”

Kendal Brock ran for 40 yards on 11 carries, Hale picked up 23 on seven carries (and the one catch for three yards) and Tony Knight ran for 56 yards on 11 carries.

“I think things went pretty well,” Knight said. “I started off a little slow but the whole offense picked things up as we went along.”

Knight, a red-shirt freshman in 2012, had two carries of nine yards and two more of 10 yards.

“This is definitely a lot more fun than practice,” said Knight of the scrimmage. “It’s just fun to see every dimension of the defense and get a chance to go at them when they are going full speed.”

The Wolf Pack will scrimmage again the next two Saturdays.