Nevada springs to action
MINDEN — Brian Polian welcomed a little change of scenery on Saturday.
And the third-year University of Nevada football coach welcomed an opportunity to view and evaluate his team Saturday during scrimmage action in its first public appearance of spring ball at Douglas High School.
An estimated 500 fans turned out to watch the Wolf Pack work out for two hours on a warm and sunny day at Keith Roman Field.
The outing provided an opportunity for the Wolf Pack to “get a change of scenery and to play in front of some fans,” Polian said when he addressed fans before the scrimmage action began.
“You’re going to see some newcomers out there that you may not recognize, but that’s an important part of spring football,” Polian said. “You’re seeing some guys who were scout team players last year, and all of a sudden, they’re getting their opportunity now. We’re trying to figure out who’s going to win these battles, and that’s exciting.”
One of the featured competitions is at quarterback, where three candidates are leading candidates to replace three-year standout Cody Fajardo. Tyler Stewart, who served as backup the last two seasons, is competing for the job against sophomore Danté Mayes and redshirt freshman Hunter Fralick.
The final touchdown of the day came on a perfectly thrown 65-yard bomb from Stewart to Braden Sanchez. The two also combined on the first touchdown play when Stewart found Sanchez wide open in the back of the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Sanchez, a junior wide receiver from Hanford High School and Fresno City College in central California, had 86 yards and three touchdowns on four receptions.
The drive for that first touchdown was sparked by back-to-back runs from Don Jackson that gained 15 and 30 yards.
Mayes and Fralick had touchdown runs. Fralick, a redshirt freshman from Spanish Springs High, also threw a short scoring pass to Sanchez.
Junior tight end Jarred Gipson may have had the catch of the day, a bobbling, acrobatic grab of a short pass from Mayes over the middle. That was part of a sequence in which Mayes completed four straight passes, including a 10-yarder to 6-foot-7 junior wide receiver Kameron Richardson.
James Butler sparked some excitement when he busted through two tackles on his way to an 11-yard touchdown run.
“Great toughness right there,” Polian shouted out on the field after the run.
Blake Wright also scored on a pair of 11-yard runs.
There were numerous highlights from the defense, especially in the early going. Seniors Rykeem Yates and Lenny Jones combined to sack Mayes to end the opening series.
Freshman Malik Reed recorded two sacks and cornerback Elijah Moody forced a fumble. Reed, a redshirt freshman from Dothan, Ala., is “having an incredible spring,” Polian noted.
“I was pleased with the work done by both sides of the ball,” Polian said afterward. “There were significant plays made on both offense and defense. I thought the defense controlled the tempo in the early going and then the offense clearly began to exert their will when the ball was moved to the red zone by scoring multiple touchdowns.
“I also know that there is a lot of film for us to teach from and we look forward to getting back with the players tomorrow afternoon to do just that.”
Nevada will practice three more times in the upcoming week before spring ball concludes with the annual Silver and Blue Spring Game on Saturday at Mackay Stadium in Reno.