Polian’s next big move is to replace Fajardo
April 3, 2015
Sports fodder for a Friday morning…Brian Polian is now faced with his biggest decision since he became the head coach of the Nevada Wolf Pack football team in 2013. He needs to pick a starting quarterback. With Cody Fajardo the last two years Polian could concentrate on his clichés and fashioning a new locker room, uniforms and helmets. Those easy, breezy, carefree days are over. Fajardo is now off trying to impress NFL scouts and Polian must choose between a freshman (Hunter Fralick), sophomore (Dante Mayes) and junior (Tyler Stewart) to lead his football team. Polian insists he won't name a starter until the middle of August. Of course, Polian, who knows nothing about the art of playing quarterback other than how Jim Kelly and Peyton Manning made his dad famous, isn't really going to be choosing the next quarterback. That honor better fall to offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. Rolovich has played the position. He's coached the position. He'll pick the right one.
Fralick, a Spanish Springs High graduate, is the local favorite to win the job. But it's extremely difficult for a head coach to turn his program over to a freshman quarterback in Week 1. The last Pack quarterback to start the first game of his freshman season was Jeff Rowe (2003). He fumbled the ball away on his first two running plays. Chris Ault didn't start freshman Colin Kaepernick (2007) or freshman Cody Fajardo (2011) to open the season. Ault didn't want to sacrifice his fantastic freshmen at the start of those seasons to the likes of Nebraska and Northwestern (in 2007) or Oregon, Texas Tech and Boise State (in 2011). We understand Polian doesn't like to do anything Ault did but he might be wise to do the same. The Pack has tough games in Weeks 2 (Arizona) and 3 (Texas A&M) this year so the best strategy might be to name Stewart the starter and see if he survives. And if he doesn't, well, you always have the fantastic freshman (Fralick) to go to in Week 4.
The next Wolf Pack quarterback, of course, will have to deal with being compared to Kaepernick and Fajardo. It's a comparison that's almost impossible to live up to because, well, Kaepernick and Fajardo were once-a-generation athletes. And the longer they are away from Nevada, the better they will become. Most Pack fans now don't believe Kaepernick ever lost a game at Nevada. It's time we stop making Kaepernick and Fajardo into supermen. Yes, Kap and Cody were terrific athletes and put up outstanding numbers. But don't forget the last eight years under the two super human quarterbacks produced just one bowl victory and one conference championship (both in 2010). Seven of their eight seasons ended in disappointment. Kaepernick started 11-13 as the starter and Fajardo finished 11-18. When you look at it that way, that's not such a tough standard for Stewart, Mayes or Fralick to deal with.
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Fajardo, it seems, has a decent chance to get picked in the NFL Draft on April 30-May 2. He's being looked at as a poor man's version of Kaepernick. They both have scattershot arms and Fajardo is a touch slower, shorter in stature and his arm is weaker than his Wolf Pack predecessor. One team that seems particularly interested in Fajardo is Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles. Fajardo, who worked out for the Eagles last month, did rush for 58 yards and a 7-yard touchdown and completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards against Kelly's Oregon Ducks in 2011. He certainly has the skill set to run Kelly's fast-paced offense. Fajardo is going to need a coach like Kelly, who thinks outside the box, to have more than a cup of coffee in the NFL.
Wisconsin can beat Kentucky on Saturday. The Badgers, after all, almost beat Kentucky last year in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky should have lost to Notre Dame last weekend. Yes, Kentucky is 38-0 but Wisconsin is 20-1 since late February. The Badgers know they can beat Kentucky and Kentucky better know it can lose to Wisconsin. A Wisconsin victory on Saturday wouldn't even be among the top 250 upsets in NCAA tournament history. Wisconsin 79, Kentucky 74.
Michigan State is doing it with mirrors. That's not a great college basketball team. At times this year it wasn't even good. But Tom Izzo is, without question, one of the best coaches in NCAA Tournament history. The problem for the Spartans on Saturday, though, is Izzo is going up against another amazing NCAA Tournament coach in Mike Krzyzewski. Duke 77, Michigan State 67.
The Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants each seem to be headed to a third-place finish at best. There won't even be a wild card spot waiting for them. The A's are already hurt (Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Sean Doolittle) and they have a lineup that could feature the likes of Ike Davis, Marcus Semien and Sam Fuld. The Giants have Madison Bumgarner and a bunch of sore and worn out arms in the starting rotation and nobody knows if Casey McGehee can replace Pablo Sandoval, whether or not Joe Panik will be exposed over an entire season or if Angel Pagan can play more than three games in a row without hurting something. Do yourself a favor, Bay area fans. Concentrate on the Golden State Warriors this spring.
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