Joe Santoro: Stats do the talking for Nevada Wolf Pack’s Romeo Doubs | NevadaAppeal.com
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Joe Santoro: Stats do the talking for Nevada Wolf Pack’s Romeo Doubs

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal
Nevada wide receiver Romeo Doubs catches a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against UNLV on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/John Locher

You will likely never hear anyone ever label Romeo Doubs a primadonna, look-at-me, give-me-your-love wide receiver. The Nevada Wolf Pack’s touchdown machine is confident, determined and fearless. Boastful, conceited and full of bluster and braggadocio, well, he is not. The young man from Southern California doesn’t gloat, doesn’t strut about with a swagger and will never tell you how good he is. He has the mentality of an offensive lineman, not a wide receiver. Yes, he’s a coach and quarterback’s dream. “I want to humble myself,” the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Wolf Pack junior said recently on the Wolf Pack Coach’s Show on 94.5-FM. “It takes a lot of maturity but I try to maintain my humbleness.” He’s Pack perfection on and off the field, in the end zone as well as in the huddle and locker room. “I wouldn’t say I am open (on the field) every time,” Doubs said. “I stay away from cockiness. There are times when I am not open. But if I am open it’s a big opportunity when they come because you never get those back.” Doubs and quarterback Carson Strong, who live together with tight end Cole Turner, have taken advantage of most of those opportunities. Strong and Doubs have connected 36 times for 778 yards and nine touchdowns already this season in just five games. “I always emphasize the practices,” Doubs said. “With no practice, there’s no telling how you will perform on Saturday.” Perfect.

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Doubs needs just 11 yards Saturday night at Hawaii to become just the 16th Pack player in history with 2,000 or more career receiving yards. With his next touchdown catch he will become the 14th in school history with 10 or more scoring catches in a season. The Wolf Pack could end up playing 10 games this season (eight in regular season plus the Mountain West championship game and a bowl game), meaning Doubs could finish with 70 catches for 1,500 yards (fourth most in school history) and a school-record 18 touchdowns this season. Or more. When you put up those kind of numbers you don’t have to tell anyone how good you are. They will tell you.



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Strong also might be on his way to a record-breaking career. The sophomore has passed for 1,805 yards and 14 touchdowns this year and is on pace for a 3,600-yard, 28-touchdown season over 10 games. Over his last 10 games, dating back to the middle of last season, he has thrown for 3,164 yards and 22 touchdowns and has been intercepted just three times. The Pack single-season records are 4,265 yards and 34 touchdowns, both by Chris Vargas in 1993. Strong has already completed 388-of-589 passes in his career (just 15 games) for 4,140 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has a clear shot at the Pack career records for completions (878 by Cody Fajardo), attempts (1,374 by David Neill), touchdowns (82 by Colin Kaepernick) and yards (10,901 by Neill). He would have had an even greater chance at those records if coach Jay Norvell didn’t bench him for 2 1/2 games last year and COVID-19 didn’t rob him of four games this year. It will also help if Doubs sticks around for his senior year in 2021 instead of going to the NFL.



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Norvell, though, won’t likely bench Strong ever again. “This is what we envisioned,” said Norvell this week of the Pack offense. “I want a quarterback who can change plays (at the line of scrimmage) and adjust the field. And he’s getting to the point where he’s getting pretty good at it.” Norvell said this week that former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore (1998-2008) taught him the value of a quarterback who can change the plays at the line of scrimmage. Norvell, who coached Colts wide receivers from 1998-2001, saw the value of a decision-making quarterback when he watched Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. “Tom Moore gave the quarterback a lot of latitude,” Norvell said, “allowing him to audible and change routes. That’s the best way to play.”

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Norvell, though, did admit this week to a possible coaching mistake during the Wolf Pack’s 26-21 win over San Diego State last Saturday. He called for a pass by Strong on a 2nd-and-11 play from the Wolf Pack 19-yard line with just over three minutes to play and the Pack leading 26-21. The pass was intercepted at the 26-yard line, giving the Aztecs a chance to win the game. San Diego State did get down to the 4-yard line on first down but failed to score. “I kind of put Carson in a tough position, telling him to throw that last ball,” said Norvell, who has been reluctant to point out play-calling blunders in the past. “In hindsight, maybe we should have just played it more conservatively.”

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The Wolf Pack is halfway to its first undefeated season in school history. The closest the Pack has come to a perfect season since 1900 was 2010 (13-1), 1991 (12-1), 1986 (13-1) and 1978 (11-1). The 1978, 1986 and 1991 seasons were blemished by losses in the Division I-AA playoffs, all, oddly enough, in games at Mackay Stadium. The 2010 season’s only setback was at Hawaii in Week 7. This year’s team, by the way, will put its unbeaten season on the line at, you guessed it, Hawaii.

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It is unfortunate that the Wolf Pack dream season is taking place during a pandemic. Norvell seems to go out of his way at every press conference lately to tell us that this year’s Mountain West champion will be a “special, special champion.” Well, all champions are special, even in this goofy season. But no matter who wins the crown this year it’s likely nobody will label that team one of the best in Mountain West history. This is sort of like an exhibition season, forced upon us simply because athletic directors desperately needed television money. There was never any thought to making this a fair and equitable season for every team involved. This entire season, thanks to the pandemic, has a forced, throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks type of feel to it. Not every team is playing the same amount of games. Hardly any team is playing with a full roster on a given week. The games, let alone the location of the games, are haphazard and random and there are little or no fans to deal with on the road. It’s a mess. This is not a football season. It has all the feel of a winter baseball barnstorming tour in the 1920s. Two more Mountain West games were canceled this week, leaving the total number of games this year called off or postponed at eight. Don’t be surprised if the Mountain West football trophy has a mask attached to it. That would be special.