McIntosh, Rippee moving up depth chart
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Former Douglas High stars Luke Rippee and Andy McIntosh came to Nevada three years ago as preferred walk-ons, and slowly they are working their way up the Wolf Pack’s depth chart.
Rippee and McIntosh, both sophomores eligibility-wise, are on the three-deep chart at safety and wide receiver, respectively. McIntosh was on the traveling squad the entire 2005 season, and Rippee traveled until he broke his left foot in a practice drill last year.
Rippee, the 2004 Northern Nevada Player of the Year, played quarterback and safety at Douglas. Nevada used him at cornerback the past two years, but Rippee is now playing strong safety. He’s currently behind Uche Anyanwu and Mike Samples, two talented sophomores.
“I’m more comfortable there,” Rippee said. “It’s where I think I can make more plays. All I can do is play hard. It’s pretty much what I’ve done since I got here. I’m just trying to hang in there.”
Rippee is still playing special teams, and one more thing has been added to his plate. He’s currently one of the holders for field goals and extra points, joining quarterbacks Travis Moore and Nick Graziano. Rippee held down the same job at Douglas.
McIntosh has seen the bulk of his playing time on the special teams thus far too, and the 6-foot-2 190-pound receiver has excelled. Five times he was awarded a black jersey which goes to special teams stalwarts on a weekly basis.
The coaches sometimes joked last year that they were going to retire one of the black jerseys in his honor. McIntosh registered 11 tackles and one fumble recovery covering kicks and punts in 2005.
“I’m still on all of them (special teams) right now,” said McIntosh, who played some special teams at Douglas. “It was an opportunity to get on the field.
“The biggest adjustment was my redshirt year (2004). I was on the scout team and didn’t travel. Just playing special teams (last year) wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t hard to get into that role. I just wanted to get on the field and contribute.”
McIntosh wants to contribute from the line of scrimmage this year, too. His playing time at wide receiver was limited to a few snaps against Idaho in a 62-14 blowout win.
“Hopefully I’ll get some more plays on offense,” said McIntosh, who had three catches for 23 yards in Nevada’s first scrimmage. “I have to get more consistent the last couple of weeks of camp to get more time on the field in situations where it counts.
“I need to focus more. I have to consistently go 100 percent. When we run seam routes, I seem to be hitting the seam at 80 or 90 percent. I have to go full speed the whole time. There is always the blocking (to improve on). I have to get tougher. When we go without a tight end, I have to block a linebacker or defensive end. I have to have good form and toughness because they are 50 or 60 pounds heavier than me.”
McIntosh is an X receiver in Nevada’s three-receiver scheme. Junior Kyle Sammons is the starter, and McIntosh and Rocco Bene are the back-ups.
“He’s a slot guy for us,” receivers coach Scott Baumgartner said. “That’s the right spot for him.
“Andy is a super kid. He works hard and can catch the ball. We have no problem with his ball skills. He’s done a great job of learning and understanding what we want.”
Baumgartner said that all McIntosh needs is a little more experience and learning to run better routes.
“It’s a matter of learning how to run them the right way, and doing it over and over. He needs to develop consistency (in all phases).”
If McIntosh wants to move up the depth chart, he knows there is no room for error. He must perform at a top level all the time, and that means no mistakes. That’s a lot of pressure for anybody, but Nevada’s roster is dotted with talented wide receivers, and there is pressure to perform.
Despite his three catches last week, McIntosh was disappointed because he made a couple of mistakes, one of which came on a shovel pass from quarterback Jeff Rowe where he didn’t get to the designated spot quick enough and the play only went for short yardage.
“I ran a couple of bad routes,” McIntosh said. “That stuff is more mental. That’s what it comes down to most of the time.”
Nevada has four or five difference makers on its team, and it’s guys like McIntosh and Rippee that just have to play solid, fundamental football each time they step onto the field.