Nevada football hopes to have strong finish | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada football hopes to have strong finish

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Good start or good finish?

If you talk to football or basketball coaches, most of the time they say getting off to a good start in a hostile environment is critical because it can take the home fans out of the game.

Nevada’s Chris Ault, who leads Nevada into its season-opener at Fresno State Friday night (5 p.m., ESPN), doesn’t share that opinion.

“It’s more important to have a good finish,” Ault said. “We’ve got to have the lead.

“It’s going to be loud. Everyone is against you. It will be a great college atmosphere. It’s as good as it gets.”

Quarterback Jeff Rowe took a slightly different stance.

“Momentum is a big thing,” Rowe said. “You don’t want to make a mistake (early on especially) that gives the other team a chance to change the momentum.”

MILAN GETS NOD

J.J. Milan will be in the starting lineup for the first time since the 2004 season on Friday night.

Milan broke his foot in the spring of 2004, and missed the entire 2005 season. He was going to be switched to a linebacker in the Pack’s 3-4 scheme. Ezra Butler played what was supposed to be Milan’s spot last year, and he excelled.

When spring practice started this year, Milan was moved back to defensive line, battling Erics Clark and Charles Wilson for a defensive end slot.

“He flat beat him (Wilson) out,” Ault said. “Charles injured his ankle and missed a couple of practices.”

“J.J. had a solid pre-camp,” said Barry Sacks, the Pack’s co-defensive coordinator. “He showed during camp to be durable. That’s the thing with him. His durability is the key to his success.”

Sacks insists that Wilson and Milan will get plenty of snaps.

“Charles Wilson is a darn good football player,” Sacks said. “J.J. is a little more established. He looked good rushing the passer.”

PUNTING PLANS

As of pre-practice Tuesday, punters Zach Whited and Tommy Barcia were still neck-and-neck for the punting job. It’s possible that both punters will travel for Friday’s game.

Neither punter has punted in a Division I game before. This is Barcia’s third year in the program. Whited is a JC transfer.

FRESNO STATE NAMES QB

Tom Brandstater has won the Bulldogs’ starting job over fellow sophomore Sean Norton.

This is Brandstater’s third year in the program. He played in eight games last year, completing 6 of 13 passes with one interception for 49 yards and a score. Brandstater is more of a drop-back passer, Norton is more of a roll-out, scrmbling type of quarterback.

FACTS & FIGURES

Nevada is leaving for Fresno mid-morning, and the team’s charter flight will arrive in Fresno in time for the team to have its walkthrough in Fresno… A sellout crowd of 40,000 is expected for the season-opener …Fresno State has 11 returners that have played in at least 30 games … Fresno State coach Pat Hill enters his 10th season at the helm, the longest tenure of any coach in the WAC. Of schools on the West Coast, only Oregon’s Mike Bellotti has been at a school longer… Nevada appointed Matt Hines and Joe Garcia as its defensive captains, and Rowe and Anthony Pudewell are the offensive captains.