Nevada football to host San Jose State today
With a win against the
Spartans today, Wolf Pack would be eligible for postseason
BY DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
RENO ” Nevada’s “Must Win Tour” comes back to Mackay Stadium today for a Western Athletic Conference showdown with San Jose State.
Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 630 AM.
This game has huge bowl implications for both teams. San Jose State is 6-4 overall and 4-2 in conference and already bowl eligible, though six wins might not be enough to get invited to a game this year. The Spartans finish up with Fresno State next week. Nevada is 5-4 overall and 3-3 in conference and finishes with Boise State and Louisiana Tech.
San Jose State coach Dick Tomey and Nevada coach Chris Ault both have said that a bowl game is the furthest thing from their minds. Neither wants to get ahead of themselves. They are in a one-game-at-a-time mode, but both know what’s at stake.
Ault was very complimentary of the Spartans, especially their defensive unit, which is led by defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, who leads the nation in tackles for loss with 19.5; defensive end Carl Ihenacho, linebacker Duke Ihenacho and cornerback Christopher Owens. The Spartans allow under 300 yards per game.
“San Jose State is the best defense we’ve faced so far (in conference),” Ault said. “They are strong against the run and they play good pass defense.”
Tomey returned the favor.
“It’s hard to see how they have lost a couple of games,” Tomey said of the Wolf Pack. “They are an excellent football team, certainly the second-best team we will play in our conference. Boise State is the best team we’ve played in our conference.
“(Nevada) plays well on defense. They are suffocating against the run no matter who they put out there at defensive end. They are a nightmare on offense. (Quarterback Colin) Kaepernick has done a great job throwing and running the football and Vai (Taua) has done a great job running the football. They have an outstanding offensive line that really gets off the ball.”
This comes down to a battle of Nevada’s offensive front of Dominic Green, John Bender, Mike Gallett, Kenny Ackerman, Alonzo Durham and Brad Eskew against Gilbert & Co., which gives up only 19 points per game.
“Their run defense on the whole is very solid,” Kaepernick said. “They play very fast. It’s been a great feeling we’ve been able to run like we have. Our offensive line has dominated. Vai hasn’t been getting hit until he’s three, four or five yards downfield.”
“We’ve given up a couple hundred yards a game the last two weeks on the ground,” Tomey said. “We’ve done some good things, but not enough to win games. There have been too many seams. We haven’t played well enough to say we’re anything special up front.”
Tomey is concerned about his offense, and with good reason. The Spartans are still stinging from a 21-0 loss to Louisiana Tech.
Against the Bulldogs, San Jose State managed just 148 yards total offense ” 30 on the ground and 118 through the air. San Jose State averaged 1.1 yards per carry, as Chris Reese gained 46 yards on 13 carries filling in for Yonus Davis, who wasn’t listed on the Spartans’ depth chart as of Friday morning.
Quarterback Kyle Reed, who missed the Idaho win with a tailbone injury, came off the bench against Tech but had little success. Reed went 4-for-14 passing for 72 yards.
“We have to be more inconsistent,” Tomey said. “We have to get consistent play out of the quarterback spot, which we haven’t had in the last month. We have to block people up front better.”
Reed, who came in on the third possession of the second quarter, said his injury wasn’t a factor.
“I took a couple of shots, but I’m fine,” Reed said. “I’m looking forward (to playing Nevada) and getting this taste out of our mouths.”
Without Davis, the Spartans’ running game lacks explosiveness and experience. Tomey admits that if Davis doesn’t play it hurts the offense, but he won’t use it as an excuse. He said other people like Reese or Brandon Rutley have to step up.
“Reese is a good inside runner,” Tomey said. “He’s not big, but he’s tough inside. He’s a north-south runner.”
The Spartans’ offense faces a Nevada defense which is coming one of its best efforts of the season against Fresno State. Nevada played exceptional defense on first down throughout the contest, and was able to get off the field in key situations which it hadn’t done earlier in the season.
Nevada has been getting exceptional play from outside linebacker James Michael Johnson, improved play from freshman cornerback Isaiah Frey and consistent play from defensive ends Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch.
NOTE: Going into this weekend, 50 teams are already bowl eligible, with six or more wins, and there are 19 with five wins. A total of 68 teams is needed to fill all the bowl slots.
– Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 881-1281