Nevada hopes to break two-year bowl skid
BY DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
Nevada hopes to break a two-year bowl losing streak when it battles Maryland
today in the annual Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl.
Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m. at Bronco Stadium in Boise. The game will be
televised nationally by ESPN.
Nevada lost 21-20 to Miami in 2006 in Boise when it was the MPC Computers
Bowl and were blanked 23-0 by New Mexico at last year’s New Mexico Bowl.
Nevada, 7-5, enters today’s game having won three of its last four games,
including a come-from-behind win over Louisiana Tech. The only blemish in
that span was a 41-34 loss to Boise State.
The Wolf Pack enters the game averaging 510.6 per game and giving up 395.6.
Maryland, meanwhile, averages 341.9 on offense and gives up 355.0 a game on
Nevada’s offense is led by Colin Kaepernick, who passed for 2,479 yards and
19 scores while running for 1,115 yards and 16 scores. All told, Kaepernick
averages nearly 300 yards a game total offense. Vai Taua, thanks to the
offensive line of Dominic Green, John Bender, Mike Gallett, Alonzo Durham,
Brad Eskew and Ken Ackerman enters the game with 1,420 yards rushing and 14
scores. Nevada averaged 291 yards a game rushing this season.
It’s that explosiveness that has Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen concerned.
“Nevada is a very good football team,” Friedgen said. “Offensively speaking,
and I hate to say this, I like what they do on offense. They are very
difficult to defend.
“(Colin) Kaepernick is a special guy who runs and throws. Their running back
(Vai Taua) is very impressive. He’s a strong, physical runner. I can see why
they score a lot of points. I’m impressed with their whole defense. They
have two great cornerbacks and two great pass-rusher on the outside (Dontay
Moch and Kevin Basped).”
Nevada’s bread and butter play this year has been the option, but San Jose
State and Boise State did a good of taking away the running ability of
Kaepernick. It will be interesting to see what Maryland, primarily a zone
team, can do with the option play.
“We’ll make the adjustments we have to make ,”said defensive lineman Jeremy
Navarre. “Everyone has to play a gap and play their responsibility.”
Friedgen said what makes the pistol offense hard to stop is that he hasn’t
seen it before. He has a whole season’s tape to look at, but no doubt he
will pay close attention to the Boise State and SJSU films.
Nevada coach Chris Ault compared Maryland’s physical defense defense with
Missouri. Jeremy Navarre, the Terps’ senior defensive lineman, anchors the
unit along with linebackers Dave Philistin, Alex Wujciak and Moise Fokou.
“Maryland’s defense is as physical as Missouri,” Ault said. “I’m very
familiar with him (Navarre). He’s an exceptional player, at least in our
opinion. They feed off his emotion.”
“They are never out of alignment,” Kaepernick said of the Terps’ defense.
“They are in position to make plays. When plays come their way, they make
them. I’m impressed with how hard and how disciplined they play.”
Maryland’s offense is led by quarterback Chris Turner, who started 10 of 12
games this season. Turner completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,318 yards
and 11 scores. Da’Rel Scott gained 959 yards rushing and Darrius Heyward-Bey
rushed for 208 yards and caught a team-leading 38 passes for 561 yards and
“Chris has had a very solid year,” Friedgen said. “He’s a smart guy. he
makes plays when he has to make them. Those are his strengths.”
Ault remembers Turner from the recruiting trail. Turner played at Chaminade
High in Southern California.
“I like him,” Ault said. “He fits their system very well. He manages the
offense well. He executs, and that’s what you look for in the offense. He’s
Maryland averages 161.4 rushing. Nevada gives up less than 75 a game
rushing. Nevada discouraged Boise State from running, and it will be
interesting to see if it can do the same thing to Maryland.
“They are good against the run for a reason,” Turner said. We know we have
to pass the ball, and hopefully that opens up the run.”