Nevada takes on Colorado State
Appeal Sports Writer
Nevada hopes to continue one streak and end another when it visits Colorado State in a nonconference football game today in Ft. Collins.
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. (Channel 27, ESPN Radio 630 AM) at Hughes Stadium. Nevada enters the contest at 1-1 and Colorado State is 0-2.
The Pack is on a definite high after knocking of in-state rival UNLV 22-14, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Rebels. Nevada has yet to beat the Rams in seven attempts.
Nevada coach Chris Ault must bring his team off Cloud 9 this week and get ready for a tough game.
“All they need to do is look at Colorado State film,” Ault said. “That should be enough. We have to get ready to play a physical football team. They want to run the ball; they want to come after you.
“They play sound defense. This will be a great test for us.”
UNLV pushed Nevada around at times on the ground, but the Pack defense, led by linebacker Roosevelt Cooks, defensive end Craig Bailey and cornerback Joey Garcia, allowed only 14 points.
“They’re blitzing everybody at once,” CSU wide receiver Dustin Osborn said. “We have to be ready for everything they throw at us. They don’t have one specific defense.”
Conversely, the Rams have had problems moving the ball in its opening losses to Colorado (Big 12) and Minnesota (Big 10), two tough teams from two big conferences. The Rams are averaging 2.6 per carry and have just one rushing touchdown. Kyle Bell leads the Rams with a 4.7 average on 18 carries.
“Nevada is not as physical or strong on defense (compared to Minnesota and Colorado),” CSU coach Sonny Lubick said at his weekly press conference. “I’d like to see an improved running game and penalties; lack of penalties.
“You have some adversity. Things don’t always go like you’d like them to go. The thing we have to do, is when things go bad, is really pick it up and play through momentum swings. We’ve had eight practices between games. I hope we see improvement.”
While the Rams aren’t a prolific team through the air, Justin Holland has completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 502 yards and four scores, three to Dustin Osborn (8 catches, 121 yards). Holland’s back-up, Caleb Hanie, has played sparingly in both losses, completing 47 percent of his passes for 151 yards and two scores. Lubick would love to get Hanie some more playing time.
“I don’t think you can go in and script it,” Lubick said. “I don’t think you can go in and say you’re playing the second quarter and play two series. You have to go with the quarterback you have. Caleb has worked hard.
“Hopefully our offense can get into a rhythm. We’ve had only spurts of that the first two games. Of course, the other team has something to do with that.”
Nevada’s offense had its moments against UNLV, but settled for field goals several times when the offense sputtered in the red zone, or gold zone as Ault calls it.
“The majority of the problem was execution,” Ault said. “We just didn’t execute well.”
Save for that problem, the Pack offense has moved the ball well, averaging 389 yards a game after two contests.
Quarterback Jeff Rowe has completed 40 of 64 passes for 484 yards and one score. His 242 yards per game ranks second in the WAC. Caleb Spencer has caught 19 balls for 275 yards and a score, including a 12-catch, 144-yard effort against UNLV. A year ago, he had two games of more than 100 yards, and he’s already matched that. Nichiren Flowers has seven catches in his lone game played, and his presence on the field is helping Spencer immensely.
“Caleb has played well,” Ault said. “Jeff has been solid.”
Nevada has run the ball effectively, as senior B.J. Mitchell is averaging 4.6 yards on 31 attempts.
NOTES: Shannon Sevor, Andy McIntosh, Roosevelt Cooks and punter Justin Bergendahl were the top specialists from the UNLV game. Tony Moll, the weakside tackle, won the Basalite Award for offensive line play. McIntosh, a redshirt freshman from Douglas High, and Bergendahl have won the award two weeks in a row.
n Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281