Nevada tries to stay hot at home | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada tries to stay hot at home

RENO – Reclaiming Mackay Stadium was one thing Chris Ault stressed when he took control of the Nevada football program last December.

Through three games at Mackay Stadium, the Wolf Pack are 3-0 and have outscored opponents by an average of 34 points per game, including last week’s 35-10 victory over Rice last weekend.

Ault hopes that trend continues when the Wolf Pack (3-4, 1-2) host Tulsa (1-5, 0-2) tonight at 6:05 at Mackay Stadium in a key Western Athletic Conference game.

Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe knows all about Mackay Stadium. He’s been here four times, and he knows that wins are hard to come by in Northern Nevada.

“Nevada is a very good football team, so we’re excited about that opportunity” Kragthorpe said earlier this week. “They have educated fans. They know when to cheer. It can be a tough place to play.

“I thought we improved as a football team last week in terms of the execution we displayed. There’s certainly a lot of room to improve, but I like the way the attitude that our guys played with (45-42 loss to Boise State). Unfortunately the ultimate success is winning or losing a football game and we weren’t able to secure the win.”

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Despite not having any film from previous years to look at, Kragthorpe doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“I think it’s (this year’s films) are probably enough because they have seven games under their belt,” Kragthorpe. “I guess for me I have better knowledge because I played against Chris Ault’s team in 1995 when I was at North Texas and in ’90 when I was at Northern Arizona. I have a better feel for what coach Ault does from an offensive standpoint.

“It’s not very different from what he’s done before. He’s very efficient and very sound in what he does. He’s going to do the same things because his team is going to be good at those things. They’ve gone back to the roots of Nevada football. The quarterback (Jeff Rowe) is playing real well. He played much better against Rice than he has in the past. I think they settled on him and said he is going to be their guy, and he responded extremely well. They’re a team starting to find their niche right now.”

Kragthorpe also is impressed with Chance Kretschmer, who was held to 52 yards last week by Rice.

“Chance is running the ball extremely well,” Kragthorpe said during his weekly news conference. “He’s very efficient. Their offensive line is big, they’re strong and they are physical. They do a lot of things to create seams for Chance to run the football whether it’s zone blocking of their G play that they run.”

Whether Kretschmer can run against Tulsa’s 3-3-5 defense, led by linebacker Michael LeDet, defensive back Nick Bunting and lineman Brandon Lohr is another story. More and more teams are using that defense.

“It’s tough to run against,” said Jim Mastro, Nevada’s running back coach. “They always try to have you outnumbered. If you have six, they are going to have seven.”

Conversely, Ault’s young defense, which played its best game of the season last week against Rice, will have its hands full with Tulsa quarterback James Kilian, who threw for more than 300 yards and three scores against Boise State, and tight end Garrett Mills, who gained 139 yards receiving.

Tulsa also has two fine running backs in Uril Parrish (96 carries, 350 yards) and Brandon Diles (34 carries, 161 yards), and both undoubtedly will play against Nevada.

“We are young,” Ault said. “When you are inexperienced, you have to play with a lot of energy to make up for the experience. They’ve played very hard. We have to be more consistent.”

“They are coming off a fine game with Boise State (45-42 loss). They played a fine team nose to nose. I’m very impressed with Tulsa.”

Kilian is indeed the catalyst for the Golden Hurricane. He finally got time to throw last week and put up impressive numbers.

“James is like any other quarterback,” Kragthorpe said. “It’s hard to throw from a prone position. I tried to do it before and wasn’t very effective. We did some good things in terms of throwing the ball and protecting our passer. James brings the added dimension of being able to scramble out of the pocket and create some plays for us.”

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.