Nevada Wolf Pack notes: ‘Ultimate confidence’ and ‘peanut butter and jelly’
For the Nevada Appeal
Brandon Talton continues to amaze his Nevada Wolf Pack teammates and coaches.
“When he kicks one I don’t even have to look,” Wolf Pack safety Austin Arnold said of the Wolf Pack’s freshman field goal kicker. “I just know he’s going to knock it down. We all have the ultimate confidence in Brandon.”
Talton kicked two field goals, including a 40-yard game-winner as time expired, and five extra points in Saturday’s 41-38 win over San Jose State at Mackay Stadium and was named the Mountain West’s Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday.
“He is so mature,” Wolf Pack coach Jay Norvell said. “He just expects to make every kick. He gets upset at himself even when he makes one if he feels he didn’t hit it solid. He’s already made two game-winning field goals this year and he’s only played six games in his career. When you watch the highlights from the Top 25 games you can tell a lot of teams wish they had a good field goal kicker like Brandon.”
Talton also beat Purdue 34-31 with a walk-off 56-yard field goal this season in the season opener. It is the third longest field goal in Wolf Pack history behind a pair of 58-yarders by Damon Fine (against UNLV in 2001) and Tony Zendejas (against Boise State in 1983). Talton’s kick against Purdue is also tied for the fourth longest in Mountain West history.
Talton has made all 12 of his field goal attempts this season and is one of just nine kickers in the FBS without a miss. Only Peyton Henry of Washington (14-of-14) has made more field goals without a miss than Talton.
The most field goals made in a row in one FBS season is 25 by Washington’s Chuck Nelson in 1982. Nelson also made a record 30 in a row over two seasons (1981-82).
The Wolf Pack school record for most field goals in a season by a freshman is 22 by Marty Zendejas in 1984.
The Wolf Pack school record for field goal percentage (at least 15 successful field goals) is 20-of-22 by Damon Shea in 1996 (91 percent).
Talton’s 12 successful field goals in a row are the most by a Pack kicker to start a season without a miss since at least 1999.
TASTY RUNNING BACK DUO: Devonte Lee says the Wolf Pack’s running back tandem of Toa Taua and himself is like “peanut butter and jelly.”
“We complement each other,” said Lee, who had 10 carries for 24 yards and two short touchdown runs in the victory over San Jose State. “He has the speed and the moves to get outside and make big plays. I call him jelly because he has a little shake to his game. I’m more like peanut butter because when we need someone to knock somebody’s helmet off, that’s when I come in.”
Taua (5-foot-9, 210 pounds) had a career-high 34 carries against San Jose State for 160 yards and now has 429 yards and three touchdowns this year on 95 carries. The 5-foot-8., 230-pound Lee returned from a knee injury just two games ago and now has 28 yards on 11 carries this year.
“Getting Devonte Lee back is huge,” Norvell said. “They (opponents) just don’t like tackling him. He’s a load. I like that combination (of Taua and Lee) running downhill.”
“I know I hate tackling him in practice,” Arnold said. “It’s a hassle. I just go for his legs and hope to get him down that way.”
PRACTICE TIME CHANGE: Norvell said Monday that the Wolf Pack will practice at night this week in preparation for their 7:15 p.m. kickoff at Utah State on Saturday.
“It’s good to change things up this time of year,” Norvell said.
“I like it,” Arnold said. “I need to get some rest during the day because I’ve had a lot of homework lately.”
SAN JOSE STATE REACTION: The San Jose State Spartans have now lost 15 of their last 17 games to the Wolf Pack, dating back to 2001. But the Spartans did not take any encouragement from losing to the Pack by just three points on Saturday after rallying from a 31-10 deficit.
“None of us should feel good about what happened,” Spartans coach Brent Brennan said on Saturday. “We had a chance to win the game. And we didn’t win it. We’re jogging off the field after the game and people are telling us, ‘good game.’ It is not a good game. A good game is when you finish and get the win.”
San Jose State has not won at Mackay Stadium since 2000 (49-30).
“I feel like we’re a better team than them,” San Jose State quarterback Josh Love said after the game. “But we obviously didn’t show that (on Saturday).”
PASS DEFENSE CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE: The Wolf Pack allowed Love and San Jose State to pile up 405 yards and three touchdowns through the air. It is the third game this season already that the Wolf Pack has allowed 400 or more yards in the air. Purdue passed for 423 against the Pack and Oregon had 402. Hawaii also passed for 373 yards and five touchdowns on the Pack.
The Wolf Pack has now allowed a Mountain West-worst 20 touchdown passes this year. The Pack is also 10th in the 12-team Mountain West in passing yards allowed each game at 297.
“We’re making strikes in the back end of the secondary,” Norvell said. “But we’re still not where we want to be.”