Offensive line has done the hard work for Nevada
RENO ” Remember the numbers 38 and 518. Those are two key numbers to put in your memory banks if you are a Nevada football fan.
Through six games (3-3 record), Nevada’s football team is averaging 38 points a game and 518 yards of total offense. Impressive numbers to be sure. In its last three games, the Nevada offense has averaged 44 points, scoring 49 in wins over UNLV and Idaho and 45 in a loss to New Mexico State.
Most of the accolades have gone to quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua, and both have been impressive to say the least.
Taua has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in two of his last three games, including a career-high 188 yards and a career-high four TDs last week in a loss to New Mexico State. Kaepernick has thrown for nine TDs and rushed for nine TDs thus far and has been sensational running and throwing the ball. He’s accounted for more than 1,600 yards total offense.
While those numbers are great, neither player would be as effective if it weren’t for the Pack’s stellar offensive line of Dominic Green, Greg Hall, John Bender, Mike Gallett and Alonzo Durham. Brad Eskew, Josh Catapano and Kenny Ackerman have also made valuable contributions off the bench.
“They do all the hard work,” Taua said after a recent game. “I just run.”
Green smiled when told of Taua’s remark. He was just as quick to throw accolades back at his teammate.
“What he does isn’t easy,” Green said. “He’s got to recognize where the hole is going to be, to the right or left, and get through it. He’s running very hard; all our backs are running well.
“I’ve played with some good running backs B.J. Mitchell, Luke (Lippincott) and Robert Hubbard. These guys (we have now) are right up there.”
Green agreed that the offensive line has been on an impressive run.
“I would say so,” Green said. “We have a really good offensive line. It’s amazing how we’ve jelled. The guys have really worked and paid attention to detail.
“Coach (Chris) Klenakis is a great coach. He gets you prepared week in and week out, day in and day out and game in and game out.”
While he is pleased with the effort of his group thus far, the only thing Klenakis, who is also the Pack’s offensive coordinator, is focused on is improvement.
“There is a lot of football to be played,” Klenakis said. “What I emphasize is that we continue to get better. That’s what I preach.”
Klenakis doesn’t like to single out players. It’s not his style.
“It’s a unit and we play as a unit,” Klenakis said. “Each guy is pulling his own weight.”
The unit has managed to keep penalties down to the bare minimum. Taua did have a TD run called back, but Nevada scored on the drive anyway.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate,” Klenakis said. “You can’t have them. That’s why we work so hard on technique here.”
Klenakis’ group did take a hit, however. Hall, a fifth-year senior, injured his knee and may be lost for the season.
Ackerman, Eskew and Clayton Johnson appear to be the top candidates to step in, according to Klenakis.
“Kenny came in and played the last two quarters,” Klenakis said. “He stepped right in and we kept going. We didn’t change anything. Kenny has played before, and he’s a competitive kid.
“Eskew has played there. Clayton (Johnson) backs up Gallett at tackle, and Gallett has played extremely well the past two games.”
One of the things that Klenakis does is that he tries to put the best five guys out there, and that all the linemen are taught to play all the positions across the line.
Green has confidence in the back-ups, but he knows that the Pack has lost a valuable player.
“You can’t replace Greg Hall,” Green said. “He’s been here as long as I have. We jelled together. Everybody looks up to him.”
Hall and Green have been the rocks; the constants on this offensive line for the last four years. Hall has probably been the most consistent of the group, and he’s one of the strongest lineman on the squad.
Green likes the depth on the line, and he feels the Pack offense will do just fine.