Pack notebook: Offense has been solid
Appeal Sports Writer
Through four non-conference football games, the reviews for the Nevada Wolf Pack offense have been favorable.
Nevada is averaging 30 points and 438 yards total offense en route to posting a 2-2 record, and save for a defensive breakdown late against Northwestern, the Pack would be 3-1.
“On offense, there has been a lot to cover,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said earlier this week. “There are different things we’re doing better this season. We are throwing the ball deep which we didn’t do last year. We’re having some success with that.”
Nevada has had scoring plays of 90, 49 and 52 yards in the last two games, wins over Nicholls State and UNLV. Tight end Adam Bishop also had a 56-yard catch.
Ault said as the coaching staff discovers more about the (pistol) offensive system, it’s not about what the defense is doing, it’s a matter of the what the offense is doing in terms of execution.
After scoring 100 points in the last three games, the offense seems to be executing well, especially sophomore quarterback Nick Graziano, who has an efficiency rating of more than 140. Graziano has completed 50.8 percent of his passes for 1,012 yards and 10 scores.
“He’s doing well,” Ault said. “I’m pleased with him. He didn’t play as well as we’d hoped against UNLV. He had some simple mistakes. He’ll continue to get better.”
“The game has slowed down,” Graziano said. “I’m seeing things clearer. We’re still not where we want to be. There is a lot of football still to be played. Everybody still has some things to work on.”
At this point, the offense is certainly ahead of the defense.
“We’re inconsistent still,” nose tackle Matt Hines said. “We still have a lot of things to work on.”
One of those is being able to get off the field on third and fourth down. UNLV converted on 6 of 17 third-down attempts and 2 of 3 fourth-down attempts. The success on fourth down came on UNLV’s next-to-last drive when it tied the game at 20. Twice the Rebels converted a fourth-down play, including the game-tying touchdown.
There will be a mini McQueen renewal when Nevada and Fresno State meet up on Saturday.
Nevada’s starting guard Charles Manu and Fresno State nose tackle Charles Tolbert and kicker Clint Stitser all played big roles in the McQueen Lancers’ dominance during their high school careers, compiling a 40-2 record.
In fact, Manu and Tolbert, figure to bang heads a lot this weekend.
Two other former Reno prep stars will come to town for the Bulldogs – offensive tackle Bobby Lepori, who went to Bishop Manogue, and linebacker Ryan McKinley, formerly of Reno High.
NEVADA TRAILS IN TO RATIO
Often times, a team’s success is judged on its takeaway to turnover ratio. Normally, if a team is losing, it has turned the ball over more than it has taken it away. If a team is winning, it’s often because the defense is forcing turnovers.
Despite its .500 record, the Wolf Pack is on the losing end of the turnover-takeaway ratio.
Through four games, Nevada has turned the ball over seven times (6 interceptions and a fumble) and taken it away just three times (2 interceptions and a fumble) for a minus-4.
Nevada safety Mike Samples and cornerback Jon Amaya each have an interception thus far and linebacker Dontay Mooch has a fumble recovery.
One thing you have to love about Fresno State coach Pat Hill is that he doesn’t make excuses.
Hill lost two starting linemen – guard Cole Popovich (leg) and guard Adam McDowell (shoulder) – to injuries in the overtime loss to Texas A & M.
Andrew Jackson started at right guard against Oregon and Pierce Masse started at left guard.
For the Nevada game, Joe Bernardi has been inserted at center and Ryan Wendell moves from center to left guard. Wendell started his Fresno State career as a guard.
“We just need to play better,” Hill said. “That’s our (coaches) job.”