Pack offense comes to life in final scrimmage
April 22, 2012
RENO – The Nevada Wolf Pack’s pistol offense is alive and well.
“The offense played real well,” head coach Chris Ault said after the Wolf Pack’s annual Silver and Blue Spring Game Saturday morning at Mackay Stadium. “All three quarterbacks did a real nice job in all phases.”
The offense won the 86-play scrimmage, 43-26.
“Defensively, we weren’t ready,” Ault said. “We didn’t play well.”
The passing offense shredded the defense, completing 28-of-32 passes for 233 yards. Starting quarterback Cody Fajardo was 19-of-22 for 155 yards, Tanner Roderick was 5-of-6 for 61 yards and Devin Combs completed all four of his passes for 17 yards.
Fajardo, the unquestioned starter for the season opener at California on Sept. 1, completed his first 12 passes. He was 7-of-7 on the opening drive for 63 yards. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Nick Hale.
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“I was pretty happy with our performance on offense,” Fajardo said. “There were a lot of positives to come out of this.”
The offense scored two touchdowns – a pair of 1-yard runs by Hale and Kendall Brock – and two field goals (28 yards by Allen Hardison and 30 yards by Anthony Martinez).
“We didn’t do a good job in the red zone so that’s something we still have to fix,” Fajardo said. “You have to have heart down there in the red zone and we have to get better at that.”
Linebacker Albert Rosette stopped Combs on a 4th-and-goal run from the 1-yard line and running back Tony Knight was stopped a yard short of the end zone on a fourth- down run from the 2. A Roderick pass from the 11-yard line also was intercepted by Jeremiah Green.
“The offense came out and did their thing,” said running back Stefphon Jefferson, who had 26 yards on nine carries.
Knight stood out among the running backs, running for 63 yards on 10 carries. The first three times he touched the ball the red-shirt freshman went for nine, 17 and eight yards, leading to Martinez’s 30-yard field goal. He also had a 15-yard run on the final drive of the scrimmage down to the 8-yard line.
“I just wanted to show people that I can run hard and run downhill all the time,” said Knight, who has been criticized by Ault this spring for not running with enough intensity. “I want to prove people wrong and to prove myself right.”
Tight end Zach Sudfeld, who broke his leg in the season opener last season at Oregon, had an outstanding spring game, catching nine passes for 118 yards. The 6-foot-7 senior had five catches of 10 yards or more, including a 42-yarder when he ran over two defenders down the sideline.
“Sud is going to be a force,” Ault said.
“Today I felt real good, real healthy,” Sudfeld said. “Today was a real good first step for us and we still have a lot of things to work on. But there’s a long summer ahead of us before we get back out here.”
The defense also had its highlight moments.
Defensive end Reggie Coates stopped Jefferson for no gain on a 3rd-and-1 run, linebacker Bryan Lane sacked Fajardo for a 7-yard loss, Rosette kept Combs out of the end zone on a quarterback run from the 1-yard line, Green picked off a Roderick pass and linebacker DeAndre Boughton sacked Roderick for a 3-yard loss.
The defense also kept the offense out of the end zone on seven of nine drives. And one of the touchdowns – Brock’s 1-yard run – seem to come after a late whistle when it appeared that Knight was originally stopped on the play.
Boughton and linebacker Jon McNeal each had a team-high nine tackles.
“The defense did a nice job down near the goal line,” Ault said. “They didn’t back off, which was good to see.”
Ault, though, wanted to see more from his defense.
“It always worried me when we don’t play well on defense,” Ault said.
The Pack head coach, though, tempered his criticism of the defense.
“We were shuffling more personnel in and out on defense,” Ault said. “We were trying different things on defense, so that’s part of it.”