Pack prepares for New Mexico State |

Pack prepares for New Mexico State

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Nevada held the ball for nearly 40 minutes in last weekend’s 23-7 win over San Jose State, and coach Chris Ault said the Pack will have to be just as proficient Saturday (1 p.m.) against New Mexico State.

That’s because the Aggies, 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the Western Athletic Conference, possess one of the best throwing quarterbacks in the nation in sophomore Chase Holbrook, who averages 419 yards per game.

“They are one of the top throwing teams in the country,” Ault said Monday during the WAC teleconference. “They will move the ball. We have to keep things in front of us and not give up any big plays. Obviously we have to change up our coverages and defense.

“On offense, the key is being able to run the ball and keep their offense off the field. When you hold the ball for 40 minutes like we did, you should be in the 30s (points) at least.”

When Nevada played at Hawai’i back on Oct. 7, the defense gave up more than 500 yards, yet the team still had a chance to win at the end of the game. Ault obviously would like to do a better job defensively.

Ault compared the New Mexico State receivers comparably with the Hawai’i receivers.

New Mexico State has four of the top-10 receivers in the WAC: Chris Williams (52 reception for 851 yards and seven TDs), A.J. Harris (43-430, three TDs), Derek Dubois (36-505, five TDs) and Jeremiah Williams (32-242, two TDs). All four have good wheels, and Ault said the key is to eliminate yardage after the catch.

• Ault said that quarterback Jeff Rowe’s status remains the same.

Ault said that Rowe had been cleared to play last week, but the coach had questions about his mobility.

“Jeff obviously feels better,” Ault said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. We can’t afford to lose him for the rest of the season (by rushing him back). If he can’t move and do the play-action in the pistol offense, he won’t play.”

If Rowe can’t go, Travis Moore, who completed 20 of 28 passes against San Jose State, will get the starting call.

It would seem likely that redshirt freshman Nick Graziano might get more than a couple of snaps, too, if Rowe is sidelined. When Moore got banged up Saturday, Graziano came in for a couple of snaps.

“He (Graziano) is the real deal,” Ault said. “He’s a got a gun. He’s ready to play.”

Rowe is ranked 16th in the nation for lowest career interception percentage. He’s thrown 30 picks in 1,003 attempts.

• According to Ault, the status of safety Nick Hawthrone was being discussed on Monday.

Hawthrone, who missed Saturday’s game, was told by an advisor to drop a class, and that another would be added in its place. The advisor, apparently never added the class, leaving Hawthrone short of the 12 credits.

Nevada reported the infraction, and Hawthrone was declared ineligible.

Ault is hoping to have him back in uniform this weekend, especially against a wide-open attack like New Mexico’s coming to town.

• Tight end Adam Bishop is expected to miss several weeks with a hand injury, according to Ault.

It robs the Pack of a second tight end that can get upfield other than starter Anthony Pudewell. Travis Branzell, who usually plays tight end in short-yardage situations, is known more for his blocking.

Other tight ends on the roster are Jeremy Scott and Talaisai Puloka, who is a converted linebacker.