Pack won’t change without Butler
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – The absence of outside linebacker Ezra Butler for Saturday’s season-opening football game at Nebraska is certainly a blow to Nevada, but it won’t change the way the Pack attacks the Huskers.
The Pack will still be attacking, but with different personnel, according to defensive coordinator Ken Wilson.
Senior Nick Fuhr (6-3, 245), redshirt freshman Kevin Basped (6-6, 235) and redshirt freshman Dontay Moch (6-1, 220) are the players most affected by Butler’s absence. The trio can stand up or put their hand on the ground and rush the passer.
“We have a unique defense,” said Wilson, Nevada’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. “It’s what (Tim) DeRuyter ran here last year and is now doing at Air Force.
“It’s a unique package. Most of the time we’re in a 3-4, but we can jump into a 4-3 (before the snap). Defensive end or outside linebacker, they do the same things.”
Who plays will depend on down and distance situations. Fuhr is the most stout of the trio, and is most likely to play in run situations. Basped and Moch are more athletic, and their forte is rushing the quarterback and dropping back into coverage.
“Nick gives us experience,” Wilson said. “He’s played in big games before. He’s played against Miami and Arizona State. He’s big and strong, and he can play over a big tight end.”
Fuhr is actually listed behind Jeremy Engstrom at the ‘SAM’ linebacker, but his experience and knowledge of the system allows him to do both spots. Fuhr actually came to Nevada as an inside linebacker.
Neither Moch or Basped have played a collegiate game yet, but both have unlimited potential, according to Nevada coaches. They have quickness that Fuhr doesn’t have.
“Kevin is a very athletic guy, and he’s getting better,” Wilson said. “Dontay is learning how to play football at the Division I level. He’s getting better and he’s real fast. We’ll use them in situations where they can be good players and help us the most.”
While the outside seems a bit unsettled because of Butler’s injury, Wilson is extremely happy with inside linebackers Josh Mauga Kevin Porter and Jerome Johnson. Mauga is a starter, while Johnson and Porter are waging a fierce battle for the other spot. Ryan Coulson, a redshirt freshman, also is making strides on the inside.
“They had great fall camps,” Wilson said. “We’re happy with our inside guys.”
HEY CALLAHAN, IT’S NEVADA NOT RENO
Nebraska coach Bill Callahan kept referring to the Wolf Pack as Reno and not Nevada during his Tuesday press conference.
Callahan was complementary in his remarks, but one would think he would know the name of the opponent his team was playing.
It is similar to what UNLV coach Mike Sanford does when referring to the Wolf Pack. Sanford calls Nevada “the team up North.”
MURILLO IMPRESSIVE FOR NU
Nebraska junior Armando Murillo, a JC transfer, is listed as the top left cornerback on the depth chart and will probably start against Nevada.
Murillo had 10 interceptions in his two-year career at Eastern Arizona Community College. Three of those picks came during his sophomore season when teams stayed away from him.
“He’s done a lot of great things,” Callahan said earlier this week. “His work ethic … he’s really progressed. His learning curve has accelerated through training camp.
“He sees the field continually better than when he first came here. He has more confidence.”
NO COMPARING OF QBs
Callahan refused to draw comparisons between Zac Taylor, the previous starter and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and ASU transfer Sam Keller, who will start at quarterback for the Cornhuskers on Saturday.
“Both are fine quarterbacks,” Callahan said. “This is Sam’s first game, so let’s see how it goes. I’m excited about Sam. I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Between 2003 and 2005, Keller threw for more than 3,000 yards for the Sun Devils. He played in 19 games, starting seven. He threw only nine interceptions in 264 attempts in 2005.