Pratt, Walker outsized but not worried
Pratt, Walker outsized but not worried
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada cornerbacks Paul Pratt and Devon Walker will be plenty busy come Saturday.
The Nevada duo will go up against talented New Mexico wide receivers Travis Brown and Marcus Smith when the Pack goes up against the Lobos in the second annual New Mexico Bowl, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at University Stadium, in Albuquerque.
Brown, a two-time first-team all-Mountain West Conference selection, hauled in 69 passes for 911 yards and five touchdowns. Teaming with the 6-foot-3 Brown is the 6-2 Smith, also a senior. Smith had 86 catches for 1,039 yards and three TDs.
That sounds like a handful for the 5-foot-10 Pratt and the 6-foot Walker.
“Their receivers are pretty good,” Pratt said before Monday’s practice. “They remind me of Boise State and San Diego State receivers from a couple of years ago. They run good routes and catch everything.
“They run a lot of slants. We have to be on their receivers. They run a lot of three-step – quick stuff. This is a bowl game. They go vertical, too. We’ve got to be ready for anything.”
Both receivers will have at least a four-inch height advantage over Pratt.
“They think they are going to be able to push me around,” Pratt said. “They are not going to push me around.”
BOWL WEEK IS NORMAL
Bowl week is turning out to be just like any other week for the Nevada football team because of the team’s experience and the fact that the Pack is playing a school in its home stadium.
Nevada has 13 players who will be participating in their third straight bowl game, and that has helped make preparation much easier.
Those players are: safety Uche Anyanwu, tight end Adam Bishop, linebacker Ezra Butler, linebacker Jeremy Engstrom, defensive end Nick Fuhr, center Dominic Green, nose tackle Matt Hines, kicker Brett Jaekle, offensive tackle Charles Manu, linebacker Josh Mauga, wide receiver Mike McCoy, wide receiver Andy McIntosh and cornerback Shannon Sevor.
The Pack has mixed practice with finals this week. The players had Sunday off and practiced Monday and Tuesday, though some players missed parts of practice because of exams.
The team is scheduled to leave Reno on a charter Wednesday at 7 a.m. There are practices slated for Thursday and Friday, though the Friday workout is merely a walkthrough.
“There are a few activities planned,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “They (the players) will get to meet a lot of different people. They have something for the kids to do every day they are there. It’s a real nice package.”
There will be a chili cook-off competition between the teams on Wednesday night at a local eatery with a bowling competition slated for Thursday night.
Nevada guard Charles Manu has been named to play in the annual East-West Shrine Game.
Manu’s father told reporters at Monday’s practice that his son had been informed over the weekend. He is the second Pack player to be selected for this year’s game. Linebacker Ezra Butler announced last week that he’d accepted an invitation for the prestigious game.
Kickoff for the New Mexico Bowl is at 2:30 p.m. (local time), but fans who arrive early will be in for a treat.
The Acoma Sky City Fan Fest run from 10 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. Live music, food and plenty of giveaways are scheduled along with a giant slide, a bouncehouse and obstacle course for kids.
“I’m excited about what’s been done with the fan fest,” said Jeff Siembieda, the executive director for the New Mexico Bowl. “I really like what the people at Acoma Sky City and our staff have turned this event into. The variety of activities and giveaways is going to make this quite special.”
Nevada guard Brandon Fields has been named Western Athletic Conference player of the week for the week of Dec. 10-16.
It is the first WAC POW for the sophomore, who hails from Arlington, Texas.
He averaged 19.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks in Nevada’s wins over San Diego and Central Florida last week.
Fields scored a career-best 17 points against San Diego on Wednesday before bettering that mark with 22 against UCF, a game in which he matched his career high with four 3-pointers.
He is leading the Pack in three-point shooting, connecting on 19-of-40 from beyond the arc (47.5 percent).