Rowe won’t have to look over shoulder
RENO – When head coach Chris Ault announced earlier this week that he was scrapping the two-quarterback system, it was music to Jeff Rowe’s ears.
“It gave me a little bit of confidence,” said Rowe, a redshirt sophomore, who has thrown for 1,132 yards this season. “It makes me want to back up his decision. It will be nice to know that I can make a couple of mistakes and I’ll get to play through it.”
Rowe has started all six games, but has yet to play a full game. He was pulled with big leads against Sacramento State and Buffalo, and was pulled for ineffective play in the other four contests. Rowe’s numbers aren’t bad, but he has made a few key mistakes physically and has missed some reads which has forced Ault to put him on the bench.
One of the biggest mistakes came when he threw an interception in the red zone against UNLV. A touchdown would have given Nevada a 10-point lead, and who knows
at 0-4 going into the game, UNLV might have folded its tent.
You can sense that Ault wants Rowe in the No. 1 spot. Rowe has the best physical tools of the three quarterbacks, including the strongest arm. His arm strength caught the eye of Hawai’i coach June Jones, according to Ault. And, the coach has all but ignored senior Andy Heiser, who started last season after Rowe was benched early in the year.
“I feel that way, too,” said Rowe, who admits that he had one eye looking over his shoulder after mistakes wondering if he’s going to get yanked if things start to go wrong. “It gives me confidence.”
Ault would like to see Rowe be mentally tougher, however.
“He’s got a gun,” Ault said. “He has to learn how to be more competitive, and not say it’s OK to throw an incomplete pass.”
Rowe knows that he may not have the full confidence of the team because of last season’s early problems and some of the problems this year. He knows that it will take a couple of good performances to turn things around.
GOLD ZONE WOES
When Chance Kretschmer fumbled at the Hawai’i 1-yard line, it was a microcosm of the entire season. The score would have cut the Hawai’i lead to 27-20, but things got out of hand after that fumble.
It was the same story against UNLV.
The Wolf Pack got the ball to the UNLV 15 on the game’s opening drive, but had to settle for the field goal. On the next drive, Rowe threw the aforementioned interception at the goal line, and UNLV tied the game at 3. Early in the second quarter, reserve QB Travis Moore was sacked on third down at the UNLV 12, forcing the Wolf Pack to settle for another field goal.
The Wolf Pack has shown the ability to move the ball between the 20s well, but either have to settle for field goals or turn the ball over. It frustrates Ault to no end.
Nevada has had to settle for six field goals inside the gold zone this year. Most NFL teams expect to score touchdowns 85 to 90 percent of the time inside the opponents’ 20, and Ault feels the same way.
“It’s frustrating,” Rowe said. “It’s little things our team does; things that we have to minimize. We have to take better advantage of our chances.”
George Yarno became the third different starting center of the season when he started ahead of Jimmy Wadhams last week against Hawai’i. Yarno is expected to start Saturday against Rice.
Thomas Stevens and Wadhams were the other two starters this year. Kyle Gosselin, who started nine games a year ago, was expected to be the starting center this year. Gosselin injured his foot in training camp and has missed the entire season.
THEY DON’T SHOOT BLANKS
Nevada ranks 11th in the country with 144 consecutive games without being shut out at the 1-A level. However if you count Nevada’s years as a 1-AA school, the streak is at 286 games. The last time Nevada failed to score in a game was Sept. 27, 1980 at Weber State when the Wolf Pack were a 1-AA team.
Nevada’s three injured defensive linemen – tackles Chris Barry (sprained ankle) and P.J. Hoeper (dislocated toe), and end Charles Wilson (broken ankle) took part in Wednesday’s workout, and it appears that all three will play against Rice.