Swagger has returned to Mackay Pack fans | NevadaAppeal.com

Swagger has returned to Mackay Pack fans

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

It’s the early 1990s all over again at Mackay Stadium. So put away that wireless internet and turn off that I-Pod. You want to listen to music or check college football scores on a Saturday afternoon? Turn on your radio like everybody else, buddy. The grass might be plastic, the dirt has been placed by shredded bits of rubber and they don’t have to play in the dark after 5 p.m. anymore. And, oh yeah, there’s not a parking place to be found on campus anymore. But most everything else is the same as it was in the early 1990s at Mackay Stadium these days. The Pack beats UNLV every year and wins most every game at home. What else do you need? Yes, Pack fans, it’s OK to walk into Mackay with that 1990s swagger once again.

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You have to love what we’re seeing out of Pack quarterback Nick Graziano. The kid – he is just a sophomore, remember – has shown an incredible ability to make big plays. That 43-yard picture-perfect pass to Kyle Sammons to beat UNLV with 27 seconds to play will go down in Pack history.

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The most impressive thing about Graziano, though, is not his strong arm or nimble feet. It is his ability to shrug off a bad pass or a bad quarter and still go out and lead his team. Graziano hasn’t always been pretty – he is just a sophomore, remember – but he has shown amazing maturity for someone so young. The easiest thing for a quarterback – especially a 19-year-old quarterback – is to hang his head after getting intercepted or tossing a pass into the turf or third row of the stands. But Graziano seems to have already learned the toughest lesson all young quarterbacks must learn – that the play you are calling in the huddle and not the play just completed is the single most important play in the world.

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It’s difficult to separate the Wolf Pack and Fresno State. The two teams are the best in the Western Athletic Conference against the pass and the worst against the run. Both have allowed just seven sacks all year. The difference in Saturday’s game has to be Mackay Stadium. Bring the swagger, Pack fans. The Pack has won 17 of its last 20 games at home and Fresno has lost three in a row on the road. Nevada 28, Fresno State 24.

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The misery that is San Francisco sports continues. The Giants just finished as one of the worst teams in major league baseball and now the 49ers are starting Trent Dilfer at quarterback. And, oh yeah, the Oakland Raiders are winning. Hey, cheer up, San Francisco fans. At least you don’t have to pretend that you like Barry Bonds anymore.

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Say what you want about Al Davis. But the man sure knows how to find young coaching talent. The guy hired a wet-behind-the-ears John Madden, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden as head coaches. And now he has Lane Kiffin. Davis’ only coaching mistakes have come when he hired retreads like Joe Bugel, Art Shell and Norv Turner. Here’s hoping Davis sticks around long enough to see Kiffin get the Raiders back to the Super Bowl in a couple years.

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A couple years? Heck, why not this year? OK, two reasons. The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. But there is no reason why the Raiders, who could be 4-0 right now, can’t win the overrated AFC West and make the playoffs.

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Matt Leinart needs to keep quiet. The Arizona Cardinals quarterback is upset because coach Ken Whisenhunt has benched him in favor of veteran Kurt Warner. Give Whisenhunt a lot of credit. A lot of rookie head coaches wouldn’t have had the guts to bench their prima donna pretty boy quarterback so early in the season. But Whisenhunt refuses to buy into the notion that head coaches have to go down with the sinking ship along with their high-priced quarterback. Don’t be surprised to see the Cardinals in the playoffs this January.

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Brian Griese sure turned in an amazing Rex Grossman impression last week, didn’t he? If the Chicago Bears don’t beat Green Bay this week – and they won’t – their season is over. It’s tough to win in the NFL when half of your starting defense is wearing Nike warm-ups on the sideline and your best offensive player returns kicks.

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Why didn’t Bruce Bochy receive much criticism for the San Francisco Giants’ 71-win season? Is it because everyone felt sorry for him because he had to deal with the Bonds’ circus? If Felipe Alou was still the manager, he would have been run out of town faster than Pedro Feliz swings at an 0-2 pitch in the dirt.

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You can bet that Tom Glavine will never wear a New York Mets uniform again. Mets fans and the New York media will never let him forget what he did on Sunday. Expect Glavine to return to the Atlanta Braves or retire.

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All you need to know about the difference between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees was summed up this week when the Mets gave manager Willie Randolph a vote of confidence. Randolph led the Mets to one of the biggest chokes in baseball history and he gets to keep his job. Can you imagine what would have happened to Joe Torre at the other end of town if the Yankees would have choked so badly? George Steinbrenner would have fired Torre in about the sixth inning of the final game.

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Matt Holliday was clearly out at the plate on Monday. The Colorado Rockies outfielder never touched the plate. The San Diego Padres got robbed. But does that mean that baseball needs instant replay? Absolutely not. Baseball history is littered with teams that got robbed in postseason play by bad umpire calls. So what? The NFL has instant replay and they still miss a ton of calls. All instant replay will do to baseball is make a slow game even slower.

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We have to applaud major league baseball for making sure that more than one divisional playoff game isn’t going on at the same time. TBS is a strange choice for a network, but anything that allows us to watch all of the playoff games on TV, one right after the other, is a good thing. Isn’t it amazing what a little effort in scheduling can do?

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Ricky Williams has applied for reinstatement to the NFL. Somehow someway you just know the guy is going to be wearing a Raiders uniform before too long.