Taking a Chance on a new role
RENO – Chance Kretschmer is used to being the go-to guy in the Nevada backfield.
The Wolf Pack senior underwent knee surgery in August, and is slowly rounding into shape. The surgery enabled both red shirt freshman Drew Robinson and junior B.J. Mitchell to move up on the depth chart. It’s a three-man rotation now, and Kretschmer doesn’t seem to mind a somewhat smaller role for now.
All three running backs played big roles in Nevada’s 59-7 thrashing of Sacramento State Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
Robinson carried 12 times for 106 yards and a score, and Kretschmer added 102 on 14 attempts. Mitchell gained 83 yards and scored once. It was Kretschmer 14th career game of 100 yards or more.
“I think it’s great,” Kretschmer said when asked about the rotation used by head coach Chris Ault. “We’ve got three great backs and anyone at any time can be a game breaker. It relieves me. The pressure is off me because they can go in and do just as well as I can.”
Kretschmer said he’s really close to being 100 percent healthy. He said both his knee and shoulder hurt, and he got dinged on the thigh during the game.
FAST START FOR SPENCER
Sophomore wide receiver Caleb Spencer is off to a fast start for Nevada, catching seven passes in each of the first two games. He’s also caught a TD pass in each game.
“Coach Ault said my spot (F) would get a lot of balls, and he’s right,” Spencer said. “I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done. It’s given me a chance to make a difference.”
Spencer had a hand in two of Nevada’s three scoring drives late in the second quarter.
He caught a 16-yarder for a first down at the Hornets 10, setting up Jeff Rowe’s 4-yard scoring pass to Tony Moll. On the Wolf Pack’s last scoring drive of the half, Spencer caught a 20-yarder on the first play of the series, and then capped the drive with a 6-yard TD catch.
NEW STARTERS SHINE
Strong safety Shannon Sevor and defensive end Charles Wilson played well in their starting debuts.
Sevor, who started in place of Nick Hawthrone, finished with five tackles, two solo and three assisted. Wilson, who started in place of J.J. Milan, finished with three tackles for minus-6 yards. One of his tackles was a sack of Ryan Leadingham late in the first quarter.
“I can’t tell much without looking at tape,” Ault said. “I thought they played consistent.”
According to Ault, Hawthrone didn’t play because he got his ankle stepped on during practice late in the week. He’s expected back for the Buffalo game on Saturday.
HAPPY TO BE BACK
Sac State quarterback Ryan Leadingham played for the first time since breaking three bones in his left wrist and one in the arm against UC Davis last October. He was 9-for-13 passing for 78 yards.
“I’m where I want to be no matter what,” Leadingham said. “I felt good until the game ended and we were losing by 50.”
Leadingham was sacked five times, but refused to place any of the blame on his offensive line.
“They did a lot of things that surprised us,” he said. “They ran some little blitzes. That’s where the pressure was coming from. They (the line) gave me time. I have to make plays.”
The Wolf Pack did their pre-game drills at nearby Wolf Pack Park instead of Mackay Stadium. The team didn’t take the field until about 10 minutes prior to kickoff.
“There were business things we had to take care of,” Ault said. “There were other practice things we wanted to take care of. There were no secrets to it. You could have come out to watch. We got after it a little bit.”
NICE WORK STALLINGS
Roderick Stallings earned kudos from Ault when he blocked a punt early in the fourth quarter, setting up Robinson’s 25-yard scoring run two plays later.
“I’m tickled pink to see us block a punt,” Ault said. “We’ve worked hard on that since the first day of practice.”
Talib Wise suffered a mild shoulder sprain. Ault said he expects the wide receiver-running back to return next week. Kyle Eklund missed the game with a broken collarbone that will keep him out until well into the conference season.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Ault is now 18-2 in home openers, losing only in 1981 and 1982… The 59 points were the most since Nevada beat Cal Poly 63-0 on Nov. 14, 1998… Nevada is 4-2 on this date, losing 38-33 to Colorado in 1999… Linebackers Scott Garrison and Jeremy Engstrom played solid games, registering five and four tackles, respectively. Garrison had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage… Kicker Damon Fine is off to an 11-for-11 start on extra points this season… Ault’s win was his first since November 18, 1995. He is now 164-64-1.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281.