Wolf Pack notebook: Boise State on Pack’s 2011 schedule
For the Nevada Appeal
The Nevada Wolf Pack just couldn’t stay away from Boise State.
Wolf Pack athletic director Cary Groth announced Monday that the Pack will play a non-conference football game on Oct. 1 next season at Boise State against the Broncos. Boise State is leaving the Western Athletic Conference after this season to join the Mountain West Conference. The Wolf Pack will not join the Mountain West until the 2012 season.
“It’s important to continue this series because we have enjoyed a long history of competition with Boise State,” Groth said in a prepared statement. “The addition of Boise State creates an attractive and competitive schedule for 2011.”
Wolf Pack football coach Chris Ault, though, said the schedule was already attractive and competitive enough without the nationally-ranked Broncos. In addition to playing at Boise, the Pack is playing at Oregon (Sept. 1) and at Texas Tech (Sept. 24) during its five-game non-league schedule in 2011. UNLV and New Mexico come to Mackay Stadium to fill out the Pack’s non-WAC schedule next year.
“I was shocked to hear that,” said Ault of the announcement of the addition of Boise to the schedule in 2011. “The first I heard of it was (Monday morning). I just thought we were going to replace Boise next year with a home game. I just assumed we would. I didn’t think twice about it.”
The Pack, which hosts Boise State on Nov. 26 this season, originally was going to play at Boise in 2012, according to the WAC schedule. Boise’s move to the Mountain West, Ault said, gave the Pack an opportunity to add an important home game.
“We’re already playing Oregon on the road,” Ault said. “We’re already going to Texas Tech. Why do we need another road game like Boise?”
The Wolf Pack will play 12 games next season, six at home and six on the road. In addition to the three road games and two home games in the non-league schedule, the Pack will play WAC games at San Jose State, New Mexico State and Utah State and host Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, Idaho and Fresno State.
“Non-conference scheduling is very important,” Ault said. “I would have hoped people would have looked at what we did this year and learned from that.”
The Pack opened the season this year with three victories in home games against Eastern Washington, Colorado State and California, setting the tone for a season that is currently at 7-1 with the team ranked No. 23 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
“Why go on the road when you don’t have to?” Ault said.
The Wolf Pack’s future non-conference schedules include games at Washington in 2012, at UCLA in 2013, at Arizona in 2014 and at New Mexico and UCLA in 2015. Oregon comes to Mackay Stadium in 2013.
FRESNO STATE GAME TIME CHANGED: The Wolf Pack’s game at Fresno State on Nov. 13 has been changed to a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The game, which was originally scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., was moved to a half hour later because it was picked up by ESPN.
A decision on whether the game will be televised by ESPN or ESPNU will be made later this week.
TAUA READY TO PLAY: Pack running back Vai Taua, who sat out Saturday’s 56-42 victory over Utah State because of an ankle injury suffered two weeks ago at Hawaii, says he is ready to play on Saturday at Idaho.
“I feel good,” Taua said. “It’s about 100 percent.”
When he steps onto the field at Idaho, it will be 21 days since he last played in a game.
“The anxiety is building up,” he smiled.
Taua said sitting out last week was difficult.
“I could have played but the coaches didn’t want to take a chance,” he said. “It’s hard to just sit back and watch.”
HALE LIVING OUT A DREAM: Backup running back Nick Hale was still smiling Monday afternoon when asked to describe his first college touchdown during Saturday’s victory.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Hale, who caught a 20-yard pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick to give the Pack a 49-14 lead in the third quarter. “It was pretty much a dream come true.”
Hale, who had one career carry entering the game, ran the ball four times for 15 yards and hauled in the one pass.
“I’ve just been practicing hard every week waiting for my opportunity,” the 5-foot-11 sophomore said. “That’s all I can do, just make sure I’m ready.”
Hale said he will never forget last Saturday night.
“It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life,” he said.