Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat

A lot of sites are going with the Halloween theme. And why should PWtW overlook Oct 31st? Hell, we would gladly sell our souls to the devil if it meant a 4-0 finish and a bowl win.

Let's compare some WAC teams to some of our favorite (and not so favorite) Halloween movies:

Nevada Wolf Pack: Halloween

Not only our favorite, but also Michael Myers is bad ass (just like the Wolf Pack) and he keeps getting knocked down but keeps getting right back up (again just like the Pack, and it's fans too). Last year Boise must have felt like Laurie Strode the way Nevada kept coming back and coming back. This year it's time for little sister to go down for good.

Fresno State Bulldogs: Hellraiser

Fresno State is just like the cenobites of Hellraiser in so many ways. Demons to some (BCS opponents) Angels to others (WAC opponents). The cenobites bring the greatest pleasures and pains to their victims (just like the Bulldogs bring to their fans). The tag line is "He'll tear your soul apart" and we aren't sure if they're talking about the kicker or the quarterback or the rush defense when it comes to FSU. Note that we would have opted for attack of the killer Walrus Man in honor of Pat Hill, but no such movie exists that we could find.

San Jose State Spartans: Dead Silence

An old witch controlling some evil dummies? Sounds like the Spartans to us! And the thing is that as bad as it sounds, like the movie, the Spartans actually are not that bad. We still can't believe we blew that first half lead last year.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs: Swamp Thing

Do we really need to say anything more?

Boise State Broncos: Killer Clowns From Outerspace

What can we say? A group that seems like such a joke (blue and orange donkey as a mascot with blue grass planted in the middle of a potato field) yet somehow manage to withstand the test of time as a cult classic. Using silly means of weaponry like man eating popcorn and cotton candy cocoons, the killer clowns are just like BSU using silly trick plays like the fake field goal last year and the statue of liberty in the Fiesta Bowl to thwart their opponents time and time again. We think 2008 is as good a year as any to send these clowns back to the circus where they belong.

Question of the Week

Why is it that Nevada has been able to recover only 2 of it's 14 forced fumbles?

Well we think this actually isn't that difficult to answer. No it's not rotten luck, although often times it feels like it.

Nevada's defense in general this season has not "swarmed" to the football. There are a lot of times that the defensive front is penetrating up field past where the fumble may occur and the defensive secondary is spread out all over the field. Not a lot of gang tackling taking place this season. You have to have players (outside of the guy forcing the ball out) around the football in order for one of them to fall on it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Missing Defensive Players Impact Game

Josh Mauga, the senior captain of the defense was not in action Saturday night against Hawaii. Neither was Mike Bethea, the linebacker who has had a knack for being around the ball this year. And sometimes starter Ryan Coulson who changes in and out with Kevin Basped on the defensive front was also not present during the game.

Although the bulk of the problems were in the secondary, missing the two linebackers and the guy who spells our speed pass rusher were big against a team who threw the ball short time and time again.

We don't exactly remember seeing any press about these players being gone, but it must be the injury bug biting the Wolf Pack mid season. And the bug is biting the unit that can least afford to be bitten.

Maybe a bye week couldn't come at a better time for this unit. After the last one, the boys smashed the uglies down south. Lets hope they smash the other red uglies down south (and slightly to the west) after this one.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Making Amends....Or Not

After having 24 hours to think about the most recent let down out of this years Nevada football team, we stumbled upon this thought and we will use the Hawaii game as an example. For those of you fans who are trying to lay the blame of this loss and the New Mexico St loss on a particular unit (yes, we have been reading the comments of many Nevada fans and their thoughts on these games) please consider the following ideas for your consideration.

When a player or unit makes a mistake, what do they do to correct it? We doubt that any unit is going to be "perfect" all game. So lets look at what is done in regards to imperfections.

Offense: Had two early turn overs in the first half that resulted in two Hawaii scores. The unit then came back to score 14 points in the fourth quarter to make it a tie game with 1:30 left.

Colin Kaepernick: Had a fumble that was returned for a TD in the first quarter. He then ripped off a 60 yard TD run to make up for it as well as leading the team on two 70+ yard drives in crunch time.

Vai Tuau: Had a fumble when going in for a score that resulted in Hawaii scoring. He then ripped of an 80 yard TD run to make up for it and accounted for 160 yards rushing.

Marko Mitchell: Had a ball hit him right in the hands that would have resulted in a first down. He then made a great block on Vai's TD run and then a great play on a fourth down pass for a TD in the fourth quarter.

Chris Wellington: Dropped a sure 1st down that hit him right in the chest. He then caught the tying TD pass on a 34 yard post route with 1:30 left in the ball game.

Now here is where PWtW has an issue....

Defensive give up big play after big play. Where is the interception or pick six or corner blitz that results in a fumble or sack to make up for it? NEVER HAPPENS! Not in crunch time of critical games. Seems like the defensive front makes 90% of the big plays. Do you realize the offense got FOUR PLAYS IN THE ENTIRE THIRD QUARTER? You let Hawaii dink and dunk you for 5:39 and 3 points to start the quarter. The offense came out and tied it up on a one play drive. And then you let Hawaii score on a TD in 1:44 to take the lead right back. Oh I know, the special teams unit didn't help you by giving them the ball on the 50. We'll get to them in a few. Then the offense has a rare three and out and you respond by letting the Warriors take the next 7:01 off the quarter, go 80 yards, and score another TD at the start of the fourth. Is that your way of punishing them for not giving you a break? You could have came up with a big play last night on that last drive. No instead you let them march 80 yards down the field in a minute and not only score, but score a TD so it made it next to impossible for the offense to try and bail you out.

Special Teams (punt return team and kick coverage team specifically) gave the offense the following starting field positions (1, 2, 5, 14, 15, 20, 21, 23, 24, 27, 30, and 44 yard lines). That's THREE drives starting inside the FIVE YARD LINE. There was one return to the 44. Where is the kickoff return for TD? Where is the punt return for TD? This season? FAIR CATCH IT if you are that afraid of getting blasted. At least the ball doesn't bounce 10 yards. Meanwhile, Hawaii started out at the (20, 22, 23, 29, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 49, 50). Not one time inside the 20? EIGHT drives starting at the 35 or better? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

I'm sorry but for those fans of you blaming the offense for this or any other loss: SHAME ON YOU! This is a unit that is top 10 in the nation in numerous categories. They aren't always perfect, but they do a damn good job of making up for their mistakes when they do make them. Meanwhile our pass secondary is DEAD LAST IN THE COUNTRY. We start with poor field position and we give the opponent great field position. And we expect perfection out of the one group that is doing a great job in order to compensate for the weaknesses of the rest of the groups or we gripe and complain about them?

We also have a hard time accepting the "young unit" comments (excuses) that we hear. These are not 18 year old true freshman playing secondary for Nevada last time we checked. They should be able to turn and look for a ball. The sickening thing is that most of the time they are in position, they just don't look.

As for special teams, there is a reason this group hasn't returned a TD in 10 years on a kick off and in 7 years on a punt return. These units needs immediate attention. Up until just this year we didn't have a consistent punter and look at what a difference bringing in a guy on scholarship has made this year. Time to put starters and big hitters on the kick cover team. Do you really ever see anyone outside of McIntosh sacrifice to bust a wedge? We need some line backers and full backs running down field, not DB's.

This is a Nevada team that should be 6-2, bowl eligible, and contending for a WAC title. The offense and the defensive front is good enough to be so. It is truly sickening to watch any player with a right arm and a pulse throw the ball around on us like they are the second coming of Joe Montana to Jerry Rice.

There is still time for this team to right the ship. A bye week gives 13 days to fix problems best that can be and a 4-0 finish (or even a 3-1 finish) would be an improvement over last year. Time to drag yourselves out of the gutter and play with the heart of a winning football program.

Lets go coach Ault. Get these guys to believe and get these problems shored up. You have the players to beat the next four teams. Just go out and do it. Nothing to lose from here out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trouble in Paradise

What trouble you ask?

1. Is it Nevada's pass defense?

2. Is it Colin Kaepernick's mental state?

3. Is it Hawaii's QB situation?

4. Is it the trouble we are going to get into at a luau Friday night?

Well we are pretty sure that number two isn't a problem, number one is a little bit of a problem, and number three is only a problem if you are not a Wolf Pack fan. Number four could be a serious problem if jail time interferes with kickoff......

No the problem is that the last time the Wolf Pack won on the island was the last time they won a bowl game (see picture) and was not against the Rainbows.

It's time for a change. Last year at Mackay the Rainbows were undefeated late in the season and the Wolf Pack missed out on a golden opportunity. There were turnovers, poor play, poor clock management, poor all around decisions, and yet the Pack lost on a last second field goal. This year the Rainbows have lost all of their major offensive firepower. The defense has played solid at times, but the offense has played inconsistently (and not Nevada 40+ points a game inconsistent). The Rainbows came up with a big win over Fresno State (a big deal considering Fresno State is the best offense in the WAC with Touchdown Tommy and the best running back, Ryan Mathews, in their's that working for you? Oh, what? Nevada has TWO players ahead of Mathews in rushing yards, yards per carry, and touchdowns 7 games into the season and a QB with a higher rating, more yards passing, less picks, etc. Throw the ball over that mountain Uncle Rico)

Alright then, enough rant on Fresno's preseason arrogance.

The Rainbows may change QB this week, they aren't sure. Coach Greg McLovin talked about how Greg Alexander wasn't as mobile as Inoke Funaki so he would probably see some time. What? Oh yeah, that's right he's not as mobile so he must be a better passer. We like our chances.

Prediction: Nevada 41 Rainbows 17

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Odd Start Turns Into Big Homecoming Win

(photo by Patrick Cummings, RGJ)

After a heart breaking shoot out that went to the rAggies last week, the Nevada Wolf Pack was looking to bounce back in a big way against the bAggies this weekend. And to add to the excitement, it was homecoming week at Nevada (hey, there has to be a king and queen you know).

The pressure was on the defense to come out and perform, but it would soon shift to the usually high powered Nevada offense. Nevada's defense held USU to 3 and outs on 5 of the first 7 offensive possessions and didn't give up a score until late in second quarter when the bAggies recovered a Brian Fludd fumble inside the Nevada 40 yard line and capitalized on the turn over. The defense would total 5 sacks (2 for Moch), a fumble recovery, and interception for TD, and 9 tackles for loss.

The big story of the game however was on offense. Taking the field to start the game was quarterback Nick Graziano, not WAC offensive yardage leader Colin Kaepernick. This snapped a 14 consecutive games started streak for Kaep. After reading the quotes by the players and coaches (as well as some posts on Nevada's fan boards) it sounds like this was a decision that was made just seconds before the offense took the field. Apparently Kaepernick did something to irritate coach enough to bench him for the entire first quarter. Graziano would get four drives in that time and would lead the team to one score on a Vai Taua 26 yard scamper. The snap of PAT would be fumbled and the Pack would take a 6-0 lead. Unfortunately for Graziano two of the other drives would result in turnovers as Taua fumbled on the first drive and Kejon Murphy would make a nice play stepping in front of and intercepting a Graziano to McCoy out route.

Kaepernick would enter the game at 13:46 in the second quarter. Not wasting any time, he would make his intentions known at 13:38 when he crossed the goal line for his first score of the day on a 19 yard TD run.

A short while later, USU would get on the board after a short field situation due to the Fludd fumble.

The Nevada offense would then come alive, scoring on their next 3 possessions which would include a Mike McCoy rushing TD (his first score of the season), a Brett Jaekle field goal, and a big 75 yard bomb from Kaepernick to Mitchell to put the game at 30-7 Pack. And for those of you gamblers out there, thank the defense and Jared Silva-Purcell for a late pick six that pushed the game to a 44-17 victory, covering the spread for those who bet on the Wolf Pack.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just Plain Sad

What else is there to say? On a night that the Pack was finally back in Mackay for the first time in 30+ days, the Nevada Wolf Pack would score 45 points and lose! 49 would have been enough for a win and it's sad to think that is what it would take against a team like New Mexico State. No offense Raggies (that's short for Red Aggies), but you aren't Boise St or Fresno and we expect that if we have to score big to win a game it would be against one of them.

Early on there were some stupid penalties that prevented the Pack from potentially pulling away. And there were big plays that kept New Mexico in the game. Later on there were some stupid turn overs that prevented the Pack from gaining control of the lead. And there were more big plays and specifically big third down conversions that lead to the Aggies taking the lead and not letting go of it.

Now the Pack will have to put this game behind them and focus on the Baggies (and that's short of Blue Aggies) coming into Reno next weekend. Nevada should be in a better position for this game as Utah St doesn't have the type of passing attack that New Mexico had.

It's not to late to turn this around. A 9-3 season and a WAC championship would be a very nice season.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jaekle has special day.

(from official Nevada site)

Senior place kicker Brett Jaekle had a record breaking day on Saturday.

Just one week after beating little brother Ben in the annual Battle for the Fremont Cannon, Jaekle kicked his fourth PAT of the day to tie former Pack kicker Marty Zendejas. With his fifth converted attempt coming early in the fourth quarter, Brett became the Wolf Pack's all time leader in made PAT's with 170. He would add two more to push his numbers to 172 before the end of the game.

Now the question we all want to know is: Can Brett hit 200 before this season ends? We think he can!

Forty Niners?

No, not the pro football team located just a few hours away from Reno.

The Nevada Wolf Pack has put 49 points up on the board three times this year. All three were victories. The most recent of those was a 7 TD thumping of the Idaho Vandals at the Kibbie dome this past Saturday.

The game consisted of what is becoming the usual for this team: Colin Kaepernick accounted for 3 TD's. Vai Taua had the best day of the running backs and had his own 3 TD's. Marko Mitchell had a big play for a TD. The Union paved the way for 264 yards while not surrendering a sack. The Pack defensive front gave up a measly 24 yards on the ground and managed a few sacks. And the Pack secondary bent but didn't break and managed to pick off a pass in the second half.

Next week the Pack finally gets back to the friendly confines of Mackay Stadium to face the New Mexico State Aggies. New Mexico won it's game with Alcorn State and comes in with a 2-2 record.

We think another 49 points out of the offense will be just fine!