Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nevada's Mr. 3,000 (And Other Musings)

Touchdowns racked up. Records -- both Wolf Pack and NCAA -- rewritten. Countless defenders trampled over, bamboozled and generally frustrated. These are the present legacies of one Colin Kaepernick, which were further augmented on Saturday night by his admission into the 3,000-Yard Passing and 3,000-Yard Rushing Club. At the collegiate level, at least, he now stands in very exclusive company: Vince Young at Texas, Pat White at West Virginia, Brad Smith at Missouri and Antwaan Randle El at Indiana, among four others. He's also tantalizingly close to a couple of other elite NCAA marks.

And yet, for all of those records, he still has plenty of unfinished business here at Nevada. As much as Renoites love him, he still hasn't won a bowl game or beaten a BCS-conference team. Football is a team sport, and knowing the humility, class and grace Kaepernick has displayed in his time here, he'd be one of the first to tell you that individual records don't mean much in team sports unless you win some big games.

But what we also know is that even if his career were to end tomorrow, he would still go down in history as without a doubt one of the greatest players to ever sport the silver and blue, and arguably the best since the program's move to the WAC. The team has greatly benefited from the stability and leadership he has brought them over the last three years, and it's easy to take that continuity for granted when many other teams have undergone tremendous upheaval and change over the same time period. There are five home games left in 2010 -- five more chances to see this young man in action before he leaves Reno for much bigger things.

And with that not-at-all sappy segue, what can you say about an experience like Saturday's? The offense having its way for the entire night. The defense putting a steel curtain in front of the end zones. Special teams playing (dare we say it?) special. Perfect weather. Another fun (if totally under-reported) crowd. Even a great halftime salute to America's armed forces for continuity's sake. Damn it feels good to be a Pack fan!

But even in the wake of a win as satisfying as that one, it's our duty here at Pee-Dub-Tee-Dub to frame things in an impartial light, even if that light totally harshes our buzz. The fact is that Colorado State is not a good team right now. Not good at all, in fact. The team this blogger honestly thought could give Nevada a real scare under better circumstances was nowhere to be found on Saturday. Instead, what I saw was a team that would struggle to finish higher than 7th in the WAC, but even San Jose State and New Mexico State have at least found the end zone this far into the year. For the sake of building more momentum and exorcising whatever demons remained from the Maulin' in Fort Collins, it was a great win. But it was also against sub-par competition, and time spent celebrating it -- particularly with what lies ahead in the next two weeks -- is time wasted.

Speaking of poor competition, that seems to be one of the themes heading into Friday night's clash. In spite of being able to play Six Degrees of Separation between their first opponents, Cal and Nevada still don't really know where they stand in Week 3. They opened their seasons at home against western FCS teams, followed by other home games against Rocky Mountain Pillow Fight -- er, "Showdown" -- participants Colorado and CSU. This week's tilt is the biggest challenge of the year thus far for both teams, and will be a true bellwether game in every sense of the term.

In my next entry, I'll take a closer look at those Bears and maybe try to figure out why anyone would saddle their child with a name like "Clancy Pendergast."

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