Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Filler #12: Idaho

Twelve weeks ago I decided to do a brief 2010 summary and preview of each of the teams Nevada will face in 2011. Now I find myself at the end of that journey and wondering just what the hell I'm going to blog about until fall practices start (take a drinking game sip for that one!). It's been a great ride, and if I had to summarize it all in one word, I would say it was "lugubrious" (I have no idea what that actually means -- I just like how it sounds).

So go ahead and have some cake whilst I rummage through some old ideas I scribbled down somewhere a while back. Oh, and you might as well read this Idaho preview while you're here.

Idaho Vandals

The Vandals didn't play in a bowl game last year after playing in one the year before. It's not much different than what they're traditionally used to, but they at least came close to bowl eligibility this time as opposed to completely stinking up the place from the get-go. The question on everyone's mind ("everyone" meaning "three people" in this case) is aside from a head coach who apparently can't count, what else does Idaho have going for them heading into 2011?


Scoring: 26.6 points per game (t-60th)
Rushing: 89.9 yards per game (118th)
Passing: 296.9 yards per game (10th)
Total: 386.8 yards per game (55th)
1st Downs: 20.0 per game (t-56th)
3rd Down Conversions: 43.4% (t-39th)
Red Zone Conversions: 81.3% (t-67th)


Scoring: 28.3 points per game (t-70th)
Rushing: 188.9 yards per game (t-95th)
Passing: 231.4 yards per game (87th)
Total: 420.3 yards per game (95th)
Sacks: 31.0 (t-28th)
Tackles for Loss: 88.0 (t-21st)
Turnover Margin: +2 (t-45th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 21 (t-10th)
Kickoff Returns: 22.8 yards per return (t-36th)
Punts: 44.4 yards per punt (11th)
Punt Returns: 3.7 yards per return (112th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 4 - Number of head coaching hires the Vandals made in the eleven years between their last two bowl appearances (Tom Cable, Nick Holt, Dennis Erickson and Robb Akey); 126 and 10 - The Vandals' 2010 team high for rushing yards in a single game, and the number of times a Nevada player surpassed that mark last year, respectively; 34.7 - Average margin of defeat in each of Idaho's six losses to Nevada since they joined the WAC in 2005.

If you need any proof as to why NFL-caliber talent doesn't always translate to college success, look no further than Idaho and Nevada. Each team had three players selected in the 2010 draft: Shiloh Keo, Nathan Enderle and Daniel Hardy for the Vandals, and Colin Kaepernick, Dontay Moch and Virgil Green for the Pack. Nevada finished 13-1 and ranked in the top fifteen of all major polls, while Idaho...did not.

I've said before that the job Robb Akey has done to bring Idaho football up to its current level is commendable and one of the most underrated examples of building up a program you'll find anywhere. Taking a team whose previous three head coaches had gone 20-55 from 2000 to 2006 and raising expectations to a level where a 6-7 season is considered a disappointment ain't easy. But with all of that said, considering who the Vandals lose off of last year's team and the bleak future they face in the new WAC after this season, they could be in for another prolonged bumpy ride not unlike their brief stint in the Sun Belt.

Look no further than who they lose on offense to see this for yourselves: two starters on the O-line, Hardy, running back Deonte Jackson, Enderle and receivers Eric Greenwood and Maurice Shaw. The situation is marginally better on defense, with the not inconsiderable productivity of Keo and end Aaron Lavarias the only major losses. When your kicker (Trey Farquhar) and punter (Bobby Cowan) are the best returning players of note, and the best remaining players on the rest of the team are Justin Veltung and Robert Siavii, 5-7 is probably the most optimistic you can be for 2011.

So that was the Summer Filler series. I hope I can look back on these in December and not find too many mistakes I made. But it is my blog, after all, so the "Edit" button is always an option, and you'd never be the wiser if I went that route. You'll see me again on Friday when I start a unit-by-unit look at what the Pack will be up against this season.

Friday, June 24, 2011

PWtW Says Goodbye (But Not Really) to Boise State

It's true, folks. By this time next week, Boise State will be an official member of the Mountain West and the R.M.S. Benson will be right on time for its date with that iceberg we've all seen coming. But while the Broncos are being escorted into that first set of lifeboats, allow me to take a look back at the time they've shared with Nevada in the WAC. Or at least the times I can remember.

*Cue "Wayne's World" flashback sound*

I had first heard about Bronco Stadium's blue turf in early 2005, and like the film "The Room" I figured I had to see it for myself in order to believe it. And sure enough, when I tuned in to see Nevada get pummeled in Boise later that year, my reaction to both their on-field performance and the actual field itself was "Sweet zombie Jesus that's heinous." To this day, that field is to college football what Liberace was to fashion: while you can't help but admire and commend the guy in question for his obvious skill at what he does, it all nonetheless begs the question "Why?"

Worst Memory

The 2006 game in Reno. This...was...awful. If I ever contribute a word to a dictionary someday, hopefully it will be the word "facepalm" so I can put a picture of Jeff Rowe getting sacked for the fiftieth time by a Boise State player underneath it. We all love Jeff -- he was a local high school hero, the first Nevada quarterback to run the pistol and a really nice guy by all accounts. But to put it delicately, he was about as effective as roadkill whenever he played the Broncos.

And that wasn't even the worst part. That was reserved for the Mackay Stadium field's hosting of the unofficial post-game victory celebration. If games like Pack Friday made you glad from the depths of your heart and soul to be a Nevada fan, then games like this one made you wonder why you take it so seriously at all. Being pretty much the only student fan left in that stadium, it was six, maybe seven different kinds of depressing to watch thousands of life-size traffic cones streaming on to that field. It was like the part in "Conan the Barbarian" where James Earl Jones kills Conan's mother right in front of him -- my cherubic innocence as a sports fan was forever defiled and the seeds of their future destruction were planted on that day (At least, in my head they were). The only comforting thought I had was that if their fans decided to tear down the goal posts like some of them had suggested before the game, the judge would go easy on me for whatever I would've done next. I'm no legal expert, but I'm fairly certain this is true.

Honorable Mention: the quarterfinal loss in the 2005 WAC Tournament in Reno. Sitting one section over from the Bronco fans in attendance made this one even worse. On the upside, seeing Nevada get an at-large bid to the Dance and a win over Texas the following week while BSU sat at home were pretty swell rebound prizes.

Best Memory

...Do you actually need to ask this question? Seriously, if this is even up for debate in your mind, just stop reading right now.

It wasn't just the second half ripped straight out of a cheesy sports movie that made this so wonderful, but all the things that were secondary to the win itself. All of the publicity it earned for the program. The feeling of proud vindication for all the people who stood by the team through the worst of times. The looks of stunned disbelief on the faces of every person in blue and orange shuffling out of that stadium. The giddy and unabashedly ridiculous dancing I performed to the sounds of Journey blaring out of my car speakers.

Honorable Mention: the ASUN bus trip I took up to Boise for a basketball game in 2007. The moment that has stayed with me ever since that night was when a very old lady sitting in front of us tried to talk smack -- something unimportant about Nick Fazekas being Nevada's only good player or something. I responded with a polite "Watch the rest of our guys and you'll see for yourself" almost immediately before Denis Ikovlev and Tyrone Hanson hit back-to-back threes. We didn't hear a peep out of her the rest of the evening.

So Hello/Goodbye, Boise State. As you venture forward into that world of uncertain possibilities, take one last look at those "Western Athletic Conference Co-Champion" rings, pop in a copy of that TCU/Wisconsin Rose Bowl and be sure to carry a fond remembrance of who made them both possible into the Mountain West with you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Filler #11: Utah State

The various conference realignments which have transpired over the last year have played out like a high-stakes game of musical chairs, with plenty of hemming and hawing from the athletic programs seemingly left without a seat. Nevada could've very easily been in that position, and it goes without saying that we sympathize with the programs and fan bases who will have to figure out how survive in the new Western Athletic Conference in 2012.

Unless, of course, those same fans claim to be morally and ethically superior to the rest of us. In that case -- pardon my French -- screw 'em.

Utah State Aggies

If the worst football programs in the WAC were contestants on "American Idol," the Aggies would have the best chance of moving on to Hollywood, i.e. getting to the .500 plateau. Granted, that's still not saying much when you haven't played in a bowl game since the Clinton administration and all of the other contestants might as well be named William Hung, but a little hope here and there couldn't hurt.


Scoring: 22.0 points per game (t-94th)
Rushing: 168.7 yards per game (41st)
Passing: 178.7 yards per game (93rd)
Total: 347.3 yards per game (84th)
1st Downs: 19.2 per game (t-65th)
3rd Down Conversions: 39.8% (64th)
Red Zone Conversions: 89.5% (9th)


Scoring: 33.8 points per game (101st)
Rushing: 179.9 yards per game (89th)
Passing: 249.8 yards per game (106th)
Total: 429.7 yards per game (101st)
Sacks: 13.0 (t-109th)
Tackles for Loss: 46.0 (118th)
Turnover Margin: -5 (t-80th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 2 (t-107th)
Kickoff Returns: 25.2 yards per return (13th)
Punts: 40.3 yards per punt (t-76th)
Punt Returns: 4.24 yards per return (107th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 1,444 - Number of yards on kickoff returns junior receiver/return specialist Kerwynn Williams accumulated in 2010, a single-season FBS record; 11.08 - Number of tackles senior linebacker Bobby Wagner averaged per game in 2010, tied for seventh-best in the country; 6 - Number of winning seasons Utah State has had since 1975.

Whether it was the late kickoff, the sparse crowd or the Halloween parties that were no doubt on the minds of everyone who actually attended, Nevada's defense did not have a good second half against Utah State last year. After bolting out to a 35-0 lead while holding the Aggies to 71 total yards in the first half, the visitors exploded for 419 offensive yards and 42 points in the next two quarters. It completely soured what should've been an easy victory and gave another measure of hope to a fan base whose entire existence over the last year has been a series of hopes being cruelly/hilariously dashed one after another.

It also remains one of the two most baffling blemishes on Nevada's otherwise sublime 2010 season, with the other being the offense's (literally) offensive performance at Hawai'i. How in the silver and blue hell do you hold Hawaii and Boise State to fewer points than the Fighting Cow Milkers? Even second-string defensive players should be able to put up more resistance than what they showed in the second half of that game. It ultimately matters little in hindsight, as Utah State went on to finish 4-8, but it still mildly irritates me many months later like the lingering stench of cat pee in an old apartment.

It's easy to see why some followers of WAC football are predicting bigger things for the Aggies in 2011. The offense's only starting losses are quarterback Diondre Borel (our inaugural recipient of the Poor Man's Kaepernick award) and left tackle Spencer Johnson. Formerly injured running back Robert Turbin also returns, albeit with a newly healed ACL and as-yet-unknown effectiveness. The linebacking corps returns all three starters, but the defensive line and secondary lose five starters and four back-ups and will have to be nearly completely retooled. Vacancies at punter and place-kicker round out the losses.

The good news: the offense's potential for improvement and a more favorable schedule than in other years, both of which point to a possible breakthrough season for the Aggies. The bad news: all the replacements which must be found on a defense that was already poor and the slim margin of error the team will have in its toss-up games, meaning equal potential for another year of more of the same. Can they finish with more than four wins this year? I think so. Can they finish at .500 or better? That remains to be seen.

The very last Summer Filler entry is next Tuesday, and it's one of the only circumstances in which you'll ever see me legitimately happy to be talking about the Idaho Vandals.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Few Words on Brandon Wimberly

I didn't think it would be right to continue "blogging as usual" unless I said a few words about Brandon Wimberly first.

For the second time this summer, tragedy has struck our Nevada family. A bright and promising young life, though thankfully not extinguished from this world, was nonetheless forever changed. Although I can't say I know him personally, it is clear that Brandon has touched a lot of people's lives, and that is reason enough for me to feel profoundly saddened by Saturday's news.

I thought about listing some of my favorite memories of him wearing the silver and blue. But this isn't a memorial, and it wouldn't feel right to do that for a young man whose entire life is still in front of him. More importantly, this isn't about football.

Instead, all I ask is that you reserve judgment on this situation until all the facts come to light. Look at some of the things which have previously been said about him before you jump to any conclusions. Let this case play out before making any presumptions about Brandon, his teammates, his coaches or the city of Reno.

Please wish Brandon the best on the road to recovery that now lies before him. But more importantly, give him and everyone else involved in these events the benefit of the doubt that our system of justice provides.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Ballad of Tyler Lantrip

I feel bad for Tyler Lantrip.

Sure, when the media inevitably asks him what's it's like to try and follow in Colin Kaepernick's shoes, he'll say all the right things a collegiate quarterback and leader amongst his teammates is expected to say. And we have no reason to doubt his honesty in saying those things. But no matter what he ends up doing on the field, no matter how many wins he leads his team to, the comparisons will unfairly start up at the first and slightest sign of struggle.

And it's all because of timing, really.

He arrived on campus one year after Kaepernick and -- like many people at that time -- with nary an inkling of what he was capable of. A knee injury to Nick Graziano in a home game against Fresno State in 2007 is what initially thrust Kaepernick into the spotlight. His first official start the following week -- on national TV at Boise State -- formally introduced the whole country to "Krazy Legs" in a way few players ever introduce themselves to a sport. Records, both program and national, would be shattered over the next three and a half seasons, culminating in Nevada's night of all nights on November 26th, 2010.

Throughout this entire time, Lantrip sat on the sidelines, patiently waiting for his turn to take command of the ship his eventual predecessor had so skillfully guided to rarefied waters. He could've very easily followed the examples of Tate Forcier and Ryan Mallett and transferred out instead of continuing the waiting game. When you've been recruited by the likes of Arizona State, Stanford and Northwestern, chances are you don't have many illusions as to what you're capable of doing on a football field.

But Lantrip was content to honor his commitment to Nevada, both confident in the chance he would eventually have to blaze his own trail and knowing firsthand just how quickly circumstance could necessitate a new leader. Additionally, he realized there was no better place for him to be than right here at Nevada. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said "This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it." And in that sense, there was no better way to groom himself for a starting role than to practice every day alongside the best pistol quarterback in the nation.

Lantrip is a quarterback with good height, a strong arm and a good presence in the pocket who also displays great maturity on and off the field. In short, he's the kind of player all but a few programs would welcome to their roster, and is good enough to start at many of them. But partly because of that aforementioned maturity and patience and mostly because of who held the position before him, his skill set won't be considered "good enough" by some.

The fact is that we can't expect every successive Nevada quarterback to churn out the kinds of numbers Kaepernick did any more than Alabama fans can expect every Crimson Tide coach to become the next Bear Bryant. It's not fair to the players of the present and it idolizes Kaepernick to an extent he probably wouldn't be comfortable with.

What we can do, however, is maintain our trust in a Hall of Fame head coach whose expertise in picking out quarterbacks is among the best in his profession. Lantrip has earned Coach Ault's backing, and not because he feels he'll be the next Colin Kaepernick. Becoming the next Tyler Lantrip will be plenty good enough for Coach and for all of us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Filler #10: Louisiana Tech

We're approaching the end of our Summer Filler series, and frankly I'm not sure what else I can add to that right now. So enjoy this video in honor of the Mavericks' win on Sunday night.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

It's easy to feel bad for the WAC's "other" Bulldogs. Even in the years they field good teams, it's difficult for fans of other WAC teams to get fired up when they come to town because...well, they're from Louisiana. They've been stuck all by themselves in their central time zone outpost ever since the WAC's last major reorganization in 2005. And when your basketball "travel partner" is in Las Cruces, New Mexico -- across the entire state of Texas and one time zone over -- it's not a great situation for anyone involved.


Scoring: 26.8 points per game (59th)
Rushing: 170.8 yards per game (40th)
Passing: 219.1 yards per game (62nd)
Total: 389.8 yards per game (t-49th)
1st Downs: 20.9 per game (41st)
3rd Down Conversions: 37.6% (t-78th)
Red Zone Conversions: 77.6% (91st)


Scoring: 30.7 points per game (90th)
Rushing: 171.9 yards per game (t-81st)
Passing: 290.2 yards per game (117th)
Total: 462.1 yards per game (116th)
Sacks: 24.0 (t-65th)
Tackles for Loss: 63.0 (t-93rd)
Turnover Margin: -5 (t-80th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 5 (t-82nd)
Kickoff Returns: 23.5 yards per return (t-25th)
Punts: 40.11 yards per punt (79th)
Punt Returns: 13.6 yards per return (10th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 4 and 4 - Number of kick-offs and punts, respectively, that departed wide receiver and return specialist Phillip Livas returned for touchdowns in his career, which together tied an NCAA record; 4-53 - Since 1998, the Bulldogs' record in games in which they've score less than 21 points; 2 - Number of teams other than Boise State who have won an outright WAC title since the Broncos joined the conference (Louisiana Tech in 2001 and Hawai'i in 2007).

The states of Nevada and Louisiana have about as much in common with each other as Wayne Newton and Britney Spears do -- aside from both being professional singers, that's pretty much where the similarities end. And aside from both having played football in the WAC for around a decade apiece, the Pack and the Bulldogs don't have much else in common themselves. Maybe in a parallel dimension these programs could've developed a nice little rivalry, but here in our non-Bizarro world a little thing called "geography" gets in the way.

Once Sonny Dykes' spread offense began to click last year, the Bulldogs took on a form that many other WAC teams have made famous over the years: a high-octane offense with a "defense" best preceded by the words "We don't need no stinkin'". Even as their offense improved from the first half of the season onward, their defense continued to struggle and was the biggest reason why they ultimately came up just short of bowl eligibility. The unit's improvement will be crucial in getting back to the .500 plateau in 2011.

This fact is even more apparent after looking at who the Bulldogs must replace. The losses on offense are fairly minimal, with the aforementioned Livas, tackle Rob McGill, guard Jared Miles and inconsistent quarterback Ross Jenkins the only departing players. The defense, however, is not in the same boat, as three defensive backs (Tank Calais, Josh Victorian and Olajuwon Paige) and two tackles (Mason Hitt and Randy Grigsby) must be replaced. It goes without saying that Livas' skill set on punt and kick returns will also be greatly missed.

With running back Lennon Creer poised for what could be a break-out season, the Tech offense has the potential to get even better and surprise some people. But any hopes the Bulldogs have of winning a WAC championship hinge on finding numerous productive replacements in a defense that wasn't particularly good to begin with.

Next week it's Utah State, everyone's favorite ambassadors of premature celebration.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The "Old vs. New" Conundrum

As I alluded to in Tuesday's entry, the Mountain West unveiled its new logo and re-branding efforts in a press conference this week. And like so many other big changes that have taken place across college sports in the last year, the reaction to it was visceral and almost immediate. Is this honestly how people perceive the logo? Or are they just acquiescing to the "everything sucks and you're stupid" culture the Internet perpetuates? Or is it something else?

I've already gone on record as saying I think the logo is fine -- it's not the best one out there, but I've certainly seen worse. The recent trend in branding athletic conferences has been to move beyond the "conference" label to something bigger and more abstract, and this new look for the Mountain West is no exception. With this new image and marketing effort, Craig Thompson wants to elevate the Mountain West name to become synonymous with the region whose name it bears, to help give it the same cache the SEC name carries in the south or the Big Ten name has in the upper Midwest.

No one should be surprised the logo got the kind of reception it did -- the anonymity and instant feedback the Internet now provides to people's thoughts has fostered entire generations who are absolutely certain they can instantly hate something even if they're not quite sure why. What I don't quite understand in this case, though, is the attachment people apparently had for the old Mountain West logo. The conference itself is very young -- not yet a teenager compared to its peers and even younger than Conference USA or the Big 12. Yet fans still went absolutely apeshit when this change was made public, like they had just returned to their new car and found it mounted on cinder blocks with its tires missing. Had they really grown that attached to something which had come into existence barely over a decade ago?

I'm fully aware that being a Nevada fan pretty much makes me an outsider to Mountain West history and lore up to August 18th of last year. But I still think this whole ruckus can be chalked up to good ol'-fashioned nostalgia -- that fond remembrance of things past which almost always ends up idealizing them to the point when they become something else entirely.

To prove my point, first take a look at this picture:

That's James Cannida, former Wolf Pack defensive lineman. See the helmet he's wearing? That's the "script 'Pack'" helmet you'll sometimes hear older Nevada fans clamoring to be brought back, usually because they're not fond of our current helmet. Inevitably they'll claim that it was distinct and uniquely Nevada, that it was indicative of a simpler time when linemen could get away with wearing big Quasimodo shoulder pads and "Big West football" wasn't an oxymoron yet.

Well I hate to burst your silver and blue bubbles, but that helmet wasn't all that great. In fact, you might say it was downright average. Talk all you want about the great Pack players of the Big West era, the old tailgating scene south of the stadium or even the live wolf the team used to run on to the field with, but quit pining for those damn helmets.

"But Pack Backer! Those helmets really were special and unique!"

No, they weren't. In fact, Fresno State had some just like it...

...and so did Idaho...

...and New Mexico State...

...and San Jose State...

...and even Boise State.

Still think that logo is special and unique now?

Don't get me wrong -- I still like the script "Pack" helmets, but I'll never mistake them for some grandiose symbol of "the good old days." Besides, do you remember how bad some of those Nevada teams actually were? I don't know about you, but I'm in no hurry to idealize the Tisdel years any more than they deserve.

Ultimately, it's possible to have a healthy appreciation for the past without distorting it into something it never was in the first place. We're not cave men and not all changes are things to be terrified of. At least let some time pass before you immediately decide you hate something like the new Mountain West logo, and resist that urge to trundle on over to the comments section of the next article you read and spew whatever bile you feel compelled to share with the world.

Unless, of course, it's this one.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Filler #9: Hawai'i

Before I go into the SF entry on Hawai'i, I'll briefly share my thoughts on the Mountain West's press conference from yesterday.

On the whole, I think the new logo is fine -- it's simple, but effective, and will help to further build up the Mountain West as something more than just a collection of athletic programs and universities. What I didn't like, though, is the hype that preceded what turned out to be a relatively modest announcement. But I admit that might've been a case of my personal hopes and aspirations being transposed on to something that didn't intend to come across that way. And it still beats the hell out of that "Leaders and Legends" crap.

Hawai'i Warriors

Although they will most likely be in the mix for a WAC title in the coming Year Without a Boise State, the Warriors will still field a team that will look very different from the one that went 10-4 last year. A few things will likely remain true, though: they'll pass a lot, they'll score a lot, and their roster will boast more hard-to-pronounce names than a Russian all-star hockey team.


Scoring: 39.6 points per game (10th)
Rushing: 106.4 yards per game (107th)
Passing: 394.3 yards per game (1st)
Total: 500.6 yards per game (6th)
1st Downs: 23.9 per game (t-13th)
3rd Down Conversions: 37.6% (77th)
Red Zone Conversions: 80.9% (71st)


Scoring: 25.5 points per game (58th)
Rushing: 135.9 yards per game (40th)
Passing: 221.7 yards per game (63rd)
Total: 357.6 yards per game (50th)
Sacks: 30.0 (t-32nd)
Tackles for Loss: 75.0 (t-59th)
Turnover Margin: +12 (t-11th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 5 (t-82nd)
Kickoff Returns: 20.2 yards per return (t-94th)
Punts: 43.0 yards per punt (29th)
Punt Returns: 3.8 yards per return (111th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 194, 74 and 38 - Number of passing plays of 10+, 20+ and 30+ yards, respectively, that senior-to-be quarterback Bryant Moniz completed last year, all three of which were national highs; 23 - Number of interceptions the Hawai'i defense caught in 2010, tied with Virginia Tech for second-most in the country; 17 - Number of seasons which passed between the Warriors' last two 1,000-yard rushers (Travis Sims in 1992 and Alex Green last year).

In 2005, the WAC's top three teams beat each other in a manner not unlike a game of Rock Paper Scissors: Fresno beat Boise, Boise beat Nevada and Nevada beat Fresno. It happened again in 2010: Boise beat Hawai'i, Hawai'i beat Nevada and Nevada beat Boise, but unlike the previous instance, all three teams became co-champions this time. But where Nevada has arguably surpassed Fresno State in the last few years and finally shed its back of the Bronco monkey (or "Bronkey," if you will) for at least one year, the Warriors are a team which has continued to vex the Pack, and often in ways which have been incredibly frustrating and painful for us as fans to watch.

It's not that Nevada hasn't had success against Hawai'i in the recent past -- the home team has won ten of the eleven meetings between these two since Nevada joined the WAC in 2000. But since 2003, all but one game have been decided by ten or fewer points, and the Pack is 3-5 in those contests. In fact, from the standpoints of competitiveness and closeness on the field of play, I'm going to go so far as to declare Hawai'i as Nevada's best rival of the last few years. You read that right. NSU has been a rival in name only as of late, but these Wolf Pack/Warrior games have fit the term perfectly.

Like the other two front-runners for this year's King of the Hill Who's Not Boise State For Once, Hawai'i has a lot of important questions to answer. Those questions begin on offense, where four out of five starting linemen, three receivers (two of whom were highly productive) and a rare 1,000-yard running back all depart. On the other side, the two defensive backs who accounted for more than half of the Warriors' interceptions -- Mana Silva and Jeramy Bryant -- are both gone, as well as both ends and a back-up linebacker. Place kicker Scott Enos and kickoff return man Dustin Blount round out the alohas. Luckily for the Warriors, the team's undisputed leaders on offense and defense -- Moniz and linebacker Corey Paredes, the nation's fourth-leading tackler last year -- do return, and their chances of winning the last championship of the WAC as we know it will likely hinge upon their efforts.

Next week's Summer Filler will focus on Louisiana Tech, so get those numerous connecting flights and long bus rides squared away.

Friday, June 3, 2011

PWtW Brings You the News

There are now less than 100 days until Nevada's season opening game at Oregon, and it's our job here at Pistol Whipping the WAC to bring you the latest in news that matters to Wolf Pack fans.

Nevada football scheduled to play entire NFC West

Reno, NV - In what's believed to be the first arrangement of its kind in the history of college football, the University of Nevada Wolf Pack will play a series of four exhibition games against four different NFL teams next year.

The deal was announced by Nevada athletic director Cary Groth at a press conference at the team's offices on campus. Flanked by football players -- who remained silent throughout the event -- Groth extolled the publicity it will bring to the program.

"I feel this will be a tremendous opportunity to expose NFL fans to Wolf Pack football, and I know our players will be up to the challenges presented by these games," which she added would all be played at the NFL teams' respective stadiums. "Frankly, I'm not sure why no other program has thought to do this before."

Under the terms of the agreement, the program will receive an as-yet undisclosed amount of money for the games against Seattle, St. Louis, San Francisco and Arizona. In spite of this, Groth assured the group of reporters present that the amount Nevada is due to receive will be "comparable to what other collegiate programs would get."

Because of recently departed quarterback Colin Kaepernick's draft selection by San Francisco, Groth said, he would be held out of that game to avoid any "conflicts of interest."

When asked why she sought out the Seahawks, Rams, 49ers and Cardinals for these games and didn't make more demands during the negotiating process, Groth was adamant in her response. "We wanted destinations that would be easy for our fans to travel to. The program's well-being and our fans' ability to support these players in person were paramount concerns for us throughout this whole process."

Nevada head coach Chris Ault was out on the recruiting trail at the time of the announcement. He sounded mostly pleased when reporters contacted him and told him the news.

"That's really neat stuff. Since it's the NFC West, it won't be much different than the competition we'd face from someone like New Mexico State."

Latest Oregon football uniforms visible from space

In this satellite photograph of Eugene, Oregon taken from aboard the ISS, the blue arrow points to a cluster of the new Duck football uniforms.

Eugene, OR - In their continuing effort to provide their football players with the latest in futuristic clothing, athletic department officials from the University of Oregon unveiled the program's latest line of uniforms at a press conference yesterday.

"These uniforms are indicative of Nike's commitment to providing our players with the best competitive edge in all of sports," said Ducks head coach Chip Kelly. "The cosmically bright shades of neon green and electric yellow in addition to the black and silver alternates will be just another facet of playing the Ducks that our opponents will have to plan for."

The stylized, distinct combinations of jerseys, pants and helmets were developed at Nike headquarters in Beaverton. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station later confirmed the uniforms were plainly visible to the naked eye from low Earth orbit, just as UO officials had boasted.

"We were skeptical at first, but once we got into a geosynchronous orbit over Eugene and went out for a space walk, it was real easy to spot 'em," said shuttle commander Col. Dennis Hayes. "No binoculars necessary. That's American ingenuity for you."

In response to concerns that have already been voiced over the potential danger the uniforms could pose to other players and fans, a Nike spokeswoman seemed unfazed.

"We've anticipated such concerns, and are prepared to address them with a new line of premium sunglasses which will be available exclusively from Nike. You've heard the phrase 'put on your stunner shades' before -- well, you might say these are actual 'stunner shades,' as they prevent you from being physically stunned by these colors."