Nevada presents challenge

Sep 262002
Authors: Reed Saunders

This is not your father’s Nevada Wolf Pack.

Used to be the University of Nevada was one of the easier dates on the CSU football schedule.

While that still may be true, the Wolf Pack has been doing everything to prove that assumption wrong.

Nevada has run off impressive wins against Rice and BYU and will look to improve its record to 3-1 when the No. 25 Rams (3-1) roll into town on Saturday (2 p.m. MT, 1410 KIIX AM).

The Wolf Pack has publicly spoken about a “revenge tour” in 2002, defeating teams who defeated them a year ago. BYU and Rice were the first to fall on that list and they’d like to believe CSU is next.

Nevada was an easy game for the Rams last year at Hughes Stadium. Even in an unimpressive performance, CSU steamrolled the Wolf Pack, 35-18. The consensus in the Rams’ locker room is it won’t be as easy this time around.

“There’s nobody easy, and I guarantee them beating BYU opened up a lot of eyes,” said Larry Kerry, the Rams’ defensive coordinator. “All you have to do is watch them on tape and you can tell this is an improved, solid football team and we have to be ready.”

The Wolf Pack’s main offensive weapon is their quarterback, Zack Threadgill. The senior from Glendale, Ariz., has thrown for over 400 yards in his last two games and was named the WAC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance against BYU. In that game, Threadgill completed 28 of 37 passes for a career-high 410 yards and four touchdowns.

“We saw what (Threadgill) did to BYU, but we’re confident,” said Rhett Nelson, a senior cornerback.

“All season we’ve faced teams that have the threat of the pass and we’ve really concentrated on shutting down deep routes and trick plays.”

The Wolf Pack did suffer a setback against BYU. Junior running back Chance Kretschmer is out for the season after injuring his knee on the first offensive play against the Cougars.

Though Kretschmer led the nation in rushing a year ago with over 1,700 yards, his replacement Matt Milton has picked up the slack, rushing for 196 yards already this season.

“Our approach doesn’t change because (Milton) is performing just as well as (Kretschmer) was,” Kerr said. “They’ve got a lot of offense. People see them as pass-oriented because of Threadgill’s numbers, but they’ve been running the ball very tough.”

Offensively, the Rams hope to pound away at the Wolf Pack with their running game.

Senior tailback Cecil Sapp is coming off a 130-yard, three touchdown performance against Louisville two weeks ago, but he also had two lost fumbles in that game.

“I’m not worried about fumbling this week, I’ve just got to go out and play football,” Sapp said. “They like to put eight and nine people in the box, so it’s going to be a challenge for me, but I want to take that challenge.”

Once again, the main question hovering over the Rams is will they finally be able to put a team away? CSU is winning exciting football games, but wouldn’t necessarily mind a lack of excitement this weekend.

“There is no good excuse,” head coach Sonny Lubick said. “We, as coaches and the players, just kind of let it get away. I see it as a lack of us playing very well and a lack of luck.”

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