Spring Wrap: Nevada Wolf Pack
By Ken Pomponio
Spring drills are winding down in the Mountain West Conference with nine of the 12 squads having put the wraps on their allotted 15 practices.
Here’s a glance at how the spring went for Nevada, which is making the transition from legendary coach Chris Ault to first-time head coach Brian Polian:
- With quarterback Cody Fajardo back along with all three of his starting receivers, the Wolf Pack passing attack – overshadowed by Stefphon Jefferson and the nation’s seventh-leading ground game a year ago – was expected to be a spring strength. Fajardo and Company didn’t disappoint. Fajardo, who will be a junior after leading the MWC in total offense a year ago, already has cropped up on some early Heisman watch lists and will have plenty of help in his trio of returning wideouts: senior Brandon Wimberly and juniors Aaron Bradley and Richy Turner.
- Another expected spring strength, the Pack’s defensive front, might’ve even been better than expected, drawing rave reviews from Polian in the Reno Gazette-Journal. Led by junior end Brock Hekking, a second-team All-MWC selection in 2012, and boasting four of the defense’s five returning starters along with some quality depth, the defensive line likely will have to carry the load given the overall unit’s uncertainty and inexperience at linebacker and in the defensive backfield.
- Speaking of that uncertainty and inexperience, the Wolf Pack cornerback situation is Exhibit A. Starter Charles Garrett has shifted to safety, and while there seemingly is experience with senior Markus Smith and junior Evan Favors leaving an uneven spring as the projected starters, the duo combined for only three starts in 2012. As a result, new defensive coordinator Scott Hazelton might have to look to the incoming freshman ranks for help in the fall.
- Jefferson left early for the NFL after finishing as the nation’s No. 2 rusher last season, leaving question marks and a bevy of replacement candidates behind. JUCO transfer Don Jackson and junior Kendall Brock, who is back in the backfield after a trial run at receiver this spring, emerged atop the post-spring depth chart. They, along with some of the other backs down the depth chart, showed some flashes, but there’s still work to be done here in fall camp.
- Fajardo was the unquestioned headliner in the Blue’s 20-7 win over the Silver, completing 17 of his 25 attempts for 251 yards and a pair of TDs.
- Redshirt freshman Hasaan Henderson, who made the spring switch from QB to receiver, led all pass catchers with four grabs for 76 yards.
- Backup defensive end Tyler Houk had three total tackles and a team-high two sacks.
The Pack dives into fall camp in early August as they prep for the Aug. 31 opener at the Pac-12’s UCLA.