Wolf Pack pack a pistol

Editor's note: This is the ninth in a series of 12 articles on Hawaii's opponents for the 2005 football season. Tomorrow: Utah State

Reno, the self-proclaimed "Biggest Little City in the World," would like to be home to the best little college football team in the country, or at least the region. Those titles, for now anyway, belong to the Western Athletic Conference neighbor to the north, Boise State.

Nevada coach Chris Ault sees no reason why the Wolf Pack can't emulate the success of the Broncos, owners of the last three Western Athletic Conference titles. Nevada, after all, was a consistent power when it played in lower divisions of college football, compiling 12 conference championships in the Far West, Big Sky and Big West leagues.

But since the Pack joined the WAC in 2000, the results haven't been to the lofty standards of Ault, who coached them during many of their glory years and was the athletic director until stepping back onto the field last year.

Nevada did fine at home last year, finishing 5-1 and accomplishing one of Ault's goals of making Mackay Stadium a bad place to visit. But the Pack went 0-6 on the road on its way to a sixth-consecutive non-winning season.

Drastic improvement on the WAC trails might be hard to come by, considering freshmen and sophomores are 60 percent of the roster.

But Ault does have a solid group of returning starters on both offense and defense.

Junior quarterback Jeff Rowe (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) will operate out of a new offense Ault calls the pistol. It could also be called the sawed-off shotgun, since the quarterback aligns himself four yards behind the center (instead of five), with a single back behind him.

The formation allows the Pack to use the straight-ahead running talents of B.J. Mitchell (5-8, 205) while not taking away from the passing schemes.

Receiver Nichiren Flowers (6-3, 209) is the league's most prolific returning pass catcher, with 91 grabs for 1,126 yards and six scores in 2004. He's joined by Kamehameha graduate Caleb Spencer, who caught 67 for 761 yards and four TDs. Much is expected of tight end Anthony Pudewell (6-3, 240) in his junior season.

Senior left tackle Adam Kiefer (6-4, 300) leads the offensive line.

"We had guys who would drown in a car wash," Ault said in disgust of Nevada's team speed on defense last year.

He said it's better this year, and Nevada switched its base defense to a 3-4 to exploit it.

Sophomore Jeremy Engstrom (6-1, 235) and senior J.J. Milan (6-4, 265) are two of the better linebackers in the league. Engstrom led the Pack with 97 tackles in 2004, and Milan moves to outside 'backer after 10.5 tackles for loss from defensive end last fall.

Both starting corners, senior Kevin Stanley and junior Paul Pratt, return. So does junior safety Nick Hawthorne, who picked off five passes as a sophomore.

Punter Justin Bergandahl is back, and second-year freshman Brett Jaekle is the new kicker.

Nevada Wolf Pack

Basic Offense: Multiple One-Back
Basic Defense: 4-3
2004 Record: 5-7 (3-5 WAC)
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 43/15
Starters Returning: 15
Head coach: Chris Ault (168-70-1)

2004 Results

Date Opponent Result
Sept. 6 Louisiana Tech L, 38-21
Sept. 11 Sacramento State W, 59-7
Sept. 18 Buffalo W, 38-13
Sept. 25 San Diego State L, 27-10
Oct. 2 UNLV L, 48-13
Oct. 9 HAWAII L, 48-26
Oct. 16 Rice W, 35-10
Oct. 23 Tulsa W, 54-48 (3OT)
Nov. 6 San Jose State W, 42-24
Nov. 13 SMU L, 38-20
Nov. 20 Fresno State L, 54-17
Nov. 27 Boise State L, 58-21

2005 Schedule

Date Opponent
Sept. 9 Washington State
Sept. 17 UNLV
Sept. 24 at Colorado State
Oct. 1 at San Jose State
Oct. 8 Idaho
Oct. 15 Louisiana Tech
Oct. 29 at Boise State
Nov. 12 at New Mexico State
Nov. 19 at Utah State
Nov. 26 Fresno State

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