Nevada Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Nevada Wolf Pack
Posted Aug 9, 2006

Nevada Wolf Pack Preview 2006 - Pack Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The Lone Wolf – He definitely doesn’t garner any of the attention of the big name quarterbacks around the nation.  He’s not a flashy, explosive sort who is a highlight reel waiting to happen.  He’s not the type of guy to draw attention to himself.  But, he is the saving grace for the Wolf Pack in 2006.  In other words, head coach Chris Ault can sleep very well at night with Jeff Rowe about to enter his third year as the Wolf Pack starting QB.  Regardless of the fact that most people around the nation don’t have a clue about who Rowe is, there are those teams who’d love to have #3 slingin’ it for their team.  Put Rowe at Alabama or say USC and most college fans would know who he exactly who he was.  But, Rowe is happy playing at home and should put up another strong season to close his career.  His 2005 season was solid in every respect (outside of the picks he threw at Boise State), as he threw for just under 3,000 yards with a better than two to one TD to interception ratio.   He was the beneficiary of a strong 1,000 yard rushing season from BJ Mitchell, but that shouldn’t change this year with Robert Hubbard toting the mail.  The offensive line has a bit of tweaking in store, but there’s some solid talent, in particular Barrett Reznick, to keep Rowe happy, healthy and productive this season.  Caleb Spencer was Rowe’s go-to receiver last year and that shouldn’t change this year with Spencer’s return.  The point being that the Wolf Pack averaged over 34 points a game last year and they could be even better under Rowe’s leadership this year.  Rowe, with 12 games to play this season, should easily reach the 3,200 yard mark, if he’s healthy, and firmly establish himself as one of the all-time greats at Nevada.  Not that anyone would know, though.

2nd and Seven – Don’t forget about us – Most years, people will use the number of returning starters as a basis for evaluating a team in the pre-season.  Well, don’t try that with the Wolf Pack.  The Wolf Pack have four guys who weren’t starters last year, who you should account for in assessing how good they’ll be this year.  Start with Robert Hubbard, running back.  As a backup, he ran for over 700 yards behind last year’s star BJ Mitchell, but is as talented as any back in the WAC this season.  JJ Milan, the Wolf Pack’s stout linebacker, returns to an already loaded crop of linebackers after sitting out all last season with an injury.  Paul Pratt, a cornerback, missed all last year with a knee injury and, if relatively healthy, should bolster that back four.  Also returning to the secondary is Nick Hawthrone, a three-year starter, who will miss the spring with an injury.  Taking into account the depth and the experience that these former starters/contributors can provide, their return is that much more vital.

3rd and Three – The Butler did it – Oh, yes, the Butler did do it.  He did it 75 times last season.  Ezra Butler is 6’2” and 248 pounds of big-time linebacker, and he’s only a junior.  Butler started all 12 games last year at the bandit linebacker spot and gives the team a play making threat on the outside, in addition to be a physical, head-hunting tackler.  In addition to his 75 tackles, he finished with 16.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks, which shows how active and aggressive Butler is chasing the football. 

4th and One – Dealing with being the hunted, not the hunter – For much of the last four years, the Boise State Broncos were WAC football.  Undefeated at 24 – 0 over the three year span of 2002 – 2004, the Broncos were the team in this league that everyone chased.  But, in 2005, the Broncos were brought back to the pack a bit, by Fresno State, who ultimately was undone by the Wolf Pack.  Consequently, at season’s end, a WAC title trophy went to Boise State, but another was shipped to Reno for Chris Ault’s Wolf Pack.  That’s where the story changes for the Wolf Pack.  After chasing the champs for so many years, they’re now the champs – they’re the hunted.  Sure, the Wolf Pack still must beat Boise State to establish true superiority, but the rest of the conference is going to be gunning for the Wolf Pack this year.  You wake people up when you knock out eight of your last nine opponents like Ault’s squad did last year, including Fresno State.  It’s a different feeling when you’re the king on the mountain with everyone looking to bounce you off the hill.

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