Season starts Sept. 3 at home against UC Davis
Nevada football players trickled into the Cashell Football Center last week, most of them hours early.
The Wolf Pack reported back to campus for the team’s first meeting of the season before officially opening training camp.
“The first day back is like Christmas,” third-year Nevada football coach Brian Polian said. “There’s a lot of energy in the building.”
The Wolf Pack, which returns 31 letter winners and 12 starters from last year’s team that went 7-6, opens the 2015 campaign on Thursday, Sept. 3, against UC Davis in Mackay Stadium.
Here are 10 tidbits from Nevada football’s season-opening press conference:
1.) Practice time change fueled by academic interests
After practicing in the afternoon in the previous two years of the Polian era, Nevada will now practice in the morning this season.
The move will help on the field because the players will be fresh in the morning, rather than rigid after being stationary in a classroom for a large chuck of the day. It will also help in the class room as each player will have the entire afternoon to focus on academics, while also having the opportunity to take night classes.
2.) Two criteria for winner of QB battle; take care of the ball, score touchdowns
No stranger to taking questions about Nevada’s quarterback battle entering fall camp, Polian made it pretty simple for what he expects from his to-be starting quarterback. Polian is looking for ball security, and the ability to get the offense into the end zone. Additionally, Polian said he won’t rely on fashion points or statistics in making a decision.
“Whoever takes care of the rock and can lead us to touchdowns will play,” Polian said.
That person will either be junior Tyler Stewart, sophomore Dante Mayes or redshirt-freshman Hunter Fralick. The Wolf Pack is also still awaiting word from the NCAA on the eligibility of sophomore Austin Kafentzis, who could factor into the QB battle if deemed eligible to play.
3.) Henderson receives the “all clear”
Wide receiver Hasaan Henderson missed the final three games of the season last year after a tackle at Air Force resulted in a head and spinal concussion. It was a scary moment for all, as Henderson lay on the field for nearly 10 minutes before being carted off the field and taken to a Colorado Springs hospital.
It once looked as though Henderson’s football career could be in doubt, but the junior received the all clear to practice and play from Nevada’s medical staff.
4.) Polian honored to attend father’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Coach Polian was at his father’s side in Canton, Ohio, when the National Football League presented Bill Polian with a sculpture and gold jacket as part of NFL Hall of Fame ceremonies.
5.) Corbett not impressed with Outland Trophy watch list nomination
One of the youngest players on a prestigious national watch list, Austin Corbett (Reed High grad) received numerous congratulations from family and friends on being named to the Outland Trophy watch list earlier this season. With poise and expectations that exceed his youth, Corbett said he’s not ready to rest on the laurels of a watch list.
“I don’t feel like I’ve arrived yet,” he said. “I don’t see it as being as cool as others might have. At the end of the day, I want to be the one guy on the list who is left standing in December.”
Corbett started in 12 games last season as a freshman, emerging as a breakout player on the team and in the MW.
6.) Polian reveals top position battles
A quarterback competition draws all the preseason headlines, and as such, it’s no secret that the Wolf Pack enters fall camp with a QB competition. That’s not the only position up for grabs, however, as Polian revealed other areas he expected to have healthy competition.
Polian said Nevada’s most prominent position battles will be at quarterback, cornerback, safety, center and right tackle. Nevada will look to replace Cody Fajardo’s 13,141 career yards of total offense at QB, four starters in the defensive backfield and three starters on the offensive line.
7.) Butler looks to be a leader
James Butler entered last season as a wide-eyed, nervous freshman before rushing for 648 yards and five TDs in a stellar rookie campaign. Part of the reason that was made possible was because of mentoring from his older teammates, particularly senior RB Don Jackson.
Now a sophomore, Butler is looking to return the favor and carry a leadership role for his position unit and the offense.
Nevada returns a combined 1,592 yards and 12 touchdowns from Jackson (957, 7) and Butler (635, 5), and will have one of the top 1-2 punches at running back in the conference.
8.) Nevada enters fall camp with a healthy roster
The Wolf Pack is in good shape on the injury front, as Polian only had two injury updates to make with the media. Junior WR Kam Richardson will likely be out three to five weeks with a broken toe, while sophomore LB Travis Wilson is three to four days away from recovering from a hamstring strain.
9.) Wolf Pack announces open practice for fans
The Wolf Pack will host an open practice to all fans at Mackay Stadium on Saturday.
10.) Polian excited about the renovations to Mackay Stadium
The Nevada athletic department is currently putting its finishing touches on its renovation plan for Mackay Stadium. The $11.5 renovation began this spring with the construction of a two-story, 2,800-square foot restroom facility. By the 2016 season, Nevada will add an 8,000-square foot stadium club, loge boxes and club seats, and chairback seating on both sides of the stadium.