Nevada football coach Brian Polian came on my radio show before fall camp opened to answer several questions about the upcoming season.
The season officially kicks off Friday, Sept. 2 at the newly renovated Mackay Stadium against Cal Poly.
A lot of people have hit on the new faces shuffling in and out (on the defensive side). Do you expect teams, especially early in the season, to run right at you? To maybe try to expose that?
Unfortunately, it’s going to be baptism by fire for these guys. Because while our fans look at Cal Poly and say ‘well, it’s an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) program out of the Big Sky.’ They run NAVY’s offense, so they run triple option.
And you look at Cal Poly’s history, I sat with Doug Knuth (Nevada athletic director) and I said ‘Doug I appreciate the fact that we scheduled (an FCS school) out of the west, but can we talk first before.’
Trust me, I’ve had to defend NAVY and Air Force for a long time from our Notre Dame days. Now you have to deal with that, and then game two you’re at Notre Dame.
Those two schools will just do what they do. They’re not going to key on anybody. They’re kind of in a world ‘we run what we run and you have to stop it,’ but it’s going to be baptism by fire for the new guys.
One of the guys I wanted to ask you about, a local guy, defensive tackle Nick Gregg out of Reed, a freshman coming in. Is there any chance we see him this year? That he has an impact?
I hope not.
Are you going to redshirt him?
I would love to redshirt him. It’s just whether or not we’re going to have the luxury to do that. The reality of it is: the closer you are to the line of scrimmage, the harder it is to play as a young player.
Dameon Baber (safety) was All-Mountain West selection as a true freshman, but he’s on the third level of the defense…
You have to be a grown man to play up on the line of scrimmage and while Nick is a big boy, he’s not quite a grown man, yet.
Keeping good, local talent here is important to us. We’re happy that he’s with us. Ideally, we’d like to redshirt him, but sometimes need dictates those things.
Coach, I’ll get you out of here on this. You look around the Mountain West – West, I don’t think anybody is really going to give you nightmares. San Diego State is going to be really good this year … Is it an expectation within the program that ‘we’re going to play for a Mountain West title?’ Because that’s what I think a lot of the fans are hoping for this year.
Well of course fans hope for that. That’s what fans do. And if I let the fans, or anybody else, dictate our expectations … Nobody decides what a success is. Nobody decides what the goals are, other than us.
I know that might sound borderline arrogant. But it’s our family. It’s us.
We try to win every game we play. When we go to South Bend (to play Notre Dame), we’re going to win the game. We’re going to big underdogs. We’re going to try to win the game. We’re not going to collect the check.
Right now, San Diego State is the bully in the Mountain West, even more so than Boise. They are the bully right now and they return everybody. Our styles of play are pretty similar and it’s a pretty good game when we play each other.
Two years ago, we won by 14. Last year, they won by 17. Both of those games were closer than the score would indicate.
If we want to win a Mountain West Championship, we have to take out San Diego State. But the reality is we have a lot of work to do between now and then.
What we have spent the spring and summer talking about, is The Cannon. I’ve spent the whole offseason talking about The Cannon…
I like this team. I enjoy them very much. I think they’re a good group. If we don’t score, I’m going to be upset. We have a lot of people coming back. We have to get the young defense ready to go, but I like this team. And I’m excited to get going.