Coach Polian has stated that the first week would be all about building the depth chart, finding out who is ready and who should red shirt. The rest of the remaining practices will be spent preparing the team to open at UCLA on August 31st.
Next Saturday, the 17th, Nevada will hold an open scrimmage for fans beginning at 7:30pm. This will more than likely be the first of a few run throughs the staff puts the team through to get them ready for the game day routine they expect them to use the day of the UCLA game.
Fans who made it out to Mackay Stadium this past Saturday saw a very structured, high intensity practice that kept up a breathless pace from the opening to closing whistle.
Each unit, receivers, quarterbacks, linebackers, etc. were broken off into their individual groups doing drills for the majority of the practice, and each time the horn would blow the groups would quickly move on to the next position and drill on the field. It's obvious the players and staff all knew exactly what came next and where they were supposed to be. The goal is obviously to maximize every precious minute of practice time and prepare the team to play at the pace they will be pushing during games. If Pack fans thought this offense played at a feverish pace last season, they should expect to see it taken up a notch this coming year.
It's obvious that the feverish pace the offense played at last season was just a starting point for this season. The practices appear designed to get the offense playing at a pace that would make defenses gasp and Nick Saban whine.
While it's difficult to read to much from a practice, stand outs included:
Cody Fajardo has put on about 15 pounds of muscle in the off-season. He looks solid, a few steps faster and teams that underestimate his passing ability are going to pay dearly. He could still improve his long ball but his short and intermediate passes are just dead on target and he's able to extend plays with his legs and get to that 3rd and 4th read. Like Kaepernick in his junior year, he's developed such a command of the read option offense that teams with inexperienced defensive lines who can't stay in their gaps are likely going to have a tough day of it.
The defensive line looks like it might have more depth than it's had in years. Newcomer Ian Seau showed those blinding first steps that helped him garner 19 sacks at Grossmont College last season. During practice, Seau was moved to DE and Lenny Jones was moved inside to accommodate the move. Add Seau to a line that already has Brock Hekking and Rykeem Yates and Nevada might have one of the most active defensive fronts in the MWC, a welcome bonus with the move to the Tampa 2 defense.
Lots could change between now at August 31st but while the first team defense was on the field, the starters were Hekking, Reynoso, Hanson and Jones on the line, DeKonig, Dobrich, and McNeal at linebacker, Evan Favors and Markus Smith at corner Bryson Keeton and Bryan Lane at the safeties position.
There is a ton more first hand observations and lots of discussion going on in The Den so make sure to stop by and check it out.
Also note that next Saturday, August 17th at 7:30pm, the practice will be open to the public as well and will likely include more of a game type atmosphere as the team preps for the night game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
Observations from the First Open Practice
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