The Bullet Points
- Obvious kidding aside, this narrative we've seen in each of the last few weeks -- Fall Behind, Adjust, Catch Up, Rinse, Repeat -- might be something we should get used to seeing. The Pack have found something that works for them, even if their coaches and fans would prefer that it not unfold in quite the same way. For a lot of other teams it would be infuriating to watch, but for this one it's not far off from what people were clamoring to see last year. The biggest complaint levied following Coach Polian's first campaign was the Pack's repeated inability to make quality second-half adjustments in close games. Now, not only is Nevada making better second-half changes, they often don't even wait until halftime to implement them. Even better, they have an increased win total they can point to. From the end of year one through two thirds of year two, Brian Polian and his coaching staff have acquired and put into practice a lot of collected wisdom and lessons learned. It's been remarkable to watch in action, and is worthy of some serious praise.
- With all of that said, though, there's a reason I keep coming back to my nickname of the "Cardiac Pack" to describe games like Saturday's. We're happy with the wins, but damned if they don't make our hearts (and livers) quake in fear when we see them coming. Speaking of which, another slogan to consider: "If it's not difficult, it's not Wolf Pack football."
- And while we're on the subject of games that hurt us internally, San Diego State returns to Mackay on Saturday. The Aztecs hope to return a few key players who've been absent for much of the year, and most signs point to another barn burner ending in bitter disappointment for one side. The 2012 game in Reno proved to be a turning point for both teams: San Diego State has gone 16-9 since that game, including two wins over Boise State and a pair of bowl appearances, while Nevada tailspun their way to losses in twelve of their next seventeen games. In each of the last two seasons, that Aztec loss just seems to have sucked the wind out of the Pack's sails, and another loss here has that same crippling potential. Even Paul Myerberg correctly observed the Pack's season could've gone in a very different direction had they completed the Qualcomm Qomeback last year. Both then and now, they're two teams connected at the hip. Any hope either of them has of winning the west division rests on winning this week, although Nevada would still need some extra help if they were to prevail. We've been hearing "Keep chopping" all throughout Coach Polian's time here, and come late Saturday night we'll either be yelling "Timber!"...or many words of disapproval unfit for a family column. No pressure or anything. Wolf Pack 36, Aztecs 35 in (what else?) overtime.
- Returning to the Hawai'i win one last time, if you haven't seen the athletic department's highlights from Saturday yet, do it. Specifically, start at the 38-second mark. Go ahead, I'll wait. *"Jeopardy" music* Was that not totally wicked awesome?! The only reason that blocked field goal hasn't gone viral yet is the lack of a telecast on the mainland. I'll give $5 to the first person who splices that clip with the "Six Million Dollar Man" sound effect. Jordan Dobrich requires it. DO IT.
Stone Enjoy By 10.31.14 IPA (Escondido, CA) -- Among the twelve cities the Mountain West Conference's members call home, San Diego is as close as it gets to a Mecca for beer drinkers. Granted, the Bay Area has some nice variety, Fort Collins is solid, of course, and you know I'll sing Reno's praises from any rooftop I happen across. But in terms of sheer quantity and quality, there's no comparison to San Diego's beer scene...unless the league were to extend an invitation to Portland State. The most famous San Diego brewery is Stone, and their calling cards are gargoyles and specially released IPAs. These are beers deliberately brewed so their freshness won't last beyond a certain date, and their latest offering had an "enjoy by" date so perfectly close to this week's game I couldn't pass it up. A moderate head forms when this brew is poured out of its 22-ounce bottle, and its clear, golden color is surprisingly light for an IPA. The aromas range from piney to malty to citrusy, and the taste blends all of that with eleven (!) different strains of hops. It's a flavor experience that manages to be big and bold without becoming overpowering, a rare feat in a world full of obnoxiously unbalanced IPAs ("Let's put all of ours hops into this one batch and call it a quintuple IPA! The beer geeks will lap it up!"). It turns out the "enjoy by" date in the name is not a gimmick, but rather an order: this beer is every bit as fresh as its label boasts and then some. If you can't find one in stores before this Friday, you'll just have to wait for the next batch. And get one if you can, because this really is the best beer I've reviewed this season. I give it four and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.
I'm sure the beer could be paired well with...something. Editor's note: I like a good Smoked Horseradish Brat from Ray's Market.
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