Brats, Beers and Bullet Points, Week 12

The West is still Nevada’s to win. The West is still Nevada’s to win. The West is still Nevada’s to win.

The Bullet Points

  • Let that be your mantra for the weekend all the way up through the Fresno State game (spoiler alert: we’re gonna win that one). Repeat it out loud a few times, really swish it around in the air. Finished? Good. Now let’s all say what’s surely on all of our minds — and type it out in all-caps — at the exact same moment in 3…2…1…*Caps Lock on* WHY IS IT SO DOGGONE HARD FOR Nevada TO DEFEND THE DOGGONE TRIPLE OPTION??!!!!?!?!!?!? *Caps Lock off*

  • Three years, three defensive coordinators and a nice, tidy average of 45 points surrendered each time the Pack have played the Falcons. And seeing it unfold on TV has become akin to watching a Saturday afternoon horror movie — when the pretty girl hides where the killer also happens to be hiding, and you hope against hope and countless generations of storytelling that she’ll notice him and slip away before the killing blow is landed, but instead she turns around, she screams, the blood splatters, and it’s all so routine. Overall, Nevada’s defense has trended a little bit upward from last year, and you know the coaches are taking this loss even harder than a wing nut like me ever could, so those just compound the anger ball even further. All we have now are questions about how the team prepares itself to face triple option opponents and another conference game with more ramifications than it has any business having.

  • On that subject, Fresno State doesn’t pose nearly as many challenges as Air Force does — nowhere near as many. They’ve had a rough year by most definitions of the term, experiencing serious issues with their quarterback play and defense for most of it. They did put up a nice passing game against a good San Jose State secondary in their last game, but considering the nosedive the Spartans have taken in the last two weeks, that probably says more about them than it does about the Bulldogs. And yet — say it with me now — Fresno State can still clinch the West Division if they win out. That says it all right there. There’s an entirely real possibility Nevada could squander their best chance to win the West and hand it to what would be a 6-6 Fresno State team. A 6-6 Fresno State team that lost to UNLV last month. Necessity, Senior Night and home cold advantage says that won’t happen. Wolf Pack 35, Fresno State 24.

  • Basketball season has all but snuck up on me, and I should probably mention now that I only have a partial season ticket plan this year instead of my usual full slate. Like a lot of us, I don’t really know what to expect from this team, and think their being picked to finish eighth out of eleven Mountain West teams is probably about right. Couple that with an underwhelming home schedule, along with the amount of time I spent at Lawlor last year quietly cursing with my head in my hands, and I don’t think I’m alone in my decision. We’re one exhibition and two games into the season and the Pack have looked…OK. Not awful, not great, just OK. I liked what I saw in the second half of the season opener against Cal Poly, particularly the even scoring distribution and the emergence of D.J. Fenner and Marqueze Coleman as offensive threats. A.J. West is already on pace for a monster season, and being granted an extra year of eligibility is all kinds of great news. I didn’t care as much for the Adams State performance, of course, though that same team gave New Mexico fits earlier this month, so the cutting of a little slack is probably in order. The crowd and atmosphere at Lawlor still need a total overhaul — particularly the student section — but we already knew that. Next up is a tournament in the Virgin Islands, with Friday’s opener against a middle-tier Big East team in Seton Hall. Going three for three is asking too much, so I’d call fewer turnovers and two wins out of three a successful trip.

The Beer

Firestone Walker Opal Saison (Paso Robles, CA) — In a region of California’s Central Coast still primarily known for its wines, Firestone Walker stands out, both for their highly decorated beers and the process some of them go through before they’re even bottled. The brewery was one of the first of its kind to age a few of its beers in oak barrels, not unlike the wines whose vineyards they now share the city of Paso Robles with. The saison style of this week’s beer originated in the French-speaking Wallonia region of Belgium, where it was traditionally brewed in the winter months for farmhands to enjoy in the spring and summer after their work days (on a related note, raise a glass to our site publisher Neil Henderson, both for the work he puts in every week and for encouraging Yours Truly to drink on the job). Opal pours out of its 22-ounce glass with a very thick head that takes a few sips to neutralize, the color straw yellow and slightly hazy. Speaking of straw, there’s a little bit of farmhouse hay in the smell (without the accompanying farm animals, thankfully), and the taste has lemon grass, grapefruit, peppery yeast, spices and some interesting white wine notes imparted from the barrel aging. The whole experience is dry, but robust, and there are a lot of different things going on which will take several sips to notice. If all of that sounds overwhelming, it’s because it is, but in a mostly good way. This is a beer made not for casually sipping at a barbecue or tailgate, but for a wholly different get-together with your beer geek friends. I give it three and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.

The Brats

Just beat Fresno. Please beat Fresno.

All fan mail (burning or otherwise), should be sent to:
Andrew Maurins
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557

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