The Wolf of Virginia Street, Week 2

For your reading consideration - The Wolf of Virginia Street, Week 2

It’s the end of the offseason (officially) and I feel fine.

The Bullet Points

  • And wouldn’t you know it? “Fine” is the perfectly applicable word to describe Nevada’s season-opening home win over UC Davis. The offense was fine — crisp and efficient in the first half, with some struggles in the second half as Nick Rolovich tinkered with different combinations of players, and no turnovers. The defense was also fine — no turnovers of their own, but also limiting the Aggies to three points until they did some second half tinkering of their own. And special teams? Equally fine, with no big returns allowed, all PATs and the field goal accounted for, no turnovers and a great first punt return for Drew Celis. It was pretty clear after the first two scoring drives who the better team was, and Nevada had an acceptably vanilla game plan to keep UC Davis at arm’s length the rest of the way without revealing too much for Arizona. Chris Murray gave the team B’s all around in his take on the game, and that seems about right. So why, then, did boredom seem like the prevailing sentiment in the crowd for much of the night?

  • I think the reasoning behind scheduling an opponent like the Aggies has become a victim of its own success. True, giving Tyler Stewart a manageable team to cut his teeth on before plunging into the Arizona/Texas A&M gauntlet is prudent, and puts the team in a much better position to succeed than starting off with the Wildcats would have. But those very reasons are also why Thursday night’s game was so hard to watch at times: the outcome never being in serious doubt, the sedate and underwhelming announced attendance (more on that in a minute), the feeling that Nevada was doing just enough of what they had to do and nothing more. As scary as it would’ve been to start the season with Arizona in town, how much more exciting would it have been than playing FCS Team Over the Hill? I won’t go so far as to call for a total end to the FCS tune-up game — just to scale them back. Maybe every other year instead of every year. And going to the other extreme of opening every season against a Pac-12 team would make equally little sense (at least until Nevada can start beating those teams with some regularity). Maybe a series with an American or Conference USA team in Texas — programs in similar circumstances looking for middle ground games of their own? Continue to schedule smart while also reaching a little higher up the ladder. I know it’s easy for Yours Truly, Keyboard Warrior to make these suggestions as if Doug Knuth hasn’t already thought of them, so what say my readers?

  • One last note on the UC Davis game: those of you who clambered to have the season opening game moved to Thursday night got your wish, and the athletic department’s bottom line suffered for it. The announced attendance of 21,483 was in the bottom third of the Mountain West for the weekend, and the actual attendance was probably a little less than that. The last time UC Davis played in Reno was on a Saturday, and the attendance was just over 27,000. They tried it your way this year, and I’m betting the AD would like next year’s season opener to stay on the weekend.

  • The big stories heading into Week 2’s rumble with the Wildcats have been Arizona’s surprising difficulties in beating a rebuilding UTSA team last week and All-American linebacker/All-Ridiculously-Named dude Scooby Wright III having to sit out the game with a torn meniscus. As tempting as it is to really pound that silver and blue Kool-Aid, I’m still thinking Nevada won’t have quite enough to neuter the ‘Cats. Which is a shame, both because they’ll be the last power conference team to grace Mackay for a few years, and because a win would do immense good for the program. I’ll compare my preseason score predictions with actual results come December, but my slightly revised, week-of prediction is Arizona 36, Nevada 31.

  • Nevada basketball’s complete schedule was finally released on Tuesday, and it definitely has a “we did the best we could under the circumstances” vibe, with only fourteen regular season home games. A deceptively stout tournament in Hawai’i gives way to one more road game (two trips to Pacific in back-to-back years?) before the home opener is played nearly two weeks later. With most of these games having been agreed to by the previous coaching staff, look for next year’s slate to be a good deal better, depending on just how much voodoo Eric Musselman can work with this year’s team.

The Beer

Lake Tahoe Wayfare Belgian White Ale (Carson City, NV) ~ With no Arizona beers turning up in any of my usual haunts and a nationally ranked opponent visiting Mackay on Saturday night, why NOT do a local beer this week? And why not make it a white ale for the annual Whiteout game? More specifically, Wayfare is a witbier, which literally means “white beer” in Dutch. The name is derived from suspended yeast particles lending a hazy, white-ish appearance to the finished product. But oddly enough, this particular beer’s thin, straw-yellow complexion isn’t all that hazy. Ingredients commonly found in witbiers include orange peel and coriander, and Wayfare follows this trend while adding a little bit of chamomile. The overall taste is bright, citrusy, sweet and relaxing — the kind of beer your tea-drinking hippie friend might make for you if they ever took a brewing course. It’s a nice beer, but it also felt slightly off in some ways. The sweetness is a little cloying, and this particular can seemed to be lacking in carbonation, which didn’t help as it came closer to room temperature. It’s not quite a total recommendation from me, but it’s also not undrinkable. In addition to this and two other canned offerings available in local stores (an IPA and a smoked porter), Lake Tahoe Brewing is also starting a barrel-aging program at its Reno location set to open on 4th Street soon. So while this particular beer wasn’t a full hit with me, chances are good I’ll find something else from them to like soon enough. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five.

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