The Wolf of Virginia Street, Week 9

For your reading consideration - The Wolf of Virginia Street, Week 9

Well…that happened!

The Bullet Points

  • And that’s really the only objectively true thing you can say about Saturday’s game. They came, they saw, they spun their wheels for a bit, they got yelled at, they came from behind, and they won...eventually. There was some truly miserable football played that day — first by Nevada, and later by Hawai’i — and by the time it was over, there was a little less of it coming from the west sideline. I’m happy they won, sure, but it’s outweighed by my relief at them NOT losing, if that makes any sense. See the 2011 game at San Jose State for further illustration of this.

  • Thankfully, some worthwhile highlights were still to be had: the 46-yard kick return that set up their first touchdown, and happened almost immediately after Don Jackson lit into his teammates, for one. Someone should consider sneaking a thumb tack onto his seat on the bench, Bart Simpson-style, for every kickoff (I nominate Brad Platt for this honor). Ian Seau built himself a second home in the Warrior backfield, putting up Nevada’s best individual defensive performance since Jorge Cordova’s legendary game against Washington in 2003. And recovering the most obvious “fake” onside kick you’ll ever see — from the opponent’s 35 — was pretty great in a Not Top 10 kinda way. Even the March From The Arch the night before had a good turnout in spite of the egg-laying of the previous week.

  • But after everything they’ve brought on themselves through eight games, it’s getting easier to reconcile that this isn’t a very good Wolf Pack team. It’s all there, clear as crystal: they’ve gone .500 against a weak schedule in a weak division of a weak conference. You are, as Bill Parcells once said, what your record says you are. And with a crowd of less than 20,000 for what should’ve been a feel-good homecoming — the first time since 2012 that attendance mark hasn’t been surpassed — fewer and fewer people are impressed. Given how much of Nevada athletics is staked on a football program with robust ticket sales, anxiety will likely be the new normal up on the hill for awhile. Keep their budget planners in your thoughts, and consider dusting off that Kickstarter campaign you drew up out of boredom one day. Or is that just me…?

  • And now it’s time for my weekly preseason “Eric Musselman Seems Pretty Rad” post. Watching him double the size of Nevada basketball’s coaching staff with essentially the same budget as his predecessor gives some fascinating additional insight into why he was hired. One: bringing in young, eager coaches who are still excited at just having gotten their foot in the proverbial door is an innovative solution to the problem of limited resources. He also did something similar in his time with the Bighorns. Two: the man is nothing short of magnetic — people clearly want, and love, the chance to work for him. While it’s unlikely many of these men will stay at Nevada beyond a season or two because of those low salaries, bringing value to these new positions benefits everyone affiliated with Wolf Pack basketball. Musselman is likely betting on-court success will make it easier to keep the more valuable staff members, in addition to enriching his own contract, which is partly tied to ticket sales. Keep on keeping on, Muss!

  • I’m getting the distinct impression my Colin Kaepernick 49er jersey will soon no longer be applicable. Probably not “immediately” soon, but in a few months time. The same dubious reports of locker room drama that preceded Jim Harbaugh's exit are starting to surface once again, and Kap is the fall guy being set up to take all of the blame. Yeah, Kap's struggles have been very real at times, but his team's problems go much deeper than just playing terribly against Seattle. At this point, if being the scapegoat means getting away from West Coast Dan Snyder and into a franchise with a plan to better utilize his skills and experience, I’m OK with that.

The Beer

Stone 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck Double IPA (Escondido, California) ~ Having no opponent affords me some freedom here this week. I’m off to San Diego for the weekend, and I happened to have this little Sheila in my fridge, so I put two and two together. The latest in their series of Anniversary double IPAs is made with four different varietals of hops and a malt all hailing from Australia — hence, “Thunderstruck.” In the crowded San Diego craft beer scene, Stone is one of the undisputed kings, and hops are to Stone what offense is to Chris Aunt: it’s just what they do. The beer poured a golden yellow-orange with a head that took some time to form, but ended fairly thick. Smells of tropical fruit and dank pine dominated up front, and the taste ran the gamut from pineapple to citrus to peach to malt to pepper. Lightly sticky hop bitterness lasted throughout its medium palate, but still finished dry. Those Australian hops and malt made for an unfamiliar but terrific experience singular among double IPAs. Not drinking this closer to its bottling date of early August was a serious misstep on my part, as this could’ve easily ended up as the best beer I’ve tried this season. Simply put, Stone does IPAs, and they do them well. I give it four tipsy Wolfies out of five, with the caveat that it could’ve (should’ve?) scored higher were it not for my own lack of eagerness. Lesson learned.

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