The Wolf of Virginia Street ~ Week 8

Dreading football and praying for basketball -- so this is what it's like to be a Rebel fan most years? Man, this is awful.

The Bullet Points

  • If Nevada had managed to pull out a win at San Jose State on Saturday night, I more or less had a theme picked for this week’s column: hurdling the bar of lowered expectations. But instead, we got a continuation of what has become the real theme for this football season: finding newer and progressively awful ways to squirm underneath that same bar. Nevada trailed, pulled ahead of, and then promptly lost to the Spartans 14-10 in front of maybe a thousand fans on Saturday night. It was an intolerable pillow fight that couldn’t live up to the expectations of even the most pessimistic of Wolf Pack fans. Scraping together a mere 257 yards of offense — only 71 yards in the likely event your name wasn’t James Butler — would’ve spelled certain doom for most any team. And yet, even that turrible display was almost good enough to eke out a “victory.” The whole display for both teams made the CBS Sports Network’s use of its parent company’s theme music for SEC telecasts seem like a cruel joke. And knowing the defense and special teams weren’t “that bad” isn’t small comfort so much as it's infinitesimal (sub-atomic?) comfort. Tim Cramsey’s offense continued to have absolutely no resemblance to the dynamic, balanced attack we were promised. And when coupled with Nick Rolovich’s struggles before him, the answer to where the blame for the unit’s performance lies is becoming increasingly clear. This is Brian Polian’s Nevada, and right now, they’re arguably one of the 20 worst college football teams in America.

  • Saturday’s loss wasn’t just another low point of Brian Polian’s head coaching career. It was THE low point of his head coaching career. Along with continuing the Pack’s string of futility in road games, it was the Spartans’ first win against an FBS opponent this year, and the fewest points they’ve held an opponent to in five seasons. Just let that simmer for a bit: Nevada barely reached double digits in points against a team that hadn’t allowed fewer than 34 of them in a game this season. Even Portland State dropped 35 points on the Spartans. If the Hawai’i loss was the plane crashing into the mountain, this loss was the helicopter full of survivors being gusted out to sea and drowned in a storm. It was the depressing coda on the “easy” portion of Nevada’s schedule, leaving me to wonder just what fresh hell awaits us in the next five games. In those first seven, Nevada went 2-4 against FBS teams with 12 wins and 28 losses currently between them (I’m not counting Cal Poly in those wins, because why, frankly, should I?). Do the Pack look like a team capable of finally, magically putting things together? What have they showed in any of their first seven games that makes you believe they can beat Wyoming, San Diego State or (gag) UNLV? For all of Polian’s repeated talk about these losses being “on him,” it’s been nothing but lip service and excuses. This season is now in free-fall, and next year’s slate is looking genuinely daunting, both outside and inside of conference play. Purdue just fired Darrell Hazell in the middle of their season. The most important question now facing Nevada athletics is what Doug Knuth is prepared to do for his football program.

  • If your first impulse is to batten down the hatches in preparation for another defeat this week, stay true to that feeling. A year after almost sinking Nevada’s entire previous season, Wyoming comes to town with a chance to do it for real this time. Just like you’d expect from a former North Dakota State head coach, Craig Bohl has the Cowboys gradually moving up in the college football world. Wyoming doesn’t have stats that really jump out at you — their total defense ranks right behind Nevada’s, in fact — yet they currently sit at a decent 4-2 while Nevada is a puffed up 3-4. They’re a thoroughly OK football team, but considering where they were before, that’s tangible progress we would kill for around these parts. They boast the Mountain West’s second-leading rusher in Brian Hill, and a great deal more justifiable confidence than their next opponent. Things are in a bad state for the Pack when their best chance of springing the upset is to hope Wyoming is looking ahead to Boise State the following week. In the interest of full disclosure, I won’t be at this week’s game. Instead, I’ll be in San Francisco for a wedding, and hopefully in a much better mood than Brian Polian will likely be, come Saturday night. Answer our prayers for great basketball, Muss! Pre-season prediction: Nevada 42, Wyoming 21. New prediction: Wyoming 38, Nevada 17.

The Beer

Under the Rose berlinerbeer European-style Sour Ale (Reno, Nevada) ~ It’s Homecoming Week, so I had to go with a local offering. And because this football season has already soured — making Yours Truly a very sour columnist — this choice practically made itself. Brewed and bottled on 4th Street, it takes its name from the Berliner Weisse style that originated in northern Germany some time in the 16th century. It poured a bright, clear golden straw color from its bottle with hardly any carbonation, which initially made me worry. Then, the faint lemon and wheat smells gave way to a mildly tart, slightly acidic taste that lasted all the way through each refreshing sip. Its body was incredibly light, and never felt overpowering or unpleasant. If you’re more partial to aggressively face-puckering sours, it may not meet your needs, but I enjoyed it. It’s consistent with UTR’s general style of lower alcohol session beers you can enjoy with company for a few hours. With all of that said, it’s probably better suited for hot weather drinking; at only 4.2% ABV, you can knock back a bottle while doing some yard work with no worries. I give it three and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.

All fan mail (burning or otherwise) can be sent to:

Andrew Maurins
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557

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