Tormey finally ‘Packs for Seattle

So, Chris Tormey finally returns to Husky Stadium as a head coach this week – about four years later than he had originally hoped.

Nevada (2-0 WAC, 3-2) at Washington (1-1, 3-2)
Saturday, October 11 - 12:35 PM (PDT) - No TV
Husky Stadium - Seattle, WA (capacity 72,500)
Series All-time: Washington leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: November 20, 1903 - Washington 2, Nevada 0
Line: Washington by 19

Tormey – the former Husky assistant who, while still head man at Idaho, was contacted about the newly-vacant Washington job in 1999 when Jim Lambright was let go (and before Rick Neuheisel was whisked away from Colorado) – brings his WAC-leading Nevada Wolfpack into Seattle for the Huskies' final non-conference game on Saturday. And though the end result wasn't quite what he had hoped, he maintains that he was flattered by the experience.

Chris Tormey
(AP/Andrew Heilman)
"First, the Washington job isn't a job you apply for," Tormey reflected during his weekly teleconference. "I was contacted, and I was interested in it. Then I got a call on the Saturday they hired Rick, and Barbara (Hedges) told me which way they were going.

"There wasn't really much discussion, and I certainly understood. I had no hard feelings, and I was flattered for the chance to interview for the job."

Now in his fourth year on the Reno campus, Tormey is looking forward to his Seattle visit – but for more than just seeing familiar faces. "This is a good game for us to play," says Tormey, who is striving for a fourth consecutive improved season record. Seattle is a good recruiting base for us. So we're really looking forward to coming up there."

Keith Gilbertson
It's the second consecutive week that Washington coach Keith Gilbertson goes up against a former colleague – and he obviously needs a better result this time. "What you have to do is go out there for an hour and go like hell at each other," says Gilbertson, "and when it's over, remain close friends and cheer for each other."

Gilby knows that this is a dangerous time for his fragile team – witness Oregon's loss to Utah one week after blowing out to WSU – and the Husky coach avows, "We are not overlooking anybody after last Saturday. We need to get out there and prepare, practice, and coach – to get out on the field again and go."

"I'm impressed with Nevada's defensive speed. They've got a great package."

Tormey, who phoned Gilbertson when he was named the new Husky head coach – "I think he's a great fit there, and I think the Huskies are going to be in good shape for a long time with Keith Gilbertson as the head coach," he opines – is wary of Washington's mood, though his Wolfpack went to Eugene on September 6 and played Oregon tooth-and-nail. "We're a big underdog, and rightfully so," Tormey attests. "They're coming off a disappointing loss, so it's not a good time to be catching them.

"We just need to come in and focus on those things we can control. Like fundamentals and execution, on both sides of the ball. If we can do that, and keep it close, anything could happen."

And last week's second half in the Rose Bowl served Washington a giant dose of just how painful "anything" can sometimes be.

TEAM STATS:  22.6 points (4th WAC),
             358.8 yards (5th, 157.6 rush, 201.2 pass)
             13-18 in Red Zone offense (.721, 6th in WAC) 

RUSHING:     Chance Kretschmer 115-567-5 TD (4.9), long 36 
             Talib Wise 27-123-0 TD (4.1), long 19
PASSING:     Andy Heiser 55-112-4 (.491), 747 yards, 5 TD
             Jeff Rowe 22-47-3 (.468), 259 yards, 1 TD  
RECEIVING:   Nichiren Flowers 21-228-2 TD (10.9), long 27
             Willie Johnson 12-201-1 TD (16.8), long 36
             Tim Fleming 10-147-0 TD (14.7), long 32

It's an offense that has made NCAA statistical hay the past couple of years. In 2002 it was Nevada wide receiver Nate Burleson (now with the Minnesota Vikings) who led the country in receptions with 138 (for 1629 yards).

RB Chance Kretschmer
(AP/Elaine Thompson)
And in 2001, it was the Wolfpack's Chance Kretschmer, who averaged 157 yards a game to become the second freshman (Marshall Faulk did it in 1991) ever to lead the NCAA in rushing – including a 327-yard performance against Texas El-Paso. Kretschmer's sophomore season was snipped by a torn ACL suffered against BYU in game two. But the junior from Tonopah (NV) worked his way back, going over 100 yards three times so far this season. And just in time, too, as 1,000-yard rusher Matt Milton left the program after spring ball. Kretschmer banged a shoulder against UNLV while being held to 67 yards, but should be good to go here.

Replacing record-setting QB Zach Threadgill has been no easy chore for the Wolfpack braintrust, and for a while junior Andy Heiser and sophomore Jeff Rowe were exchanging game-to-game (and even series-to-series), depending on who had the hot hand. But Rowe – in a substitute role – separated his shoulder on Nevada's final drive against the Rebels, leaving the job in Heiser's hands for probably the remainder of the year. Heiser had 340 yards of total offense and figured in three touchdowns in his starting debut against San Jose State - after taking the reins from Rowe in the second quarter of Nevada's 31-23 loss at Autzen. Redshirt-freshman Travis Moore will be Heiser's backup, and he has yet to take a snap in game conditions.

QB Jeff Rowe
(AP/Rick Bowmer)
Nevada runs almost exclusively single-back, and will spread the wealth among a bevy of receivers, led by sophomore Nichiren Flowers and senior Tim Fleming. Flowers has six career touchdowns, and JuCo all-American Willie Johnson made a memorable Division 1-A debut against Southern Utah, catching six balls for 132 yards and a score. Senior receiver Maurice Mann had to sit out a mandated four-game suspension for a benefits violation, but returned against UNLV and could start on Saturday.

The Wolfpack offensive line is known as "The Union", and are led by seniors Alan Parker and Isaiah Ross, and junior co-captain Harvey Dahl, who is one of the top tackles in the WAC. The Union has only allowed five sacks all season.

GAME OUTLOOK: With only one QB with game experience and a youthful receiving corps that's had its share of drops, it wouldn't surprise if Tormey went a bit conservative here – especially since his defense has come up pretty big for three straight weeks. But that could be just what a ticked off Husky defense needs. Mann re-entering the fray will surely help a nicked-up Wolfpack.

TEAM STATS:     21.8 points (2nd WAC),
                341.4 yards (2nd, 134.8 rush, 206.6 pass)
                11-14 in Red Zone defense (.786, 4th in WAC) 

TACKLES/TFL:    Jorge Cordova 47/8.5
                Nick Hawthorne 39/1.5
                Logan Carter 37/2.5

PASSES DEF/INT: Nick Hawthorne 6/2
                Logan Carter 4/3 
                Shaun Tagatauli 3/0
SACKS:          Jorge Cordova 5.5
                Derek Kennard 5.5
                Daryl Towns 1.0

A bludgeoning issue with the Washington defensive front has been their inability to crash down from the end. That hasn't been a problem for the Wolfpack defense.

Seventeen sacks rest on the Nevada mantle, which leads the Western Athletic Conference - eleven of them coming from the tandem of DE Jorge Cordova and bull-rushing tackle Derek Kennard. Cordova is a sack machine – he has 24 in his career – while Kennard, whose father Derek Sr. was an NFL pro-bowler and was named to Nevada's all-Century team, leads the WAC in tackles-for-loss with eight. Sophomore J.J. Milan, who made five starts as a true freshman, marks his 11th-straight start on the other end.

ILB Logan Carter
(AP/Greg Wahl-Stephens)
Sophomore ILB Logan Carter has two defensive touchdowns already – one a fumble recovery in the end-zone and one on a 40-yard interception return. Carter has been named WAC defensive Player-of-the-Week twice this season, and has three career INTs and ten career TFLs. The middle linebacker should ring a familiar tune with Husky fans – Daryl Towns, cousin of former Husky linebacker Lester Towns. The fourth-year senior from Pasadena has had a hand in 262 tackles during his career. WHIP ‘backer Shaun Tagatauli broke up three passes last week against UNLV in his first start, though senior co-captain Carl LaGrone and his 152 career stops will see plenty of time.

Sophomore corner Chris Handy takes over for Leondre Lewis, who sprained a knee against UNLV and will miss at least a month. Redshirt-freshman rover Nick Hawthorne and junior free safety Keone Kauo combined for an amazing 27 tackles against the Rebels – Hawthorne is the Wolfpack's second-leading tackler with 39 stops. Sophomore corner Randy Landingham will play some nickel, plus return kickoffs. Landingham transferred from Nebraska after the 2001 season, and twin brother Rodney followed a year later from Oregon State. Rodney becomes eligible in 2004.

GAME OUTLOOK: Washington had better be careful; this Wolfpack line is no slouch. Nevada is a plus-two in turnovers, and is second in their conference in rushing defense and total defense. They've also committed the least amount of penalties in the WAC, and have only allowed two rushing touchdowns. Still, it might be best to just pound it from the get-go, allowing a beleaguered offensive line to find itself again.

PLACEKICKING:  Damon Fine 7-10 FG (long 53), 8-13 XP
PUNTING:       Derek Jones 32-39.0 (long 56), .281 inside the 20
KICK RETURNS:  Dell McGee 4-23.8 (long 29), 0 TD
               Paul Pratt 4-16.8 (long 20), 0 TD
PUNT RETURNS:  Nichiren Flowers 6-9.5 (long 29), 0 TD

For the organization coach Tormey brings to Nevada, his special teams haven't exactly been special this year.

Junior place-kicker Damon Fine has missed an alarming five extra-points in five games – and eleven in his career - though he did hit a 28-yard game-winner with a minute to go against SMU. Fine boomed a 58-yard field goal against UNLV in 2001, and kicked five three-pointers that same season against Rice, so he does have the leg. Punter Derek Jones had a season-high 11 punts against the Rebels, and his inside-the-20 average is good at almost 30 percent, though his net is only 33 yards per boot. Nevada only averages 19 yards per kick return (which these days, Washington would gladly take), and a paltry 5.8 yards per punt return.

GAME OUTLOOK: It shouldn't have to come down to the special teams. But if it does, it should be noted that Evan Knudsen's third FG against UCLA was a howitzer – it could be a coming out for him. Otherwise, neither team has shown much pizzazz in the discipline. So it only figures that one of them could break here.

How do we match-up against the NEVADA Wolf Pack ?
Category NEVADA Wolf Pack UW HuskiesNational LeaderPac-10 Leader
157.6 52 NA 135 78 5 NAVY 308.2 OSU 190.33
201.2 71 NA 266.6 29 4 TEXTECH 516.8 ORE 290.33
358.8 74 NA 401.6 44 4 TEXTECH 591.2 OSU 473.17
22.6 78 NA 27.2 52 6 TEXTECH 45.8 USC 37.4
134.8 54 NA 122 36 7 OHIOST 43.4 STAN 56.33
Pass Eff.
115.38 50 NA 105.01 26 5 NEB 79.6 OSU 88.22
341.4 49 NA 303 20 2 NEB 218.6 UCLA 294
21.8 52 NA 23.6 60 6 FSU 7.4 WSU 15.17
33.88 94 NA 38.86 24 4 TENN 44.33 USC 44.04
5.78 103 NA 9.31 52 4 MIAMI 18.46 CAL 14.8
19.93 73 NA 16 110 9 CLEM 29.15 STAN 26.29
0.4 43 NA -0.6 86 9 WSU 2.17 WSU 2.17
206.6 55 NA 181 25 1 TEXAS 110 UW 181
105.19 93 NA 124.59 64 5 TEXTECH 169.22 WSU 137.75

KIBBLES AND BITS: This will also be a homecoming for former Husky receiver D.J. McCarthy (now Nevada's receiver coach) and 1991 Washington grad assistant (and current Nevada defensive coordinator) Jeff Mills. And where on earth HASN'T current Wolfpack DB coach (and Snohomish resident) Denny Shuler hung his coaching sheepskin? ... When the two schools first/last met in 1903, Nevada was known as the Sagebrushers, and Washington didn't even have a nickname (the "Sun Dodgers" didn't come into being until the Gil Dobie era). Both schools established their permanent mascots in 1922 ... In Nevada's win over San Jose State earlier this year, Spartan Josh Parry made a successful return to the field after a three-year absence. Parry, whose devastating injury in 2000 forced the amputation of his right leg below the knee, came onto the field in the fourth quarter after the Wolfpack were forced to punt for the first time in the game. He sprinted downfield just fine, but couldn't find anyone to block. Parry is believed to be the first non-kicker ever to hit the NCAA gridiron with a prosthetic limb . . . "How the Mighty have Fallen", Southern Chapter: With their loss to Ole Miss, Florida dropped consective SEC home contests for the first time in 14 years ... Texas Tech's B.J. Symons has thrown for 1,752 yards and 17 TDs in the last three games. Somehow, the Red Raiders could only win two of them ... End of an era? Idaho and Montana have (for them) a pretty storied 83-year football rivalry. With the latest NCAA mandate requiring at least five Division 1-A home games for all participating schools - plus Idaho's need for that big-time road money - the Vandals will no longer able to schedule the 1-AA Grizzlies in the Kibbie Dome ... Top Stories