Spring Football Scrimmage Report for April 12

In year one of his tenure, Nevada Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian made a point to get the Northern Nevada community behind the football program. Now in his second year, Polian is continuing that trend with two open to the public practices at local high schools.

Saturday April 12th was the first such of those practices at Carson High. The practice began with position specific drills and concluded with about an hour and ten minutes of scrimmaging with the first string offense taking on the first string defense, the second team offense versus second team defense, and so on. Here are a few notes from the first open practice.

Running Back Depth
The Wolf Pack only had four tailbacks taking carries in both the drills and scrimmages. Only two of them have experience carrying the ball in a D-I football game in Kendall Brock and Don Jackson. The dismissal during the offseason of Chris Solomon, who was third on the depth chart last year, really hurts the depth in spring. The running backs struggled during the scrimmage with only one long gain from Don Jackson, and roughly five fumbles from numerous different backs, including Brock on the very first play. Hopefully help arrives in the fall, in the form of ready to play freshman that can improve the depth at the position.

Defensive Line Impressive
It was hard to tell whether the defensive line played well or the offensive line played poorly. In all honesty it was likely a combination of them both. Numerous offensive linemen who will see playing time in 2014 have been sitting out to nurse nagging injuries so the offensive line was not at 100% strength. The defensive line though cant help who is healthy on the other side of the ball, they just compete with whoever is lining up against them. And they did their job. Senior Brock Hekking was getting to the quarterback, and would have had multiple sacks had he not slowed down to avoid hitting the quarterback. Defensive tackles Jordan Hanson and Rykeem Yates were both able to slow down the run game of the Nevada offense. Defensive end Lenny Jones batted down a couple balls running with the second string defense. This unit will be a strength of the team in 2014 as shown in the first practice.

Backup QB Battle
Wolf Pack starting quarterback Cody Fajardo is arguably the best returning player at his position in the Mountain West. But Fajardo has had some injury issues during his time in the silver and blue. Especially last year. That makes the backup quarterback very important to this year's team. Tyler Stewart and Dante Mayes will both be competing to be number two on the depth chart. Today Stewart was playing with the second string and Mayes was playing with the third string, but Mayes looked a lot better. Stewart had numerous over throws in 7 on 7, and had issues completing passes in live action, even throwing an interception to defensive back Nigel Haikins. Mayes on the other had looked composed and ready to play with the second string. It is important to remember that this was only one practice, so who knows what Stewart has done to separate himself in other practices. One of these quarterbacks needs to step up in case of a Fajardo injury.

Henderson To Next Level
Last year, freshman receiver Hasaan Henderson burst onto the seen with break out performances against Fresno State and Colorado State. With the departure of Brandon Wimberly, the Wolf Pack will need someone to step up. If the first practice was any sign, Henderson will be that guy. Henderson had a 65-yard touchdown on the most impressive play of the day. He also made numerous other catches and put pressure of the defensive backfield. Look for Richy Turner to be ole reliable on the team, with Henderson being both the big play guy as well as a strong possession receiver. One surprise receiver to look out for will be the speedy D'Andre Fuller who got behind the safeties a couple of times, but was either not targeted, or on one occasion missed a difficult catch.

Keegan Bosier can be reached via Twitter.

Mark Rauh can be reached at RauhPhotography.com

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