Forget the football on the field at Mackay Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Nevada Wolf Pack head coach Brian Polian was more concerned with the crowd in the stands at the annual Silver and Blue spring scrimmage.
“How about the crowd that came out today?” Polian said. “I am so thankful for the support.”
A crowd of about 5,000 fans -- roughly 1,500 more that has shown up in recent years for the final scrimmage of the spring -- watched the Blue team with the starting offense beat the Silver team with the starting defense, 20-7.
“This was a great day,” Polian said. “It was great for our kids and great for our fans to experience this.”
The actual football wasn’t all that great. The offenses combined to produce just three touchdowns. But great football wasn’t Polian’s focus as he wrapped up his first spring as the Wolf Pack head coach.
“I just really wanted it to look clean and come out of it injury-free,” Polian said.
Fajardo completed 17-of-25 passes for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He found wide receiver Richy Turner on a 20-yard scoring pass and tight end Kolby Arendse from 14 yards out.
“We kept things real vanilla,” Fajardo said. “We had a lot of simple plays.”
The afternoon, it seemed, was all about meeting the fans and setting the stage for the fall. The fans were able to get autographs and take photos with their favorite Wolf Pack players and coaches after the scrimmage.
“We just went out there and enjoyed ourselves,” Fajardo said. “As an offense we just wanted to move the ball downfield and have some fun.”
Fajardo was just 2-of-5 through the air on his first drive as the Blue team had to settle for a 48-yard field goal from Colin Ditsworth. The junior quarterback then heated up on his second drive, completing both of his passes and finishing off with the touchdown to Arendse on the right side. He also connected with running back Don Jackson for a 9-yard pass on the 28-yard drive.
The short scoring drive was set up by a fumble recovery by defensive back Nigel Haikins after a fumble by running back Chris Solomon of the White team. Fajardo’s second touchdown pass (20 yards to Turner) was also set up by a turnover when Devoreaux Stewart intercepted a deflected pass by White team quarterback Tyler Stewart.
The best play of the day by the defense, though, might have been on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line when Haikins batted away a Devin Combs pass intended for Hasaan Henderson in the back of the end zone.
“There were a lot of positives on both sides of the ball,” Polian said.
The offenses of both teams combined to rush for 237 yards and pass for 407 yards in the 116-play scrimmage.
“I’m not upset with the defense,” Polian added. “They did a lot of nice things.”
Defensive linemen Lenny Jones and Brock Hekking had sacks on consecutive plays on Fajardo’s third drive. There were a bunch of faux sacks in the scrimmage because a passing play was whistled dead and ruled a sack as soon as a defensive player got near the quarterback. Quarterbacks were off limits for the defense even on running plays.
Fajardo ran for 23 yards on nine carries. Almost all of the running plays by the other quarterbacks were either sacks or busted plays though Stewart did break free for a 6-yard gain.
None of the running backs stood out but a few of them turned in solid performances. Kendall Brock, who has switched back to running back after two seasons as a third down wide receiver, picked up 66 yards on 10 carries. Solomon had 64 yards on 16 carries and Xavier Stephens gained 57 yards ion 12 carries and scored the White team’s only touchdown on a 1-yard run.
“I’m real excited to be back at running back,” Brock said. “That’s where I feel more natural.”
“He’s real shifty and quick,” Fajardo said. “When he gets in the open field he can make a big play.”
Polian reminded everyone that Saturday was his 100th day on the job as Wolf Pack head coach.
“I took a look back and made a list of all the things that we have accomplished already in the first 100 days, from recruiting, to establishing procedure, our strength and conditioning, hiring a staff and everything else,” Polian said. “We have made a lot of ground in 100 days. It’s been pretty exciting.
“But I’m more excited about the next 100 days.”