Ault focusing on defense

RENO - Nevada head coach Chris Ault has spent all of his life on the offensive side of the football.

As much as he loves a high-powered offense, he is smart enough to know that defense is what Nevada needs to move up in the Western Athletic Conference and become a serious threat to perennial powerhouses Boise State, Fresno State and Hawai'i.

Ault watched his team get torn up on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 4,793 yards in 12 games (399 per game). The rush defense was ranked 108th in the nation.

"We were a bad defense," Ault said.

The veteran Nevada coach spent the off-season recruiting mainly defensive players, and Thursday at the WAC Media Day, he announced a reshuffling of coaching assignments geared toward the defensive side of the ball.

The biggest move was taking receivers coach Kim McCloud and moving him to the defensive side of the ball. McCloud will coach cornerbacks, allowing new co-defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter to focus on the safeties and developing the game plan.

"That puts five defensive coaches on the field," Ault said. "We want to emphasize it (defense)."

Coaching defense is nothing new to McCloud, who was a three-year starter at defensive back at Hawai'i. He previously coached the secondary for four years at Nevada.

Ault said the defense is much faster than last year, and he promised a more aggressive style.

With McCloud moving over to the defensive side of the ball, Ault said Scott Baumgartner, who worked with quarterbacks and the special teams last year, will take McCloud's old job. He will also continue to work with special teams, too. Baumgartner, according to Ault has some past experience working with wide receivers.

Ault, who played quarterback at Nevada from 1965-67, plans on working with the quarterbacks which is a logical move. He spent most of last season working with that group.

He has a talented quartet to work with in redshirt junior Jeff Rowe, redshirt junior Travis Moore, freshman Ben Galbraith and freshman Nick Graziano, who threw for 37 scores last year at Campolindo High School in Moraga, Calif.

Ault has said that the job is Rowe's; that his leadership skills have improved immensely over the past off-season.

"I'm proud of Jeff," Ault said. "He's stepped up and taken over leadership of the team. He has become a leader. He's a terrific athlete. Graziano is the most understated quarterback in California. All four quarterbacks are good athletes."


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