SAN JOSE, Calif. - Ask any Nevada football player about the Wolf Pack's nine-game road losing streak, and they give you a perplexed stare.
"I just don't know if I understand it either," Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe said. "We always seem to have big mistakes on the road; a fumble or an interception."
"Maybe it's a lack of focus when we are on the road," said tackle Adam Kiefer. "Maybe we're not ready to start the game. Last week (against Colorado State) we started way too slow."
Nevada would love to see that streak end today (4:05 p.m. ABC-TV) when the Pack visit San Jose State in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
The last time a Pack team won on the road was Oct. 18, 2003 when Nevada edged Tulsa 28-21. Nevada lost its last two road games in 2003 after the Tulsa win, went 0-6 in 2004 and has lost its only road game this season.
"Just watching Nevada, I think they do a lot of things really, really well," SJSU head coach Dick Tomey said. "They're not unlike ourselves. They have had moments in their first three games when they've played very well. But, they have played more consistently well than we have.
"We're excited to get into conference action. It gives everybody a chance to start over. Obviously, Nevada beat the daylights out of us last year, so we're anxious to get a chance to play them at home."
Nevada coach Chris Ault has gotten decent production from his offense, but he's been upset with the Pack's run defense and special teams.
"It will be a tough contest," Ault said. "It will be a very interesting game for us. San Jose State is playing well.
"Our offense is fine. It's a combination of other things. The running game we're pleased with. It picked up in the second half last week, and was probably the best we've done all season."
Ault said that freshman nose tackle Nate Agaiava would see some action, and that Josh Magua could make his first start of the year at outside linebacker.
Linebacker Roosevelt Cooks and Tim DeRuyter, co-defensive coordinator, talked a lot this week about gap integrity, and not getting caught out of position. The Pack gave up six yards a carry against Colorado State, and Ault doesn't want to see a repeat of that today.
Nevada will see Adam Tafralis at quarterback. Apparently he played well enough to keep his job this week, though Nevada could see true freshman Chad Bozzo if Tafralis falters.
"Both played (last week)," DeRuyter said. "One throws better and the other is a dangerous runner."
Tafralis has completed 52 percent of his passes for 417 yards and two scores, and Bozzo has completed 39 percent of his throws for 155 yards and a single score. Both average 4.5 per carry on the ground.
Yonus Davis (115 yards) and Patrick Perry (68 yards) are the leading runners for the Spartans, who boast the dangerous Rufus Skillern (11 catches, 195 yards) at wide receiver.
"He (Skillern) is dangerous," DeRuyter said. "He can go."
San Jose struggled last week against San Diego State, going 0 for 17 on third-down attempts. The Spartans converted all four fourth-down attempts.
"We continue to not be consistent enough at quarterback," Tomey said. "We were 0 for 17 and that is a horrendous number. That means we weren't making enough yards on first or second down. We had too many third and longs."
Ault wants to clean up the special teams, especially kickoff returns. Expect to see wide receivers Kyle Sammons and Mike McCoy back there. DeAngelo Wilson had a fumble last week, and Kevin Stanley had a fumble on a punt return against UNLV that cost the Pack a score.
Nevada faces a defense that has racked up 12 sacks, including three by defensive end Justin James, two by defensive end Jarron Gilbert and two by linebacker Eric Wilson.
Rowe has thrown for 808 yards and four scores thus far. He completed 23 of 34 for 324 yards and three scores. He threw two interceptions, but one Ault blamed on the wide receiver because of a poor route.
Speaking of wide receivers, Nichiren Flowers missed two days of practice this week with a pulled groin, which could open the door for true freshman Jack Darlington to start in his spot. Darlington has four catches for 69 yards, including a 30-yard TD last week against Colorado State. Sammons had a huge game against CSU, catching seven balls for 103 yards. If Flowers doesn't play, look for the Spartans to pay more attention to Caleb Spencer (22 catches, 303 yards).
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281