Football: Nady to get first career start in place of Haley
Not all of the news from Friday night’s 52-31 victory over the California Golden Bears was good for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Starting offensive tackle Steve Haley broke his arm during the victory and will be lost for at least four weeks.
“It could be longer,” Pack head coach Chris Ault said. “We’ll see.”
The injury to Haley breaks up an offensive line (Haley and Jose Acuna at tackle, John Bender and Chris Barker at guard and Jeff Meads at center) that had allowed just one sack in three games this season. The Pack offense is also third in the nation overall in total yards (560.3 yards a game), fifth in rushing (302 per game) and fourth in scoring (50.7 points a game).
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Haley became a starter for the final eight games of the 2009 season when Mike Gallett was suspended for the remainder of the year.
Douglas High graduate Jeff Nady, who stepped in for Haley against Cal, will get his first career start this Saturday when the Wolf Pack (3-0) takes on Brigham Young (1-2) in Provo, Utah.
The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Nady red-shirted his first season at Nevada in 2008 and played three games without a start in 2009. He has played all three games this year in a backup role.
“When you have a man go down, the next guy picks up the flag and takes over,” Ault said. “That’s what happened (against Cal). The older guys rallied around Jeff and he did a nice job. I was proud of him.”
Ault said Haley’s injury hurts the Pack’s depth along the offensive line.
“Joel Bitonio, a redshirt freshman, now has to play,” Ault said. “It (Haley’s injury) hurts our depth a lot. But we’ve overcome things like this before, like last year when Gallett left and Alonzo Durham got hurt (he missed one game). The next guy has to pick it up.”
Haley’s injury means that just two starters from a year ago — (Bender and Barker) are currently starting. Acuna played in just six games with one start a year ago and Meads played in just five games in a reserve role.
KAEPERNICK KEEPS PILING UP THE HONORS: Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick was named the Western Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week by both the WAC and Rivals.com.
Kaepernick accounted for 329 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in the win over California. The 6-foot-6 right-hander completed 10-of-15 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 148 yards and three scores.
This is the second consecutive week that Kaepernick has won the Rivals.com WAC Player of the Week award and the seventh time he has won the WAC Offensive Player of the Week award in his career.
Kaepernick is now 12th all-time in NCAA history in rushing yards for a quarterback at 3,275 and seventh all-time in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback at 46.
WOLF PACK CLOSE TO BREAKING TOP 25: The Wolf Pack is now ranked 26th in the USA Today Coach’s Poll and 27th in the Associated Press media poll.
The Pack received 41 votes in the Associated Press poll and 58 votes in the coach’s poll. They are one of three teams in the WAC to receive votes this week. Boise State is ranked third in the nation in both polls while Fresno State received 35 votes in the AP poll and seven votes in the USA Today poll.
This is the highest the Pack has been ranked since the end of the 2005 season, after the Pack beat Central Florida (49-48) in the Hawaii Bowl to finish 9-3. The Pack was ranked 29th in the final AP poll and 27th in the final coach’s poll that season.
“It would have been nice to be ranked (in the Top 25),” Kaepernick said. “But, to be honest, all we’re worried about is winning football games. If we continue to win, all of that other stuff will take care of itself.”
“We really don’t even think about that stuff,” Ault said.
SEASON OPENER SET THE TONE: Ault said a key moment for this Pack season took place after the 49-24 victory over Eastern Washington in the season opener on Sept. 2.
“We didn’t celebrate after that victory at all,” Ault said. “We made it very clear, and we really didn’t have to say much because everybody knew it, that we weren’t happy with that effort. Everyone in that locker room knew that if we continued to play like that, that we weren’t going to win a lot of games this year.”
The Pack is now 3-0 for the first time since the school joined Division I-A in 1992.
“I think that (the feeling after the Eastern Washington game) was a big reason why we’ve played well since,” Ault said.
BYU COULD MAKE SWITCH AT QB: BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall told the media Monday that he might make a change in starting quarterbacks this Saturday against the Pack.
Junior Riley Nelson has started all three games this year but has split time with freshman Jake Heaps. Nelson has completed 20-of-40 passes for 148 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Heaps is 30-of-60 for 550 yards, one TD and one interception.
BYU quarterbacks have also been sacked eight times this year.
“I met with the offensive staff this morning, defensive staff, special teams staff … and it is becoming more and more clear to me, kind of how and what direction we need to go. But a little premature to say at this point,” Mendenhall told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Mendenhall added that he would announce his starter on Wednesday.