Norvell explains Wolf Pack vision
Jay Norvell spoke on Tuesday night about how the University of Nevada football program has progressed in his first full year as head coach.
That means steps forward that have taken place on and off the field. It’s been a process, Norvell explained to his audience during the Nevada Coaches’ Caravan stop at the Carson Valley Inn.
“We’ve got a picture of what we want to look like when we walk onto the field, and I want to be the best at every position in our conference,” Norvell said.
Development of talent already in the program and recruitment of new talent to upgrade the starting lineup and depth chart has been the objective. That has included not only scholarship players, but the addition of walk-on players such as offensive lineman Austin Corbett, who walked on from Reed High School in Sparks, worked his way into the starting lineup and a scholarship, and more recently was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the NFL draft’s second round.
“There are guys like Austin Corbett who walk on, maybe they developed a little bit late, but they have the right mentality, right work ethic and right character, and those kids get better … and sometimes they get bigger,” Norvell said. “The walk-on is such an important part of our program and we’ve got some good ones this year from within the state. The rule was changed just this year, but if a kid comes in and proves himself, we can put him on scholarship the next year.”
Reagan Roberson and Dawson Coman, 2017 Douglas High School graduates, participated in spring drills and played in the Silver & Blue Game last month at Mackay Stadium in Reno. Roberson started on special teams as a true freshman last fall and had one reception, a 23-yard reception on a fake field goal that set up a touchdown against Colorado State.
Norvell also emphasized the importance of teams not beating themselves.
“I believe that coaching handles penalties and turnovers,” he said. “We were one of the least penalized teams in the conference last year and that comes from the way we practice. That is so important. We want a team of players that don’t yell at officials. That’s not part of what we accept.
“And the other part is that is, we want a team that plays as hard as possible for each other.”
Norvell went on to explain how another of his goals was achieved to transfer leadership of the team from the coaching staff to the players.
“One of the things we did was start a leadership council and that has been one of the most awesome things I’ve ever really done in coaching,” he said. “What we did was meet for 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and read this book together called ‘Legacy.’ It’s about the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team, one of the greatest teams in professional sports, and it talks about their culture and the things they do that are important as a team.”
They expect a place — whether it’s the team bus or locker room — to look better when they leave than it did when they arrived, he continued.
“The old saying is, ‘You can’t have team discipline unless you have personal discipline,’” Norvell said. “Those were the kinds of lessons that were in this book.”
Part of that vision Norvell has for the Wolf Pack football team is to play as a unit. He drove home that point with a reference to one of football’s coaching legends.
“Vince Lombardi coached 65, 70 years ago and the things he said are still so true today,” Norvell noted. “He said, ‘The challenge of every team is getting everybody to work with a feeling of oneness where everybody works together.’ It’s so simple and we’ve worked really hard to get our kids that way, and we’ve made a tremendous amount of improvement.”