Polian visits Valley for Pack talk
Brian Polian wasted no time getting to the point Monday afternoon when he addressed the University of Nevada Quarterback Club Luncheon at the Carson Valley Inn.
That is, the Wolf Pack’s first-year coach went directly to the Wolf Pack’s 51-44 Mountain West overtime loss at San Diego State. Nevada dropped to 3-3 headed into its bye week, which was described as a “time for reflection” by Polian.
“I’ll be very honest with you,” he told the luncheon gathering in the Valley Ballroom. “I have a rule to never celebrate a win for more than 24 hours and never mourn a loss for more than 24 hours, and I’m struggling with my own rule right now because looking back on the film, I really feel we gave that one away … and far before it got to overtime.”
Down 44-23 at the end of three quarters, the Wolf Pack rallied back to tie the score at 44 before the Aztecs won on their first possession in overtime on a 13-yard pass from Quinn Kaehler to Eric Judge.
“There were too many self-inflicted wounds to make that a deserving win had we found a way to pull it out,” Polian said. “I will say this, there are no medals for trying and there are no moral victories, but I do think we need to recognize that down 21 points going into the fourth quarter, we gave ourselves a chance to win the game.
“We’ve been living dangerously, and you can’t make a living coming back in the last six minutes of games like we’ve done the last couple of weeks,” he added, referring to the Wolf Pack’s come-from-behind 45-42 win the previous week against Air Force at Mackay Stadium.
Now, Polian noted the Pack’s bye week will be used to recover and get healthy after tough back-to-back games, in addition to getting “back to basics in terms of practice fundamentals.” Oh, and there is the matter of preparing for an Oct. 19 game at Boise State.
“Frankly, we need to take advantage of this bye week in terms of getting an extra week’s preparation for Boise State because clearly they are an upper echelon program not only in our conference but nationally,” Polian said.
The coaching staff will also take advantage of the bye to do some recruiting.
“Most of our staff will be on the road Thursday and Friday seeing prospects that are committed to us,” Polian said. “And guys we took a wait-and-see approach on, we want to see them as seniors.”
Polian indicated he will personally spend the weekend watching prospects closer to home in Northern Nevada.
“I need to be out and be visible, especially in our local community,” he said. “I need to go see the prospects here in Northern Nevada and make sure we’re doing our due diligence at home first.”
Whether he is looking for recruits or current players, Polian was adamant about meeting high standards and accountability — on the field and off.
“What I’m learning about this team, the guys that we can count on when they’re on the field are the same ones we can count on socially and in the classroom,” he said. “We are going to hold this entire team from top to bottom, including the staff, to a level of expectations. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now, a little bit of self reflection to figure out who we can count on to do the right thing. And you will see, when we play Boise, there will be some personnel changes. Despite what people may think, it doesn’t matter what somebody did before we got here, the bottom line is, they’re either going to do it right or they’re not going to be out there.”
Polian answered questions from the audience, among those being what can be done with the Wolf Pack’s new Tampa-2 defense to apply more pressure on the quarterback than was seen Friday at San Diego State.
“We do need to generate more pressure,” Polian replied. “In order for this thing to work, we’ve got to be able to pressure with four and not have to bring five, six or seven to heat up the quarterback. One of the sources of my frustration right now is our inability to rush the passer, especially against what I thought was an offensive line that matched up well for us and for a quarterback, at least in our opinion, who didn’t handle pressure very well. We let him sit back there and look like Peyton Manning.”
When showing film from Friday night, Polian made a point to point out both the good and bad plays.
“It’s easy to show you all the good plays,” he explained. “I’m going to show you some of the bad, too, and show you why it happened and what we need to work on in order to make sure these things don’t happen And there are about 25 plays that if one guy does his job instead of taking the easy way out, the result of that game could be a whole lot different.”
Polian even shared a light moment with the audience while accepting some of the responsibility for Friday’s outcome.
“I am keenly aware I got a 15-yard penalty, I apologize for my choice words I apologize that ESPN decided to put about four cameras on me at the same time,” he said, drawing a round of chuckles. “What I will not apologize for is my passion for this team or for my passion for my job. I need to do a better job of expressing. So, like I told the guys, you make a mistake, you learn from it, and you move on from it.”