The Bobcats start their fifth week of the regular season with a winning record (2-1) after beating Stephen F. Austin 41-37 for their sixth straight victory over the Lumberjacks.
The players and coaches are preparing for their game with The University of Nevada, Reno this weekend the same way they would any week. However, the program coming to town has almost as much prestige as Texas Tech and possibly more than Houston.
“This is a very good football team,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “We are not dropping off any with the team we are playing. It’s just a different style. (Nevada has) a very good offensive line. They are physical. They have the leading rusher in the nation.”
Quarterback Shaun Rutherford knows Nevada has a very good football team but he is not letting himself or his teammates indulge in any pre-game hype. The senior, coming off another solid game against SFA, wants to continue to execute the Bobcats’ brand of football.
The offense got back to its efficient, ground-and-pound self against SFA, which was evident the first week of the season when the Cats ran over the Cougars, 280 yards total. Rutherford and the rest of his offensive teammates hope they can remain the same against the Wolf Pack.
The run game has been effective and essential to the Bobcats’ success so far this season, even in their losing effort with Texas Tech. However, their rejuvenated air attack spotted them 301 yards, a career high for Rutherford, in the win against SFA.
Tight end Chase Harper (six foot, five inches) was utilized more than at any other point so far this season, grabbing two touchdowns. The Bobcats were seen using their big and athletic tight ends in practice on more than several occasions, even in a gadget run play.
“It can be,” said Rutherford regarding the effectiveness of using the tight ends more. “We are just trying to get Chase [Harper] the ball more. He’s a big asset to our offense and we are just trying to get the ball to him as much as we can. Chase [Harper] is a big athlete.”
While on the defensive side of things, they will not need to prepare for 50-60 passes with the Wolf Pack offense. The Bobcats are preparing to slow down the first bit of a rushing attack they have seen all season long. A quick tweak in the defensive game plan will be needed.
“Practice for Nevada has been pretty intense,” said safety Xavier Daniels. “You have to stop the run to beat them. We have had to change the mindset, going from fast, no-huddle to a slower (pace) and a more downhill run type of football.”
Nevada does not just run the football effectively. They are quite balanced and can show various formations. With all said, the defense will have to know its assignments and play soundly. The game will be a testament to how the front can match up against a bigger offensive line.
After an increase in production and play from the secondary against SFA, they will now retreat back to a more traditional defensive setup. At times against their pass-heavy oppositions, Texas State would have to sometimes have one down-lineman and observers should expect the more “normal” defensive scheme this week.
Practice intensity was about where it should be in their Tuesday practice. No major injuries were reported and they should be 100 percent for the Wolf Pack. Game time is set at an earlier time than previous games: kickoff at 1 p.m.
Follow Jordan Brewer on Twitter: @jbrewer32