Too bad UNR’s Chris Ault isn’t coaching golf instead of football. Maybe then he could ask the Western Athletic Conference for a mulligan.
The Wolf Pack probably wishes it could replay Saturday’s game after its defense disintegrated, its special teams melted down and its starting quarterback went down for the season with a foot injury in a 49-41 home loss to Fresno State to open conference play.
And with a trip to Boise State looming for a nationally televised game Sunday, Ault is in scramble mode.
“You’re always looking at personnel changes, but your two-deeps are set,” Ault said Monday, two days after UNR allowed Fresno State to rush for 307 yards and surrendered 475 yards overall.
“You might tweak some things, but it comes down to fundamentals. We’ve been fairly inconsistent all year with our rush defense. We’ve worked hard on it, but not fast enough or effective enough.
“Bottom line, we have not gotten it done.”
For UNR fans, that is not the news they want to hear — especially given that Boise State (4-1, 1-0 WAC) is coming off a 58-0 victory over New Mexico State on Sunday and that the Broncos have dominated UNR (2-3, 0-1) in the past.
“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge going up there,” Ault said of Sunday’s game, which will be televised on ESPN. “You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game when you play Boise, especially at their place.”
In addition to getting his defense and special teams back on track, Ault has to get Colin Kaepernick ready to start at quarterback. Kaepernick, a 6-foot-6-inch redshirt freshman, came in Saturday after starter Nick Graziano injured tendons in his right foot during the second quarter.
Kaepernick had a strong performance, passing for 384 yards and four touchdowns and running for another score.
“Kap managed the game very well and he brought us back,” Ault said. “We’re very fortunate he’s very intelligent.”
Graziano had surgery Monday and is out for the season.
With Kaepernick now in charge of the offense, Ault said he might have to adjust the playbook to better accommodate the freshman.
“We may scale a few things back and put some different things in so he’s comfortable,” Ault said. “But he’s our guy and he’s as good a running quarterback as I have had.”
But Ault’s bigger concern is the defense. He said he can’t remember the last time one of his defensive units had a total breakdown like it did against Fresno State.
“Our poor fundamentals, our lack of tackling, there’s no excuse for the way we played,” he said.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or (702) 387-2913.