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Nevada football shows bright spots in spring game ahead of 2021 season

Cole Turner in Spring Game (Nevada Athletics)

Nevada football concluded its spring game for 2021 with a sold out crowd of 1,800 people socially distanced at Mackay Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Each player left everything out on the field, fighting for that starting position.

Head coach Jay Norvell was pleased at the performance the Wolf Pack gave as the team concluded their 15 practices and spring game.

“Really, really happy about the way that spring ended today,” said Norvell. “You know, the whole key the spring game is you want the guys to compete, you want to have them execute in front of fans. Whenever we can be in Mackay, it's a big deal for our kids and just so proud and happy for our guys that they got a chance to participate in front of family and friends and their classmates and some of the our community here today just really, really excited that they had that chance. They hadn't had a chance to play in front of fans for over a year. So really good. A lot of great execution. But we're excited about what we can be as a team. And I think we saw a lot of great things today.”

It was a solid performance for the defense. Some noteworthy highlights came from defensive back Dom Peterson as he recorded three sacks and defensive end Daniel Grzesiak who recorded two. Another spotlight was walk-on defensive back Tyriq Mack who recorded two interceptions, one of those being a pick six where he took back for 100 yards.

“I was really, really proud,” Norvell said. “I thought our pass rush was really impactful today. We've been really working on that with our guys getting to the quarterback. And then I love the big plays of the secondary. We've been really stressing that, you know, turnovers and make it plays in the back end. I love the new additions we have back there with Bentlee Sanders and Isaiah Essissima. And you know Jordan Lee had a big play today, Berdale had a big play today. That was really good to see Tyriq Mack have a big play as well.”

While there was new faces on the field today, coach says it’s vital for those players who don’t normally see action during the game, to be able to have a shot In showing what they can bring to the team.

“it's so important. You know, we built everything on repetitions and we we really tried to build the understanding of our younger players,” Norvell said. “And, you know, we want to have a growth mindset as a team. We want to get better. We understand that we're a work in progress. We have a lot of good players, but we have to come out here and learn from mistakes and get better every day. And the only way backup players learn is by doing it. And so, you know, we wanted everybody to play all the backup players, all the quarterbacks. I think the quarterbacks, you know, they got a ton of experience this spring, especially with Carson not being out here. And they improved a ton and so really proud of them. And we'll learn from all these experiences and we'll be better for it. I I think the same things, you know, offensively, you know, we just want better execution, you know, we had a lot of key players that weren't involved, so our continuity wasn't great, but better execution again, pressuring the quarterback on defense, taking the ball away in the back end. We want to really get better fundamentally at play in man coverage and getting off man coverage, wide receiver. And we're going to go back in a weight room and work. And we'll have eight weeks of summer training starting in June and we'll get ready to tee it up in September. So it's exciting.”

On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Romeo Doubs proved again why he’s a key offensive weapon for the Wolf Pack.

“Romeo. I think the greatest thing about Romeo is how hard he works,” Norvell said. “I don't think people realize he's probably one of the best practice players I've ever been around. You know, he's had an accomplished career so far, but he just comes out there every day like he's trying to prove something. And, you know, I call him secretariat, because he just he just goes he goes all day long and never gets tired. And he loves he loves catching the ball and he hates getting taken out. So really excited to see his performance today and, you know, able to get him through and keep them healthy. And we're looking for him to have a big fall.”

Quarterback Nate Cox led the charge today for Nevada, could he be the backup to the Wolf Pack’s starting quarterback Carson Strong?

“I think he can and I think he's made a ton of progress,” Norvell said. “He's shown the ability to throw the ball down the field. But he also I think he learned a lot of patience this spring. He got a lot of reps. You know, sometimes when you don't get many reps, it's hard to be patient. But when he's in a regular routine and getting a ton of reps, I think he learned a lot of patience. And he understands our system much better. And I'm really proud. It's fun having a 6-9 quarterback. I never had a guy that tall before, so pretty excited about that. But he's improved a ton of value.”

With the first game set for September 4 at Cal Berkeley, coach said there’s some room for growth he’d still like to see from his team.

"Just play with more poise, and that is an area of emphasis for us, we have to play with more poise and discipline,” Norvell said. “Day like today we got a lot of reps. Guys were tired, but they got to continue to focus. And and so that's an area that we're really looking at going into the Fall.”

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