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Nevada football using trips to Stanford as bonding experience

The{ }Nevada football team been practicing at Stanford due to poor air quality in Reno. (Nevada athletics)
The Nevada football team been practicing at Stanford due to poor air quality in Reno. (Nevada athletics)
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If there is a silver lining to Reno's poor air quality pushing Wolf Pack football practices to Palo Alto, Calif., for back-to-back weeks, it's the bonding the team has been able to do while spending part of its training camp on the road.

"Sometimes when adversity hits you, there's some real positive things to come out of it," Nevada head coach Jay Norvell said before his team left for Stanford on Monday. "And we had an amazing week last week. You know, we're all together on a bus. We eat together, we meet together. We had cards and dominoes on the tables at night. So when we were done with meetings, kids were playing games and they were bonding. And it's amazing how on a college campus, these kids don't spend a lot of time together in their free time, and they really got to know each other. Our meetings were incredible. Some of the best meetings that we've had. Kids telling personal stories about their families and losing family members. We all got to know each other a lot better."

The Wolf Pack hasn't had quite as much free time this week as it did last week as classes began Monday and Nevada is setting aside a large chunk of each day for school work after their morning practices. But Norvell and his staff have tried to turn the adversity of not being able to practice at home into a positive, preaching a "no excuses" mentality from his team, which opens the season Sept. 4 at Cal.

Norvell said being able to use Pac-12 facilities before it opens the season against a Pac-12 team has been good.

"Just being in that environment, I think is really good for our team, to be at a Pac-12 school, to be at a school that has a really good football tradition," Norvell said. "It's just good for our kids to be in that environment. And the energy and the competitiveness of our practice was outstanding. And it's funny, (Stanford) couldn't believe how long we were out there practicing. But our kids are really anxious to get prepared. You know, they want to practice, they're fresh and ready to go. And we've been practicing at a high level. When we've gotten a chance to practice, it's been outstanding."

Norvell said his team's determination has stood out despite the uneven practice schedule, and while the Wolf Pack returned almost all of its players from last season due to COVID-19 roster allowances, he feels as if his team is as bonded as its been during his five seasons at the helm.

"I just think we have a very focused team," Norvell said. "I really do. And we've got very close. They are really looking for opportunities to play in front of fans. Not having fans and not playing a full schedule last season, you don't get an opportunity to do something, you appreciate it more. So they're excited. We're excited as coaches. And we can't wait."

Nevada will do a mock game on Saturday at Stanford before returning home later that day. But the highlight of the trips to Stanford thus far has probably been the team's rookie show last week.

"It was great," Norvell said. "We took advantage of that to get closer as a team. And I think it'll help us down the road."

As for the star of the show?

"We have a new Aussie punter, Paddy (Turner)," Norvell said. "He's an incredible mathematician. He can do math problems in his head, and it's amazing. He was the star. Absolutely."

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