Nevada latest in Mountain West Conference to explore football stadium options

Nevada is the latest Mountain West Conference member with plans to renovate its football venue, pushing a $6 million to $8 million project to add new suites, a state of the art club seating level and chair backs in at least five sections in Mackay Stadium that could boost attendance and generate needed revenues.

Private financing for the project still must be secured, but Athletics Director Doug Knuth told the Reno Gazette Journal that he is optimistic the renovations could be complete when the Wolf Pack opens the 2014 season with a game against Southern Utah.

Colorado State and UNLV also have stadium projects in the works – the Rebels are working on a very large scale, with a 60,000-seat venue that would also host a slew of other events. Boise State in 2012 added 3,500 permanent seats in the North and South end zones, pushing seating capacity at Bronco Stadium to 37,000.

At Nevada the 48-year-old Mackay Stadium has 60 skyboxes, but there is a waiting list for them. The renovation plan includes the addition of outdoor suites on the west side of the stadium and converting the boxes on the east side to patio-style boxes.

The Wolf Pack averaged 23,432 for six home games last season – Mackay holds 30,000.

Fresno State’s overtime victory not sitting well in Reno

Kevin Foster, shown in this Bee file photo, knocked down a big 3-pointer to send the Bulldogs’ game Tuesday at Nevada into OT.

The Fresno State Bulldogs’ overtime victory at Nevada did not sit well with the Wolf Pack – with coach David Carter, anyway. Carter was livid after the Pack had made a number of mistakes down the stretch, allowing the Bulldogs to take the game into and win in overtime, including a missed free throw by Malik Story that would have given Nevada a two-possession lead with 14 seconds to go.

The Bulldogs came out of a timeout and Kevin Foster ran a perfectly executed play with a fake handoff to a decoy shooter down in the corner and knocked down a tying 3-pointer. Perfect, from the Fresno State standpoint. Nevada guard Deonte Burton was supposed to switch and didn’t, leaving Foster wide open.

“You can look at me,” the Nevada coach said, in the Reno Gazette Journal. “I know I’m the head of the team. But you know what? Sometimes they have to take ownership of the team and be accountable for what the (expletive deleted) they’re doing. You miss free throws, that’s concentration. You’re at home, you have the game in grasp and you can’t step up there and make plays, make free throws, maybe you’re not a Division I player.”

Carter did not allow any of the Wolf Pack players to speak to the media after the game — the third time he has done that this season. But he did plenty of talking for them, and to them.

“I just told them, ‘I don’t have any answers,’ ” Carter said. “I put you in position to win. I run sets, run plays, you have to make plays, you have to make free throws, you have to block out. There’s only so much I can control when you get out there.’ It’s up to them to decide what they want to be.”

When it comes to adjustments, ‘Dogs have been ahead of the curve

There is enough for the Fresno State Bulldogs to worry about when facing a Nevada offense that is averaging 260.6 rushing yards per game and 262.7 passing yards a game, the only team in the bowl subdivision gaining more than 260 yards per game in both categories.

The Wolf Pack is ranked eighth in total offense, 14th in scoring offense. They have scored 30 points or more in every game this season, which is something even the Bulldogs have not managed to do, scoring 26 in a loss at Tulsa, 28 in a win at Colorado State and 10 in a loss at Boise State.

And, they are coming into this Mountain West match up with the Bulldogs off a bye week, which has given them plenty of time to add a bit to the offense they run from the Pistol formation.

‘’He’s had two weeks so there will be a whole bunch of new wrinkles. He’ll do stuff in the off week that we’re not expecting, so we have our hands full dealing with that,’’ defensive coordinator Nick Toth said.

Adjustments will need to be made, but that, Mike linebacker Travis Brown said, is why the Bulldogs’ defense will go into the game with a degree of confidence.

‘’They’ve been pretty solid about keeping what they’ve been doing. We looked at them today and they haven’t run any kind of shotgun empty this whole year,’’ said Brown, who is third on the team with 46 tackles. ‘’I don’t know if they’re into too much new stuff, but what they’ve done in the past is add an option guy to it. That’s what they did to our old scheme.

‘’But if it does happen, they won’t be the first team to add a little wrinkle into their offense to catch us off guard. That first series or two, we catch it, we make our adjustments off of it. That’s what these coaches do best. We’re in good hands if they come out in something different.

‘’We have adjustments on the field that, if they come out in a funky formation, we can check into and get cleaned up right there. But if they come out in a totally crazy play, we’ll just wait until we get to the sidelines and if it gets bad enough where they’re hitting chunks we’ll call timeout and fix it right there.’’

During bye week, Nevada tried to fix what is broken, but there’s a whole lot there to mend

Nevada is coming off a bye week and with the extra time between games at Air Force and against Fresno State, Coach Chris Ault said the Wolf Pack spent a lot of time on themselves, correcting mistakes. Or, trying to.

‘’It was good for us,’’ Ault said. ‘’We had gone straight without any bye weeks, any days off, since camp so it was good to back off and try to fix some of the things that are broken and get better at some of the fundamental skills on both sides of the ball.’’

Tackling is probably one of those fundamental skills.

When it last played, Nevada allowed 600 yards of total offense in a 48-31 loss to the Falcons and the Wolf Pack has not forced an opponent to punt in almost six quarters of football; the last punt was by San Diego State on Oct. 26, on the Aztecs opening drive of the second half of a 39-38 overtime victory.

Since that punt, the Nevada drives have gone like this …

Against San Diego State:

10 plays, 62 yards – touchdown

9 plays, 73 yards – touchdown

11 plays, 75 yards – touchdown

7 plays, 63 yards – field goal

2 plays, 25 yards – touchdown

Against Air Force:

12 plays, 48 yards – field goal

1 play, 3 yards – fumble lost

9 plays 75 yards – touchdown

8 plays, 95 yards – touchdown

9 plays, 65 yards – touchdown

6 plays, 83 yards – touchdown

2 plays, 29 yards – fumble lost

15 plays, 75 yards – touchdown

14 plays, 73 yards – touchdown

11 plays, 59 yards – field goal

4 plays, minus-7 yards – downs, end of game

That’s 16 possessions – really, 15, since Air Force was taking a knee to run out the clock on that last one – and 10 touchdowns and three field goals and that’s not good.

VIDEO: Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter press conference, part 3

Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter fielded more questions about the Bulldogs’ game on Saturday at Nevada and running back Stefphon Jefferson, who is leading the nation in rushing, in part 3 of his weekly press conference.

He also talked about watching San Diego State beat Boise State on Saturday, which put Fresno State in control of its own destiny in winning at least a share of a Mountain West championship in its first season in the conference.

VIDEO: Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter press conference, part 2

Fresno State faces a big challenge this week trying to slow down Nevada and an offense that is averaging 260.6 rushing yards and 262.7 passing yards per game and ranks eighth in the bowl subdivision in total offense. A big part of that is running back Stefphon Jefferson, the Visalia El Diamante High product, who is leading the nation in rushing with 149 yards per game.

DeRuyter opens part 2 of his weekly press conference discussing Jefferson and the difficulties he presents to the Bulldogs’ defense.