Tulsa Prepares For Nevada Running Attack

Nevada Wolf Pack
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Nevada's 28-17 upset over Washington showed the Wolf Pack can handle adversity. Now coach Chris Tormey wants to see how his team handles success.

He called Saturday's game at Tulsa a test of Nevada's character.

"To me it's all about preparation," Tormey said. "We just have to focus on that and try to do the best job that we can."

The win at Husky Stadium was the biggest of his career and the first time Nevada (4-2, 2-0 Western Athletic Conference) has beaten a Pac-10 team in nine tries since moving to Division I.

But Tulsa (3-3, 1-1 Western Athletic Conference) is playing well, Tormey said, and could make for a lot of problems both on offense and defense.

"They're making people earn every yard," he said.

Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe also is concerned about how his team is adjusting to success after finishing last in the WAC each of the last two seasons.

The Golden Hurricane opened its WAC season by beating preseason favorite Hawaii, and it lost just 27-20 to defending champion Boise State last week after overcoming a 20-point deficit.

Kragthorpe wants to see a less tentative first-half team as WAC play heats up.

"We're still trying to get in the mind-set of we're the one that needs to come out and play well and see if people match it," he said. "We need to be the trendsetter more than we have been."

Tulsa quarterback James Kilian, who has completed 55.3 percent of his passes for an average 180.2 yards and rushed for a team-leading 344 yards, will have to be quick to avoid a run-in with Nevada defensive end Jorge Cordova.

Cordova leads the league in tackles for losses at 13 and sacks at 10. He had 16 tackles, including 4.5 sacks for 26 yards, against Washington. He also blocked a 43-yard field goal and forced a fumble.

"He has that tremendous first step," Tormey said of Cordova's quickness. "He really puts a lot of pressure on the offensive tackle."

Tulsa leads the WAC in pass efficiency defense but ranks next-to-last in rushing defense, allowing 201.5 yards a game.

Nevada expects to bring Chance Kretschmer, who led the nation in rushing two years ago as a freshman and ranks 24th nationally at an average 96.5 yards now.

He is expected to return after missing the bulk of last week's game to nurse a shoulder bruise.

Tormey said Kretschmer would have played more last week if the Wolf Pack had faced a conference opponent. But he didn't want him to suffer long-term damage and told him not to play "tough guy."

"We don't need a chronic shoulder problem," Tormey said.

Kragthorpe is encouraged by his team's effort against the run.

Boise State is the WAC's top rushing team and ranks sixth nationally in rushing yards. Kragthorpe said the Hurricane played well on run defense until allowing a 68-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.

"You've got to give Boise some credit," he said. "They are a good running football team and they made the plays when they had to. But I think we are improving."