Nevada Football takes field for first day of fall practices

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 2:24 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada Football is back.

At a smoky first day of fall practices for the team the Wolf Pack started its run toward the season opener.

The last time fans saw the team was on May 1 at the spring game.

Expectations are as high as they’ve ever been under Head Coach Jay Norvell.

“We’re focusing in on our fundamentals and teaching our base concepts,” Norvell said of the team’s mentality entering camp. “As we move we’re in acclimation mode and as we move forward to the middle of next week we’ll be hitting it in high gear. I was excited (today). It’s fun to see the guys out on the field.”

The mindset this season: Mountain West Championship or bust. But before December arrives the Pack first has to focus on August - a period that still gives junior quarterback Carson Strong goosebumps.

“Every year around this time before practice I get paranoid that I’m not good anymore,” Strong said jokingly. “I get nervous, and get butterflies to go out here. It feels like a game.”

Strong shook off the rust connecting with a handful of his favorite targets. Senior wide receiver Elijah Cooks is back after missing all but one game last season because of a shoulder injury. He’s poised for a breakout season.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve been in,” Cooks said. “My shoulders feel 110%. I feel great.”

The Wolf Pack is one of many teams benefiting from an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA because of the pandemic. Many of Nevada’s starters return including senior offensive lineman Jermaine Ledbetter.

“I feel like last year was a warm up,” he said of the shortened nine game schedule. “This (season) is counting. Just having another opportunity being able to play with my boys - I want to make sure everything counts this year.”

Nevada has all the pieces, but success could come down to availability. Coach Norvell says his team is around 90% vaccinated and has been following advice from the team’s medical staff.

“You can’t be a team unless you’re together in meetings, meals,” Norvell said on the importance of vaccinations. “For us to do that we need everyone vaccinated or we won’t be able to do things together. It’s a message that we’ve preached and we’re getting closer (to 100%).”

The Pack will have 18 more practices before the September 4 opener at Cal.

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