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Wolf Pack anxious to get season started; faces Cal Saturday

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 5:28 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It has been a memorable offseason for the Nevada football team and on Saturday it all comes to an end as the Wolf Pack prepares to face Cal in their season opener.

There have been a lot of obstacles to overcome the past 17-plus months. COVID is still a concern, and most recently poor air quality which has forced the Pack to get creative with their practice schedule.

Nevada is as anxious as ever to play a real game this weekend.

“We’re excited to be able to play at Berkeley, to play a Pac-12 team, and to start our season off that way,” said Wolf Pack Head Coach Jay Norvell.

Saturday, Norvell and his team will look to get a win against a Pac-12 opponent for the first time since 2018′s thriller against Oregon State. With no available film from this season for either team adjustments will happen on the fly.

Golden Bears Head Coach Justin Wilcox says Nevada’s offense will be tough to defend.

“The receivers create explosive plays whether it’s a catch and run or throwing post routes over the top of people - there’s a reason they’re picked to win the conference,” Wilcox said. “And there’s a reason people are talking about (Carson Strong) in the NFL Draft.”

The Wolf Pack junior from Vacaville, California - less than an hour from Cal - says he went to games and camps in Berkeley as a kid but wasn’t recruited by Wilcox. Strong says he was interested in Cal’s program but is happy to be at Nevada.

“We have a big chance to come in and make a statement and show we can hang with the big boys,” said Strong. “We’re not afraid of anybody. We’re just looking at this as a really big opportunity for us.”

There will be opportunities all over the field but a key matchup will be how Nevada’s defensive line handles Cal’s offensive line - a unit coached by former Wolf Pack o-line coach Angus McClure.

“We went against (McClure) for a couple of years so we know how he likes to operate,” said Nevada defensive lineman Sam Hammond. “I have a good feeling the d-line is going to dominate as always.”

Preparation has been tough to come by for the Pack. Practices have been compromised by smoke. The team had to travel more than 1,500 miles to seven different locations during fall camp.

“It takes whatever it takes,” senior linebacker Lawson Hall said about his team’s preparation. “We always try to say ‘no excuses’ and we really mean that.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm Saturday. The game will be televised on FS1.

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