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Nevada needs to avoid letdown at Louisiana Tech
by Associated Press
Dec 03, 2010 | 721 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the days after Chris Ault pronounced Nevada's triumph over previously unbeaten Boise State as the most important victory in Wolf Pack history, the coach was trying to get his players to think about something else.

"We're telling them, 'You're making history. You don't have time to enjoy it because you're making it. Keep going. Don't let anything deter you,'" Ault said. "You've got to keep your focus and finish."

Reno was buzzing after the Wolf Pack's dramatic 34-31 overtime win over the Broncos. While the biggest national development coming out of that game was Boise State's removal from the BCS championship picture, there were also significant implications for Nevada.

With the win, the Wolf Pack (11-1, 6-1) kept alive chances of winning a share of the WAC championship with Hawaii and possibly Boise State, which also has a game left.

"We know we have to win one more game to get that WAC championship that we've been working hard for all year," Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. "That's pretty good motivation to get back to work."

In order to share the league title, the Wolf Pack must make their long trip to the north Louisiana town of Ruston a success on Saturday, which is no sure thing. Louisiana Tech (5-6, 4-3) has won 12 of its last 16 at home and has something to play for as well. The Bulldogs would become bowl eligible with a win.

As Ault put it, beating Boise State is "a high that's going to stay with you, and you've got to realize it and put it behind you and get ready, because we haven't one a championship and our players have to understand that."

"I mean, beating Boise was a tremendous thrill and all that, but it won't matter," the coach said. "You've got to find a way to win the championship and La-Tech has a lot to fight for."


Bulldogs have an arsenal of explosive players to fight with as well.

Running back Creer Lennon rushed for 252 yards and three TDs in the Bulldogs' victory over San Jose State last weekend and has averaged 102.9 yards rushing this season.

Wide receiver Phillip Livas had an 88-yard punt return for a score at San Jose, tying an NCAA record with eight career returns for scores.

"He has always been a great returner but he has also put a lot of time, effort and energy into becoming a better wide receiver, and that has really helped our football team," Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said. "He just has an uncanny ability to make a big play."

Louisiana Tech quarterback Ross Jenkins has been inconsistent this season, averaging about 157 yards per game. But the offense has been balanced enough to keep the Bulldogs competitive. Even last week, when Jenkins passed for only 105 yards and threw two interceptions, Tech still racked up 479 yards of offense in a 45-38 win.

"The thing that I like about our offense is that if we struggle to run the ball, we can throw it pretty well, and at times in which we haven't been able to pass, we've run the ball well," said Dykes, who took over after Derek Dooley left for Tennessee following last season. "We have tremendous versatility and I think that makes us a pretty good offense."

Speaking of good offenses, Nevada is now averaging a whopping 536.9 yards per game out of its "pistol" formation that gave Boise State fits.

Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua are the most productive rushing tandem in NCAA history, combining for 8,285 yards on the ground in their careers. The pair also hold the NCAA records for TDs (108) and points (652) scored by two teammates.

Kaepernick is a legitimate dual threat who has passed for 2,671 yards and rushed for 1,029 this season. He's the first quarterback in NCAA history to eclipse 2,000 yards in the air and 1,000 on the ground in three seasons.

This week, he'll be facing a Tech defense that gives up about 457 yards per game.

It looks like a favorable matchup for Nevada, but Ault cautioned, "We can't overlook anybody."

"We don't have that Boise talent, you know?" Ault continued, "but we're getting that Boise attitude."
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