Ault was flattered to be chosen to finish second by members of the media, but he believed that was based on what Nevada has done the past couple years and that doesn‘t win games now.
But the main topic Ault repeated throughout Monday’s press conference on the first day of official practice is a change of culture.
“There’s perception and then there’s reality. The reality is that I think this move to the Mountain West will enable us to do a lot of things,” Ault said. “Number one is and I told the team this last night, I’m going to take advantage and with my staff change the culture of Nevada football. Not the foundation. The foundation is ‘Nevadatude’ and that stays. The culture is this: the way we work, evaluate and develop trust.”
Ault said he likes change, but it has to fit within the philosophy of the program.
That culture began to change during winter workouts and continued into spring football and summer conditioning. Ault believes his players are in great shape.
The big change everyone is wondering about is the move from the WAC to the MWC, although there will be many familiar faces.
Ault said he expects the football in the Mountain West Conference will be competitive, but the biggest difference is the resources MWC’s schools have available.
“There’s a definite gap, we know there’s a gap. Our product has exceeded our resources in the WAC and it‘s got to continue doing that,” Ault said. “That to me is our biggest challenge that we’re going to see here at the University. The football will take care of itself.”
Nevada returns six starters on offense and defense, but Ault also said those players aren’t locks in their positions. Competition and depth at positions will help the team develop.
“The thing that is most exciting about this season is this, there are a lot of guys who have some great opportunities. There are some tremendous, tremendous challenges for those guys to be able to play,” Ault said.
Sophomore Cody Fajardo returns as the team’s starting quarterback and has dedicated himself to learning the game. He admits he didn’t spend enough time studying film last year and said the game has slowed down for the signal caller.
“The main thing for me was to become a better vocal leader,” Fajardo said. “It gave me a lot of confidence as well because last year being a freshman, a lot of the older guys were like who’s this freshman kid. Just that I can be vocal because I have that experience, really helps me out on the field.”
Nevada opens the season on Sept. 1 at California and returns home a week later to take on South Florida, two schools from BCS conferences. At the end of September, the Wolf Pack has back-to-back trips to Hawaii and Texas State. Ault singled out that time on the road as a test for his team, especially after hitting a plateau in the middle of last season.
“The important thing when you’re going into any conference whether it’s new or not is how you continue to improve as the year goes by,” Ault said. “Last year in the middle of the season, our defense shut down. Our offensive front shut down, and we never got better. When that happens, you’re not going to win championships. The kids see it.”