College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Nevada Wolf Pack and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice began: March 27
Spring game: April 20
2012 record: 7-6
Returning starters: 12 (seven offensive, five defensive)
Legendary coach Chris Ault retired after the 2012 season, paving the way for former Texas A&M special teams coach Brian Polian to take the reins in Reno. He'll have a good nucleus to work with on offense with quarterback Cody Fajardo (a rising star) and running back Stefphon Jefferson returning, but he'll have to spend spring shoring up the defense. Will Polian be able to handle the pressure of replacing Ault?
The Least You Need To Know About Nevada This Spring
-- There is a new coaching staff. This spring gives the team its first extended shot at getting familiar with Polian and his new staff. The retired Ault was an institution around Nevada, but now Polian will try to make his mark. The 38-year-old Polian has never been a head coach before, so getting off to the good start in spring is critical. He'll keep in place most of Ault's traditions, but one change he will make involves the jerseys, which will now have names on the back of them.
-- They must find some linebackers. The Wolf Pack return their entire two-deep lineup in the front four, but all three starting linebackers from last season must be replaced. Some reserves from last year will be in the mix, including junior Jonathan McNeal, who had 16 tackles last year, plus sophomores Jordan Dobrich and Lorenzo Devers, who had nine and six tackles, respectively. Polian would love to see one of them emerge as a reliable starer. This could be a unit that will need further replenishment when the recruiting class arrives in the fall.
-- The secondary must be rebuilt. The Wolf Pack struggled with pass defense last year, allowing 230 yards per game through the air. Only cornerback Charles Garrett returns as a starter from that group. Sophomores Bryan Lane and Bryson Keeton, seniors Markus Smith and Arthur Forrest and junior Evan Favors are the most experienced of the bunch and will get the first shot at competing for starting jobs but, again, there may not be stability until more help arrives in August.
-- Shore up the special teams. The Wolf Pack enter the spring short on kicking specialists. Walk-on kicker Colin Ditsworth (1 for 3 on FGs in 2012) returns along with scholarship punter Chase Tenpenny, who averaged 42.5 yards per punt in 2012, but Polian would like to have more competition here in the spring. Nevada will hold walk-on tryouts to try to bolster the numbers until touted recruit Brenton Zuzo joins the team in the fall.