'Dogs Have Struggled with Pack

RT Cody Wichmann (photo by Scott Edwards)

Fresno State won five straight versus Nevada when the Wolf Pack joined the WAC in 2000, including two games in Reno. However, since 2005, the Bulldogs are just 2-4 in the series and winless in the last three contests…

Fresno State dominated Nevada from 2000-04. In 2005, after the Bulldogs lost at No. 1 USC, the Wolf Pack upset then-16th ranked FS the following week. Fresno State beat Nevada in the 2006 season opener for one of its only four wins that season.

In 2007, Fresno State rumbled out to a commanding 49-27 lead in the second half before then redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick rallied the Wolf Pack in the fourth quarter in a 49-41 Bulldog victory.

Kaepernick would lead Nevada to consecutive wins the next three seasons, including two inside Bulldog Stadium.

This week, the Wolf Pack is a decisive double-digit point favorite over the Bulldogs despite both teams entering with similar records. Granted, FS lost 52-14 in Reno last time out. Bulldog head coach Pat Hill is just 3-4 versus Wolf Pack head coach Chris Ault as WAC mates. Nevertheless, Hill is still 7-1 against Kaepernick-less Nevada teams since 2000.

Has Hill lost his edge the last three years? Has Wolf Pack head coach Chris Ault just outcoached him? Or was Kaepernick that much of a difference maker? We'll find out soon enough.

Offensive Line Shuffles

Hill is unsure who will start this week on the offensive line for the Bulldogs.

At the start of the season, Fresno State had a set starting five – the five best offensive linemen on the team.

Senior left tackle Bryce Harris was the only starter linemen that started all 13 games in 2010. Junior center Richard Helepiko started a handful of games in 2010 behind Joe Bernardi and was the cog of the unit. Senior right guard Leslie Cooper started some games at the same position last year after an injury to Andrew Jackson. Junior left guard Matt Hunt and sophomore right tackle Austin Wentworth got a few starts at the end of 2011 – Hunt at left guard, Wentworth at right guard.

No one else on the roster had started a game nor had much game experience. After Helepiko was injured in the first game and Hunt in the second, redshirt freshman Cody Wichmann and junior Trevor Richter were thrust into the starting lineup.

Cooper injured his ankle versus Ole Miss and has missed the last two games. He is still nursing the ankle but will likely play this week. He is still easily one of the top five linemen on the roster and could start. He can play both guard and center, which he started four games after Helepiko's injury.

Wichmann has done a fine job at right tackle, and Hill is content with leaving Wentworth at right guard. One thing is for sure, Harris will make his 34th consecutive start at left tackle. And Wentworth won't be removed from the starting lineup. If Cooper starts at right guard, again, Wentworth will move back to right tackle giving the ‘Dogs their original starting five versus Cal.

Cooper could start at center leaving Hunt and Wentworth at guards. He could start at left guard leaving Hunt to come of the bench as the "sixth man." Regardless, the ‘Dogs have much better depth than eight weeks ago as Richter can spell anyone at either guard spot as well.

Hill said he doesn't want to move Wentworth from guard, so we expect the change – if any – on the starting o-line to be at left guard (Hunt/Cooper) or center (Helepiko/Cooper).

Evans Cleared

Rashad Evans returned to practice Wednesday after going through a battery of tests the days following the hit he suffered Saturday versus Utah State.

He showed "concussion like" symptoms after the game. But he has been cleared to play Saturday at Nevada.



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