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Biggest game of the year for the Wolf Pack
by Harry Spencer
Nov 13, 2009 | 851 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne
Wolf Pack running back Luke Lippencott is among the 15 seniors who will play their last home football game today at Mackay Stadium.
Tribune/John Byrne Wolf Pack running back Luke Lippencott is among the 15 seniors who will play their last home football game today at Mackay Stadium.
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Today at 1:05 p.m., the most important game the Nevada football team will play to date will kick off at Mackay Stadium. No, it is not against perennial Western Athletic Conference champion Boise State but it will certainly set the stage for that important season ender. Nevada has to take care of a tough Fresno State opponent today in order to ensure at least a shot at an all-out, or shared, WAC championship at the end of the season.

Defeating Fresno will set the table for the Boise-Nevada showdown. Last week, we saw a Louisiana Tech team, which Nevada handled pretty easily, almost scare the uniforms off supposedly invincible Boise State. The LA Tech squad took over in the second half of the game and provided a nail biter on national TV. The game buoyed the spirits of all Wolf Pack supporters who, like everyone else in the WAC observer corps, had thought that the red-hot, undefeated Bronco team was a shoo-in to easily capture the WAC and possibly be in contention for a BCS spot. While Boise started the season strong by soundly defeating a tough Oregon team, the Wolf Pack had such a dismal 0-3 start that many fans were calling for coach Chris Ault’s head. Strangely enough, Nevada then went on a six-game winning streak that was so sensational that the team is number one in the country when it comes to rushing stats. This is a rare spot indeed for a Nevada offense that has routinely been predicated on its passing abilities. The fact that the Silver and Blue has three incredible rushers it can put on the field probably has a lot to do with its lofty ranking. The trio is headed by sensational quarterback Colin Kaepernick and also features Vai Taua, who achieved stellar status last season when he had to replace the injured Luke Lippincott and who has continued ripping apart opposing defenses this year. Third member of the group is Lippincott himself, who is on the field replacing Taua and who is running as well as ever. The terrific ground game is well abetted this year by the fact that Kaepernick has refined his passing skills and is able to drill receivers at will when opponents line up in formations to stop them.

In addition, the line play of the Nevada defense has shown it can take care of most opposing teams’ offensive line and can stuff even the most gifted runners. That part of the team will be tested very severely today since the ground game is the heart of the Fresno offense. If Nevada has an Achilles heel, it is on pass defense, but even that shortcoming has been improved in recent outings. Weather could be another factor in today’s ground game. It will be cold and the field could possibly be wet and unstable if the predicted Friday night storm arrives on schedule. At any rate, those who brave the chill at Mackay Stadium today should see some good old-fashioned smash mouth football. Since today is the last home appearance for some 15 seniors, it might well provide the emotional edge that could ensure a Nevada victory.

Yucca Mountain

not dead yet

According to a spirited debate held in Reno on Thursday about the fate of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository, the project still has a good chance of going forward. The general consensus of those who witnessed the debate in a follow-up poll was that the fate of Yucca is closely tied to the re-election campaign of Sen. Harry Reid. Should Reid win in November, the stumbling blocks to Yucca will be larger and more difficult to overcome. Should Reid lose, one canny observer noted that the day after Election Day, the trains will begin rolling in Yucca’s direction.

Celebrity Corner

Every now and then, an old black-and-white film appears on the Turner Classic Movie channel that features a couple of actors who had northern Nevada ties.

The most recent flick was entitled “”Our Man in Havana” and stared Alec Guiness and Maureen O’Hara, neither of whom I am referring to above. The supporting actors, Burl Ives and Ernie Kovacs, were the pair with long-ago ties to this area.

Since “Our Man” was released in 1960, it was probably filmed in that year or 1959, so the Ives who showed up on the screen was the same physical specimen who arrived at the Mapes hotel in the summer of 1960 for an extended stay while he visited the stars of “The Misfits,” which was being filmed here at the time. His only request of me was to guide him to an authentic Jewish deli, which was easy to do since Tony’s Deli was a block and a half away down First Street in the old Reno Garage building. As he chomped his sandwich on the way back to the Mapes, he hummed the “Blue Tailed Fly” between bites. He was a jolly and affable individual at all times.

As for Kovacs, he was a regular at the small lounge in the original Harrah’s at South Shore. His hilarious routines were so good that he was rivaling Louis Prima (who also played Harrah’s regularly) as the top lounge act on the national circuit. Whenever Kovacs appeared at the lake, it was mandatory to drive up and catch his act, no matter what the weather was like on old Highway 50. Kovacs passed away far too early but his impact lasted far beyond his years as other lounge acts tried to combine his rare form of zany slapstick and stand-up humor. He was a credible performer on the Silver Screen as he proved in “Our Man in Havana,” while playing the “heavy.”

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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