RENO, Nev. (NSN) — Miami has a blinged out turnover chain.
Boise State has a turnover throne.
Nevada? Well, the Wolf Pack has opted for a turnover towel.
“We’re not that fancy,” Nevada head coach Jay Norvell said. “We don’t need a throne or any bling or anything like that. We just need a towel. That’s all we need.”
The Wolf Pack’s turnover towel – it’s a white bath towel that says “Turnover Towel” in blue lettering in case there was any confusion – made its debut Saturday in Nevada’s win over Oregon State. The Wolf Pack forced three Beavers turnovers, including a fumble returned 48 yards by Malik Reed for a touchdown that put Nevada up 30-7.
“The three turnovers were huge,” Norvell said. “The defensive score was huge.”
Since Miami created its turnover chain last season, other colleges have followed. Some schools have had turnover trash cans, spiked shoulder pads, wrestling belts, robes and even a plank of wood. So, why did Nevada opt for a towel? Credit Jarwarski Beckum, the Wolf Pack’s assistant football strength coach.
“He’s a defensive guy at heart,” Norvell said. “He’s always waving a towel, so we figured we’d give him a turnover towel. It’s something we always emphasized in practice and talked about and he does a great job of getting energy on the sideline. It just kind of came to me. I saw Jaws waving the towel and I just said, ‘We need a turnover towel.’”
Norvell added the Wolf Pack’s defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and the Steelers have the Terrible Towel. As a result, the Wolf Pack defense felt a Turnover Towel made sense.
The Wolf Pack was plus-two in turnover margin in the win over Oregon State to move to even on the season (it has six takeaways to six giveaways). Nevada was minus-two in turnover margin last season and made it a point of emphasis this summer to improve that number. The Wolf Pack wouldn’t have beaten Oregon State without those takeaways, Norvell said.
“They were really the difference in the game,” Norvell said. “We want to keep building on that.”
SEAN KREPSZ COULD PLAY SATURDAY
The Wolf Pack has largely been healthy this season, with the lone exception being senior center Sean Krespz, who could make his season debut Saturday at Toledo as he returns from a dislocated elbow.
Krepsz took part in practice Monday and Tuesday and is trending in the right direction to play Saturday.
“He’s trying to manage through his issues,” Norvell said. “We’re hopeful. There’s a possibility he can do some things this week and if he continues to progress we’ll use him.”
Krepsz is the Wolf Pack’s most experienced offensive lineman. The former Washington State transfer has started 22 games in his college career, the most of any player on Nevada’s offense. He’s played both center and guard and could fit in either position when he does return. Krepsz is listed on the Wolf Pack’s depth chart as the backup center behind Kalei Meyer, who has earned strong reviews for his play.
Jermaine Ledbetter, a junior-college transfer, also is working his way up the depth chart. A reserve to start the season, Ledbetter was the primary right guard against Oregon State and is now listed as the starter at the position, with Nate Brown kicking out to right tackle. Both Ledbetter and Krespz are listed at 330 pounds, which adds some much-needed size to the Wolf Pack’s offensive line.
LEARNING HOW TO COMPETE
A day before Nevada hosted Oregon State, Norvell held a team meeting and asked his players to stand if they had beaten a Power 5 team before. Not a single player stood up. And for the Wolf Pack’s senior class, the game against the Beavers was their final chance to beat a team from a power conference.
“It was important for us to check that box off,” Norvell said.
Norvell said his team took a step forward in mindset and learning what’s required to beat quality foes.
“It was an important game for us because you have to have a certain mindset when you compete,” Norvell said. “Our kids made a decision that they were really going to play all out and physical for four quarters, and we did. To a man, we had guys really playing hard. They accepted the physical challenge of the game, really came out and set the tone and then played all the way until the very last snap.
“There are a lot of ways to win and lose the game and we certainly were fortunate to come out on top, but it was a great lesson for our guys on how hard you have to play to win.”
Wolf Pack WR Brendan O’Leary-Orange, who was taken off the field Saturday on a stretch, was at practice Tuesday in street clothes. He looked to be in good physical shape, although he is unlikely to play this week as he returns from a concussion. The Wolf Pack’s players of the week for the Oregon State win were P Quinton Conaway on special teams; LT Jake Nelson on offense; and the entire defense. Nevada’s trip to Toledo on Saturday will cover 2,143 miles. Nevada’s trip to Vanderbilt two weeks ago also covered 2,143 miles. The Wolf Pack’s game at Air Force on Sept. 29 will kick off at 1 p.m and air on ESPNNews, it was announced Monday. Nevada is 0-7 on the road under Norvell and has lost 14 of its last 15 road games.
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.