Nevada Football’s new head coach, Jay Norvell, has been up to a great deal since his hiring on Dec. 9. He has put together a full-time staff, leaving no remnants of Polian’s original faculty.
Norvell outlined his plan to ensure the team’s future success during his inaugural press conference as Ne- vada Football’s 45th head coach since the football team’s birth in 1909. His key points were that the team will play an up-tempo spread offense, pressure opposing quarterbacks, play tight coverage and special teams will be a focal part of the teams’ pros- perity.
Norvell is a decorated veteran in terms of football success, and has brought on a staff that reflects those achievements. Matt Mumme will assume the position of offensive co- ordinator, as he runs an air raid style offense. Prior to joining Norvell’s staff, Mumme was the head coach at LaGrange College, where he went 15-24. During his tenure as their shot caller, his offense averaged 25.8 points per game. This hire is no surprise, as Norvell specialized in wide receivers when he was a positions coach, showing he has a knack for an air-it-out type of attack.
Offense wins games and defense wins championships, right? It’s a little more complicated than that, but a defensive coordinator with some grit and know-how can assist in creating a winning culture at a school that has not had that luxury in recent years.
Norvell tapped Jeff Casteel as Nevada’s next defensive coordinator. Casteel has an impressive resume as a defensive coordinator, spending 25 of his 31 years of coaching in this position. Norvell has already worked closely with Casteel, as Casteel’s most recent job was defensive coordinator at Arizona University. Expect Casteel to run a 3-3-5 defensive scheme: three down lineman, three linebackers and five defensive backs.
While Casteel’s experience proceeds itself, it is hard not to be wary. His Arizona University defense allowed a whopping 35.7 points per game in their 2015-2016 campaign, with their largest blowouts coming against UCLA, Stanford, Washington and Arizona State. But no matter the numbers, Norvell has faith in his coordinators for one main reason.
“In hiring both of these coordinators, I wanted men who have been running these systems for a long time,” Norvell said. “ They know exactly what they want to do and how they want to do it, so we can hit the ground running.”
After the hiring of his coordinators, Norvell just had to fill in the gaps with worthy candidate choices. Norvell hired Matt Kirk as safeties coach, Courtney Viney as cornerbacks coach and Jason Kaufusi as the defensive line coach. Kirk was the defensive coordinator at both Long Beach City College, averaging 24.8 points per game, and El Camino College. Viney is relatively new to the coaching world but is seen as a rising star. Before getting a nod from Norvell, Viney was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two seasons and then a special teams quality control coach for the last two seasons of his time with the Sooners. Kaufusi spent one season as a defensive coordinator at Weber State, where his defense allowed a measly 193.5 yards per game.
Norvell hired four assistant coaches on the offensive side of the ball as well: David White as running backs coach, Timmy Chang as slot receivers coach, Eric Scott as outside receivers coach and Mason Miller as the offensive line coach. Mumme will assume the role of coaching up the quarterbacks.
White has strong recruiting ties to Las Vegas, as he coached the Bishop Gorman Gaels from 2003-2007. Dur- ing his time there, he coached argu- ably one of the better running backs in the NFL, DeMarco Murray. Follow- ing his stint at Gorman, White moved on to coach at Oklahoma until 2010, when he began to work for a youth development program called Foot- ball University.
Slots receiver Chang, prior to Ne- vada, was the offensive coordinator at Emory & Henry. During his 2015- 2016 season with Emory & Henry, his offense averaged 33 points per game.
The new outside receivers coach for the Wolf Pack is revered in Los Ange- les. While at Los Angeles High, Scott won two City Section titles in Divi- sion II and III. According to the Los Angeles Times, Norvell has found a gem in Scott as he is “highly regarded for being able to recruit athletes from the Los Angeles area.”
The final staffer on the offensive side of the ball is Miller, who was a force to be reckoned with when he was the offensive coordinator for Tarleton State. During his first season with them, his offense ranked third in the nation, averaging 522.8 yards per game.
Along with the offensive and defensive hires, Norvell hired a strength and conditioning coach, Jordon Simmons, and a special teams analyst, former Pack standout running back Vai Taua.
The Pack’s future looks bright, and according to Nevada Athletics, Nor- vell has compiled this staff based on a few distinct characteristics.
“All of these men have shared qualities. Each one of them has great char- acter and integrity. They are all great teachers and communicators. They are all experts at their given coaching positions. Every one of them
has a rich history in recruiting top-tier talent, particularly in the areas where Nevada has been traditionally strong,” Norvell said.