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Zoe Malen/Nevada Sagebrush

Editor’s Note: The Nevada Sagebrush sends its condolences to Nevada Running Back Sean Dollars, his family, the Nevada football program and community. Dollars was knocked unconscious during the RedZone Lockout portion of the scrimmage and taken to the hospital by paramedics. There has been no update regarding Dollars’ status at time of writing, but it was stated by Jeff Choate, Nevada football head coach, in a press conference after the scrimmage, that Dollars could move his extremities. 

The Nevada football team competed in their spring football game, dubbed the Silver and Blue game, on April 13. Here are our takeaways from the scrimmage.

Bianco stands out amongst the loaded QB room

A.J. Bianco, redshirt sophomore quarterback, was the one quarterback who made the best impression during the spring game. Bianco led two of the three drives where the offense put points on the board. The first ended in a field goal after he threw an over 50 yard pass to Marquis Ashley, redshirt junior wide receiver. The second was capped off with a touchdown pass to Jayden O’Rourke, sophomore tight end. The returning quarterback’s performance during the spring game should help his case when Choate and his staff begin to trim down the roster as the fall season inches closer.

Defensive prowess in the box

The Nevada defensive front dominated the pocket and relentlessly pressured quarterbacks throughout the game. Even as offense and defensive combinations rotated, the pressure persisted. Four Nevada defenders recorded sacks – even when they could not bring down the quarterback. Their presence disrupted passing lanes leading to errant throws. The highlight play came at the end of the first half when Malcolm McClure, Nevada linebacker, scooped up a fumble from Jacques Badolato-Birdsell, Nevada running back, and secured a defensive touchdown. Nevada’s defense has been the highlight of the team since the 2021 season, proven by the team’s shutout win against San Diego State in 2023. Knowing that Nevada’s defensive program is seemingly as strong, if not stronger than last year is promising.

Brown made his claim for a spot on the team

With three members of Nevada’s wide receiver core out in the game, the opportunity for others to shine was available for the rest of the team. Marshaun Brown, the redshirt freshman from Bishop Manogue High School, answered the call. Brown made several catches throughout the game, most for short or medium gains. A passing touchdown from Brandon Lewis, Nevada senior quarterback, during the first drive of the second half was the hallmark of his performance. Choate has stated previously that the receiver’s room still has a lot of work to be done before anything is solidified, but Brown may have elevated himself to the front of the group.

Tight End position shines towards the end

The Nevada tight-end group looked sharp in the Pack’s 2024 spring game. Standouts included Cameron Zeidler and O’Rourke. Both sophomores made big plays to set up the offense. Brendon Lewis, Nevada quarterback, zipped a pass to Zeidler for a 30-yard reception after breaking free from two defensive backs. Later on, O’Rourke caught a 24-yard touchdown strike from Bianco. Keleki Latu, Nevada tight-end, made his presence known following last year’s season-ending injury with several crucial receptions, aiding the quarterbacks in avoiding sacks later in the game. Tight-ends have been the one of the backbones of Nevada’s passing game over the last few seasons, and seeing all three candidates for the roster seem to be continuing that trend.

The Nevada football team had their last spring practice on April 16. The program will have summer workouts and fall camp to determine their final roster and get ready for the 2024 season.

Derek Raridon and James Wolfgang Perez can be reached via email or via Twitter at either @TheBigCountry14 or @JamesWPerezUNR

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