Help is on its way for the Nevada Wolf Pack offensive line.
Steve Haley, who broke his left arm in the third game of the season against California, is expected to return to the lineup when the Wolf Pack takes on Utah State on Oct. 30 at Mackay Stadium.
Haley, a junior tackle, went through his first practice with his teammates on Monday. He did go through individual workouts last week.
“He’s going to have to earn his way back (into the starting lineup),” said head coach Chris Ault, whose 6-1 Wolf Pack have a bye this week. “But seeing him out there is a welcome sight.”
Haley, who started the last eight games in 2009 and the first three this year, accompanied the team to Hawaii for last Saturday’s 27-21 loss to the Warriors. The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder has played in 18 games in his Pack career (2008-10).
“We took him with us just so he could be with his teammates,” offensive line coach Cameron Norcross said. “But he wasn’t going to play. On this team you have to practice to play.”
Jeff Nady, a 6-7, 285-pound sophomore, has started the last four games in Haley’s absence.
“Jeff Nady has done a solid job,” Norcross said. “But we’ll have an open competition these next two weeks.”
Norcross added that Nady’s starting job might not be the only one that is in jeopardy over the next two weeks of practice. The Pack offensive line struggled at Hawaii as the running game picked up just 134 yards, 280 below its average, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick was under pressure most of the game.
“We might have a lot of competition on the offensive line after the way a few of them played last week (at Hawaii),” Norcross said.
Other changes (other than Haley for Nady) on the offensive line, though, are not expected. The other four starters (guards Chris Barker and John Bender, center Jeff Meads and tackle Jose Acuna) have started all seven games this year.
Both Ault and Norcross hinted that Nady has likely earned at least one more start before going back to a reserve role.
“Jeff Nady has played well enough,” Ault said. “But we definitely want to get (Haley) in there (against Utah State).”
WELLINGTON DONE FOR YEAR: Ault said Monday that wide receiver Chris Wellington has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, ending his college career.
The senior missed last week’s game after injuring his knee two weeks ago against San Jose State. He finishes the year with 13 catches for 147 yards and no touchdowns.
The 6-1, 190-pound Wellington, who also battled through injuries as a junior in 2009 (24 catches), caught 82 passes for 1,136 yards and seven touchdowns in his four-year Pack career. He sat out the 2006 season as a red-shirt. His best year was in 2008 when he caught 42 passes for 632 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore.
Moe Patterson (seven catches, 63 yards) and Malcolm Shepherd (five catches, 91 yards) are expected to see increased playing time in Wellington’s absence.
ESPNU PICKS UP PACK-UTAH STATE GAME: The Wolf Pack’s home game on Oct. 30 against Utah State will now be televised by ESPNU.
The game time for the Western Athletic Conference contest has also been changed, from 1:05 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Pack has just two home games remaining after the Utah State game: Nov. 20 against New Mexico State (1:05 p.m.) and Nov. 26 against Boise State (7:15 p.m., ESPN2).
BALL, MOCH NOMINATED FOR WAC AWARDS: Wolf Pack kick return Mike Ball and defensive end Dontay Moch were nominated this week by the Nevada Media Services department for the WAC’s weekly awards.
The awards, though, went to Louisiana Tech quarterback Ross Jenkins (Offensive Player of the Week), Hawaii linebacker Corey Paredes (Defensive Player of the Week) and Boise State punt returner Chris Potter (Special Teams Player of the Week).
Jenkins threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns against Idaho, Paredes had nine tackles and forced two fumbles against the Wolf Pack and Potter returned four punts for 76 yards against San Jose State.
Ball had an 84-yard kickoff return that led to a Pack touchdown against Hawaii and Moch had two sacks and three tackles for a loss.
TAUA, WIMBERLY MISS PRACTICE: Wolf Pack running back Vai Taua and wide receiver Brandon Wimberly both missed practice Monday.
Both injuries, Ault said, were not serious and both are expected to play Oct. 30 against Utah State.
Wimberly, who injured his knee on Saturday, is expected to practice on Tuesday. Taua might sit out another day or two, Ault said.
“He’s earned the time off if he needs it,” Ault said of Taua.