‘Big Mac’ goes for final sack of Pack | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Big Mac’ goes for final sack of Pack

Steve Yingling

If Wolf Pack coaches had recognized their talents out of high school, the extravagant tailgate party hosted by the McIntyres every two years at Mackay Stadium could have been a regular fiesta.

Monique McIntyre recalls phoning Fresno State coach Pat Hill, telling the fiery Bulldog leader that her son Garrett was too good not to at least take a closer look at.

Hill didn’t need much convincing and Garrett and younger brother Justin, both standout defensive players at South Tahoe High School, wound up in Fresno.

Four years later, Monique still receives thank yous from Hill as Garrett has become the premier pass rusher in the Western Athletic Conference.

Garrett, an all-Big WAC defensive lineman the past two years, will play in Reno for the final time on Saturday as 16th-ranked Fresno State visits Nevada in a 4 p.m. clash at Mackay Stadium.

“I’m excited. It’s always fun to go down there,” said Garrett, who has never lost to Nevada. “A lot of my family is going down and there is a lot support from the area that is great. Hopefully this will be the biggest showing of Tahoe people, and this is the best Fresno team since I’ve been here, so I hope we can give all of the Tahoe people a good show.”

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Focusing on the Pack after taking top-ranked USC to the wire won’t be an easy task for the Bulldogs. But Garrett said there is too much riding on the outcome of Saturday’s game, so he’s not concerned about a Bulldog letdown.

“You know, that was an exciting environment and something I’ll always remember, but our goal is to win the WAC championship and to do that we have to win the next two games,” said Garrett, a senior defensive end. “This is the most mature team I have been on in Fresno. Guys know what it takes each week and they take them one game at a time. Guys are still preparing well and everyone is still focused, so there shouldn’t be a letdown.”

On the field, Garrett will encounter a couple of Nevada players who he competed against in high school: Senior quarterback Jeff Rowe starred for McQueen when Garrett won Sierra Division Defensive Player of the Year his senior year in 2001. Garrett also tried to slow down speedy Elko back Kyle Eklund a few times.

“They are a program that is doing real good and they play hard and run around a lot,” Garrett said. “We just have to go in and do what we do as Bulldogs.”

Fresno State will focus on stopping running back B.J. Mitchell.

“We want to force them to throw,” Garrett said. “I think our team speed on defense overwhelms their team speed. Once we get them to put the ball in the air, we can make some big plays. It will give us an opportunity to get to that quarterback and get some turnovers.”

If Nevada starts coughing up the football, the rout could be on , giving the McIntyres a chance for a rare moment of playing side by side on the defensive line. Justin, a redshirt freshman, has played in four games and participated in four plays next to Garrett against San Jose State.

“It’s a thrill. I can’t tell you how great it is,” Monique McIntyre said. “I never thought I’d see it. It’s so far to go for these kids. Garrett you could kind of tell and Justin has worked so hard to be there with Garrett.”

That decision, though, will be left up to defensive line coach Kerry Locklin.

“If we get a pretty comfortable lead, that’s when they start rolling players through,” Garrett said. “Hopefully we might get to play next to each other again. That was cool. Justin made a tackle on one of the plays and he got up and was real pumped up. It was a great experience.”

Garrett needs two more sacks to top his season high of eight. He picked up his seventh last Saturday when he dropped 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart in the second half.

“Being a Heisman Trophy winner, that makes that one more special,” Garrett said.

Afterward, there should be a lot for the McIntyres to celebrate: placing two children in Division I football, a WAC title, a Liberty Bowl berth and Garrett turns 21 on Saturday.

“Hopefully I’ll get a good birthday pesent with a win and a couple of sacks,” Garrett said.