By Chris Boline
If five losses in a row have discouraged the Wolf Pack faithful, just imagine how head coach Brian Polian feels.
“For the life of me, I can’t understand why we can look as solid as we did for 30 minutes, see the same stuff (from the first half), and we just don’t keep our poise,” said an exasperated Polian following the loss to Colorado State.
The defeat at the hands of the Rams was another in a season-long trend of second half collapses. Nevada was outscored 32-10 in the second half and was shutout in the fourth quarter. Coupled with the offensive line losses of starters Connor Talbott and Matt Galas, the Wolf Pack is practically limping home to close out the final two home games at Mackay Stadium. The loss to Colorado State also signified that this would be Nevada’s first losing season since 2004. As the Pack returns to Reno, there are many questions that need to be answered, some of which may not be resolved until next year.
After leading in the first half by one point and establishing another one-point lead four minutes into the third quarter, Nevada’s offense slowed to a crawl. In front of 15,234 fans at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo., the Pack was only able to score three more points to the Rams’ 25. Nevada’s defense faltered as they gave up a record-breaking day to Rams running back Kapri Bibbs who ran for 312 yards and four scores.
Of course, the loss to Colorado State was bigger than a simple “L” in the final stat sheet. It also snapped Nevada’s eight-year bowl streak, leaving coach Polian again looking for answers that he did not have.
“To be honest with you, I’m really struggling to articulate (how frustrated I am),” Polian said after the game. “I know what we’re coaching. We got good coaches and we got good kids… if I had an answer for it, it would be fixed.”
Of course, there is not one simple answer to cure the Wolf Pack’s woes. Nevada’s offensive line is depleted after losing Galas and Talbott (after losing three other players in the spring to various reasons), and the defense has been struggling all season — the Pack is 110th in the nation by allowing 36.9 points per game and the rush defense is second to last in the country (265 yards per game).
With those statistics and the way the squad has been playing recently, coach Polian offered his views on all of the streaks that have come to an end.
“I’m very respectful of all the streaks and all the history, but the only thing I can work on is the here and now,” Polian said. “This team is not good enough to play in a bowl game, I love them, but they’re just not executing the way they need to.”
As the team’s leader on offense, quarterback Cody Fajardo has been slowed this season by a bothersome knee and was poked in the eye during the Colorado State game. The junior reflected on the loss and its implications for the remainder of the season.
“We didn’t get a win on the road this season, and we don’t have another opportunity to get a win,” Fajardo said. “Obviously we didn’t make enough plays to win the game.”
Linebacker Jordan Dobrich is one of the youngest (20 years old) and brightest (3.85 GPA in neuroscience) starters on the team, and he reflected on what the team has to improve on and what his fellow defensive teammates will take away from this season.
“I really just hope they take away this feeling that we’ve all had tonight and other Saturday nights: the feeling of lack of accomplishment,” Dobrich said. “That’s what I’m really hoping to take away, that sick feeling of loss.”
Chris Boline can be reached at email@example.com.