By Brandon Fuhs
As they look to bounce back from a 38-17 loss to the Colorado State Rams (5-5, MWC 3-2), the Wolf Pack (3-7, MWC 2-5) will play the San Jose State Spartans (5-4, MWC 4-2) on Saturday, Nov. 16 at home.
Nevada performed well in the first half, holding the Rams to just 170 total yards. The Wolf Pack got on the board after freshman running back Chris Solomon scored a one-yard touchdown run with 4:11 left in the second quarter to take a 7-3 lead over the Rams. The Wolf Pack took a 7-6 lead into the half after freshman kicker Brent Zuzo missed a 54 yard field goal as the clock expired — his first missed field goal of the season. The Rams offense came alive in the second half, mostly thanks to sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs, who ran for over 250 yards and three scores in the second half. Nevada’s offense was slowed down aside from junior quarterback Cody Fajardo’s 68-yard touchdown run.
The Spartans come into Mackay looking to redeem themselves
After San Diego State had recently scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to beat San Jose State 34-30. Senior quarterback David Fales is coming off a nice performance against the Aztecs where he went for 301 passing yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Fales has completed 59.8 percent of his passes this year, compared to last season when he completed 72.5 percent of his throws, which led the nation. Despite Fales’ drop in performance from last year, the Wolf Pack should still be focused on slowing down Fales and the passing game of San Jose State.
Fales’ favorite target, senior wide receiver Chandler Jones, is second in the conference with 11 touchdown receptions. Jones went for 155 yards, and a touchdown against San Diego State. The Spartans ground game, led by freshman Jarrod Lawson, averages only 141.2 yards per game (92nd in the nation), and their defense is ranked 86th in the country, allowing 30.3 points per game. In San Jose State’s four losses they’ve had 10 turnovers, so if Nevada can contains Fales and Jones and cause a few turnovers, they’ll put themselves where they need to be to win the game.
Nevada will need to do more on offense as well, if they want to come away with a win. In order for the defense to stay aggressive, the offense will need to be efficient. Running the ball will be an important part of the efficiency, but San Diego State exposed the Spartans for 174 yards and three touchdowns on the ground without a mobile quarterback. This leaves the door open to Cody Fajardo and the Wolf Pack to be effective on the ground. If Nevada can get junior running back Kendall Brock going early and keep San Jose State’s high-powered offense on the sidelines as much as possible, Nevada could control the game. The Wolf Pack has had problems making adjustments after the half, but running the ball effectively will help keep the Spartans’ second half offense in check.
Although Nevada is no longer bowl eligible, a conference win against the Spartans would be a big step in the right direction, and would knock San Jose State out of contention for the West Division in the conference.
Brandon Fuhs can be reached at email@example.com.