by Chris Boline
In a game that lived up to its sold-out hype, Nevada fell just short in upending rival Boise State last Saturday night. After a seesaw battle that saw four lead changes in the
first half alone, the Broncos ousted the Wolf Pack, 51-46.
The amount of combustible plays that caused the teams to pile up a combined 1,032 yards of total offense was no less explosive than the post-game fireworks celebration. The
46 points were the most scored by a Nevada team since
the 2012 season, but it was not enough to overcome the
four interceptions thrown by quarterback Cody Fajardo.
Although head coach Brian Polian has insisted time and time again that “there are no moral victories” for his team, the Wolf Pack had plenty of chances to win last Saturday, even if they did ultimately fall short. However, Nevada needs to address its problems soon since another Mountain West heavy-hitter comes to Mackay Stadium this week, 4-1 Colorado State.
GRAYSON LEADS THE MOST EXPLOSIVE MWC OFFENSE
While the Wolf Pack has had moderate success this year holding top-flight quarterbacks in check (they intercepted Washing- ton State’s Connor Halliday twice and kept pace with Arizona’s Anu Solomon), they will be tested once again by the Rams’ Garrett Grayson. The senior is second in the MWC with 1,497 yards passing and is first in passing touchdowns with 13, which is five more than any other MWC quarterback. Grayson will be very tough to deal with for the 59th-ranked Nevada passing defense, but the Wolf Pack will have the luxury of not having to face former Rams running back Kapri Bibbs. A one-year wonder, he left for the NFL after rushing for 1,741 yards and 31 touchdowns last season, and ran for 312 yards on Nevada last season. But, his replacement, Alabama transfer and senior Dee Hart, is no slouch either. Hart is ranked sixth in the MWC with 453 rushing yards to go along with four touchdowns.
LB DAVIS AND DL KAWULOK SPEARHEADS RAMS FRONT SEVEN
While Fajardo did have an off-game against Boise State, Polian did not place all the blame on his quarterback. In fact, Fajardo kept Nevada in the game by combining for five total touch- downs, but the Pack was unable to overcome those early turnovers.
Fajardo and the rest of the Nevada offense will need to have similar scoring success this week against Colorado State if they want to keep pace with the Rams’ potent attack. However, this might be a tough task as Colorado State is currently ranked third in the MWC in scoring defense, only allowing 22.6 points per game.
Leading the way for the Rams are linebacker Aaron Davis and defensive lineman Joe Kawulok. The former is ranked third in the MWC with 47 total tackles and the latter leads the conference with 3.5 sacks. The Wolf Pack rushing attack had moderate success against the Boise State defense and it should have even more against Colorado State as the Rams are allowing over 200 yards on the ground this season.
While he struggled last game, Fajardo mentioned at the end of the Boise State contest that he is man enough to take the blame for the loss. Now it’s up to the rest of his team to rally around their quarterback.
Chris Boline can be reached at email@example.com.