The Nevada Wolf Pack improved to 2-8 after Saturday’s 59-14 win over the San Jose State Spartans to help solidify what team would bottom out the Mountain West. Although this victory is just a drop in the bucket, it did place a positive spin on a rather bleak Pack football season.
Nevada’s offense has been smoldering hot as of late. Even taking into account the outlier score of 14 at Boise State, the Nevada offense is averaging 39.25 points over the course of their last four games. Ty Gangi was thrown into the deep end to start the season. He managed to stay afloat in the beginning but has since begun swimming fluid laps within the offensive scheme. Against the Spartans he put up a 92.2 QBR, throwing for three touchdowns and 232 yards on 16 completions. Receiver Wyatt Demps was Gangi’s main target with seven receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Along with the air raid going according to plan, Nevada’s ground attack went swimmingly. Kelton Moore received the bulk of the carries, garnering 79 yards on 20 rushes. Blake Wright and Gangi recorded Nevada’s two rushing touchdowns.
For the majority of the Pack’s 2017 campaign, the defense has been the missing piece to creating an indomitable Nevada squad. The defense was the problem child, but something clicked on Saturday starting with defensive back Dameon Baber’s three interceptions, two of which he scored a touchdown on, along with his special team touchdown in the first quarter from a blocked punt return. This performance earned Baber a spot in the NCAA record books. With the San Jose State game included, Nevada’s defense is allowing 34.9 points a game on the season. So the fact that the defense held San Jose State to just 14 points is a good start, but it’s important to take into account the fact that the Spartans are far from a good team, as they sit alone at the bottom of the Mountain West Conference.
If we’re comparing past and present football coaches of Nevada, Jay Norvell still has the ability to match Brian Polian’s first season at Nevada with a 4-8 record. Granted this means Nevada would have to defeat the Aztecs at home this Saturday, which doesn’t seem very likely, but upsets happen every day, right?
Neither Norvell or Polian were able to compare to Chris Ault in his first season at Nevada in 1976. While the Pack was in Division II at the time, Ault posted an 8-3 record. When Nevada finally joined division I-AA NCAA football as an independent in 1978 going 11-1, they fell short of a title losing in the semifinals.
This is a fragment. Ault will always be the measuring stick for head football coaches at Nevada, but Norvell’s first season should trump his most recent predecessor’s feats for a bigger buy-in from the greater Reno, Sparks, Nevada, area.
The Wolf Pack looks to improve to 3-8 on the season with the team’s upcoming game, Saturday, Nov. 18 at San Diego State University. Kick off starts at 7:30 p.m. against the 8-2 Aztecs.