#93 Nevada Football 2017 Preview

Nevada Wolf Pack
Overall Rank: #93
#8 Mountain West
Nevada finished strong last season, but that only led to a 5-7 record. However, that was enough for the Wolf Pack to part ways with Brian Polian and bring in Jay Norvell to take over the program. Coach Norvell has been all over the collegiate landscape as an offensive assistant coach and he will take a shot at revitalizing a somewhat down Nevada program.
2016 Record: 5-7, 3-5
2016 Bowl: None
Coach: Jay Norvell (0-0 at Nevada, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Mumme
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Casteel
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: James Butler, RB, 1,336 yards
Passing: Ty Gangi, QB, 1,301 yards
Receiving: Wyatt Demps, WR, 686 yards
Tackles: Asauni Rufus, DB, 95
Sacks: Malik Reed, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Jaden Sawyer, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Jaxson Kincaide, WR Andrew Celis, OL Austin Corbett, LB Gabriel Sewell, DB Dameon Baber, DE Jarid Joseph
Key Losses: QB Tyler Stewart, WR Hasaan Henderson, WR Jerico Richardson, LB Alex Bertrando, DB Elijah Mitchell
Nevada should have a very good offense this year. Running back James Butler rushed for 1,336 yards and a dozen touchdowns last season and Jaxson Kincaide will again be a solid backup. The offensive line has a little rebuilding to do, but when Nevada wants to run the ball, they will be able to do so. However, the Wolf Pack will want to pass most of the time. Quarterback Ty Gangi returns after stepping into a starting role late last season. He threw for 1,301 yards and eight touchdowns with six interceptions. He also rushed for 217 yards and three more scores. But he will get plenty of competition from Alabama transfer David Cornwell. Cornwell had a great spring and either way Nevada is in good shape at quarterback. They are pretty strong at wide receiver too with the return of Hasaan Henderson, Andrew Celis and Wyatt Demps, who led the team with 686 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
The Wolf Pack’s run defense was atrocious last year. They allowed nearly 300 yards per game on the ground and the opposition rarely needed to even think about throwing the ball. It can only get better and with a new coaching staff and a much more experienced front seven, it could get significantly better in a hurry. Time will tell whether or not players like Malik Reed, Jarid Joseph and Gabriel Sewell will get better with experience and make a significant improvement to the defense. If the unit does improve, the secondary will be tested much more often. Safeties Asauni Rufus and Dameon Baber are three year starters and provide some stability in the secondary. Kendall Johnson has started for a couple of years at cornerback and Coach Norvell has added some junior college transfers to help bolster the unit.
The Bottom Line:
This Nevada team has a lot of potential to quickly turn things around. The pieces are there for the Wolf Pack to be a very competitive team in the Mountain West. A bowl game should be the goal and it is an obtainable goal. Nevada has always been an interesting program. There has not been much success without Coach Chris Ault and many coaches have tried to keep up with the success he brought to the program. This is yet another opportunity for Nevada to move on from the shadow cast by Coach Ault and Coach Norvell has the talent on this roster to immediately improve Nevada and move the program in the right direction.
Projected Bowl: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 174.0 (64th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 208.2 (92, 7)
Total Offense: 382.2 (88, 9)
Scoring Offense: 25.4 (91, 9)
Rushing Defense: 297.6 (128, 12)
Pass Defense: 158.4 (4, 1)
Total Defense: 456.0 (107, 11)
Scoring Defense: 29.0 (71, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.33 (36, 3)
Sacks: 1.08 (123, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (44, 7)