#40 Nevada Football 2021 Preview

Nevada Wolf Pack
Overall Rank: #40
#2 Mountain West
 Nevada Logo
Coach Jay Norvell had a disappointing debut season back in 2017. But since then, the Wolf Pack have been one of the best teams in the Mountain West Conference. Last year the team finished 7-2 overall and there are reasons to hope this group will be even better.
2020 Record: 7-2, 6-2
2020 Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Tulane (W 38-27)
Coach: Jay Norvell (25-22 at Nevada, 25-22 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Mumme
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Ward
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Toa Taua, RB, 675 yards
Passing: Carson Strong, QB, 2,858 yards
Receiving: Romeo Doubs, WR, 1,002 yards
Tackles: Lawson Hall, LB, 65           
Sacks: Dom Peterson, DT, 4.5
Interceptions: Tyson Williams, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Devonte Lee, TE Cole Turner, WR Tory Horton, OL Aaron Frost, OL Jacob Gardner, OL Jermaine Ledbetter, OL Tyler Orsini, LB Daiyan Henley, DE Sam Hammond, DB BerDale Robins, K Brandon Talton, P Julian Diaz
Key Losses: DB EJ Muhammad
Last year Nevada ranked 12th in the nation in passing offense and 30th in total offense. It was an exciting offense. And with all 11 starters returning, it will get even better. Quarterback Carson Strong is an NFL prospect who threw for 2,858 yards and 27 touchdowns in nine games. More impressively, he completed 70.1 percent of his attempts and was intercepted just four times. The return of Elijah Cooks will provide Strong with another impressive receiving option. Cooks missed last year, but in 2019 led the team with 76 catches for 926 yards. Romeo Doubs emerged as Strong’s favorite target in 2020, catching 58 passes for 1,002 yards and nine scores. Tight end Cole Turner added 49 catches for 605 yards and nine more touchdowns. The ground game is impressive too thanks to Toa Taua, who has led the Wolf Pack in rushing each of the last three seasons. Devonte Lee is a nice change of pace back too.
The front four is one of the most experienced in the country. Tackle Dom Peterson headlines the group and recorded 4.5 sacks last year, while end Sam Hammond added 4.0 sacks. The linebackers were inconsistent in 2020, but have plenty of experience led by middle linebacker Lawson Hall. The problem last season was in the secondary. Just about everybody is back, but Nevada will hope transfers like Isaiah Essissima from Wake Forest and Bentlee Sanders from South Florida can make a big difference.
The Bottom Line:
All of Nevada’s experience will need to pay off right away. Perhaps the three toughest games on the schedule come in the first four games. And all are on the road. It starts with a trip to Berkeley to take on Cal on September 4th. Two weeks later, Nevada heads to Kansas State. And two weeks after that, the Mountain West title could be on the line in the conference opener when the Wolf Pack take on Boise State. Those three games could go a long way in determining Nevada’s season.
Projected Bowl:  Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 122.3 (108th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 319.1 (12, 2)
Total Offense: 441.4 (30, 2)
Scoring Offense: 30.8 (46, 3)
Rushing Defense: 138.1 (36, 6)
Pass Defense: 239.6 (73, 9)
Total Defense: 377.7 (42, 7)
Scoring Defense: 23.3 (33, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (60, 7)
Sacks: 2.56 (42, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.22 (64, 5)