#62 Nevada Football 2014 Preview

Nevada Wolf Pack
Overall Rank: #62
#4 Mountain West
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The second year of Brian Polian’s tenure looks like it will be better than the first.  After a 4-8 record in 2013, the team is starting to take shape in Polian’s image.  There is a solid foundation for him to work with.  The defense should be better this season after underperforming last year.  They also add a new coordinator in Scott Boone, who should have an effective game plan coming from William and Mary.  The offense is in the capable hands of Cody Fajardo, a four-year starter.  The Wolf Pack were in some tight conference games last year (UNLV, BYU).  Another year of familiarity for the coaching staff will hopefully reverse their fortunes over the course of the season.
2013 Record: 4-8, 3-5
2013 Bowl: None
Coach: Brian Polian (4-8 at Nevada, 4-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Nick Rolovich
Defensive Coordinator: Scott Boone
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kendall Brock, RB, 812 yards
Passing: Cody Fajardo, QB, 2,668 yards
Receiving: Richy Turner, WR, 755 yards
Tackles: Jonathan McNeal, LB, 103
Sacks: Brock Hekking, DE, 9.0
Interceptions: 6 tied with 1


Other Key Returnees: RB Don Jackson, WR Hasaan Henderson, LB Matthew Lyons, LB Jordan Dobrich, CB Charles Carrett, CB Evan Favors, K Brent Zuzo
Key Losses: WR Brandon Wimberly, OL Joel Bitonio, DB Markus Smith, P Chase Tenpenny


A great benefit to any young coach is veteran leadership.  At the very least Polian will have some seasoned players going into the 2014 campaign.  Not many programs get to start the same quarterback all four years.  Cody Fajardo has amassed over 7,000 yards and completes 68% of his passes.  He is a sharp quarterback that can execute offenses with precision (he only threw three interceptions last season).  He is a preseason second team All-MW candidate.  In addition, the Wolf Pack have nine of 11 starters returning on defense.  Despite their troubles on that side of the ball last year, the same group with a new, savvy coordinator should bode well for this year’s group.  Prized defensive end Brock Hekking returns.  He was one of the top sack artists in the country last season.


Nevada was outmatched in a lot of cases last season.  They could not keep anyone out of the endzone, nor could they stop elite passers.  The hope is that Scott Boone can come in and turn around such a porous unit.  The red zone was a nightmare for them as opponents scored 89% of the time.  In the second year, another important issue for Polian to address is his team’s ability to play on the road.  They went 0-6 away from Mackay Stadium last season.  A lot of this team’s depth is also comprised of redshirt freshman and sophomores.  While it bodes well for the future, some of the players could be a bit green early on.  


The Bottom Line:
Nevada has an opportunity to make headway in the Mountain West.  It would be unrealistic for them to win the conference title, but it appears Polian is molding a program and building it in his vision.  Hiring Boone to assist the defense should pay dividends quickly.  Bringing in and playing his own recruits should reflect his coaching style more so than last year.  Fajardo will be one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league this season.  He should continue to play well.  The Wolf Pack also has an opportunity to get a few L’s back.  Their toughest conference games – including Boise State and San Diego State – are at home this season.


Projected Bowl: New Mexico Bowl


2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 179.0 (51st in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 250.3 (45, 8)
Total Offense: 429.3 (45, 6)
Scoring Offense: 26.9 (75, 11)
Rushing Defense: 258.5 (122, 12)
Pass Defense: 246.8 (85, 4)
Total Defense: 505.3 (117, 11)
Scoring Defense: 34.4 (102, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.6 (23, 2)
Sacks:  1.75 (82, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.17 (72, 8)