August 11, 2011

2011 Preview: Nevada Wolf Pack

It was a season of all seasons in 2010 for Nevada. The program burst through its never-finished-ranked drought and soared to its season-end ranking of 11 after defeating Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. The 13-1 finish included the memorable upset of Boise State and was only blemished by a slip-up on the islands, Hawaii-on-the-road still the Pack’s kryptonite. However, after unprecedented success, the 2011 season is full of question-marks.


The offense has a tall order in replacing two very dominant players. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick amassed an astonishing 14,210 yards of total offense in his career in Reno, but he has left to the city of his final college game after being drafted by the 49ers. Running back Vai Taua has also graduated, leaving the Biggest Little City in the World after averaging 1,492 rushing yards in each of the last three seasons.

Mike Ball hopes to keep Nevada's
run game flying high
Senior QB Tyler Lantrip will lead the offense in 2011, having thrown just 23 passes in three seasons of backup duty. While it is unlikely anyone can fill Taua’s shoes at RB, an experienced junior Mike Ball will step up. Ball has averaged about 800 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons.

On the defensive side, the hall-of-fame coach Chris Ault returns seven starters from last year’s defense, which gave a strong showing in the second half of the season. That defense will be anchored by LB James-Michael Johnson and CB Isaiah Frey, both of whom were selected to the All-WAC team last season.

The schedule is extremely rough to start the season for the Wolf Pack, as Nevada won’t play at home until the second week of October. Drawing a Week 1 bye, the Pack travels to Oregon, San Jose State, Texas Tech, and Boise State in its first four games. Fortunately for Nevada, they were able to schedule the dregs of the Mountain West in UNLV and New Mexico. Those games, combined with the conference schedule, should give Nevada just enough to qualify for a bowl.



Date/Time
TV
Opponent
Zach
Brett
Sat. 09/10/11
12:30 p.m. PT
FX
at Oregon
L
L
Sat. 09/17/11
1:00 p.m. PT
Altitude
at San Jose State
W
W
Sat. 09/24/11
4:00 p.m. PT
---
at Texas Tech
L
L
Sat. 10/01/11
11:30 a.m. PT
Versus
at Boise State
L
L
Sat. 10/08/11
1:05 p.m. PT
---
UNLV
W
W
Sat. 10/15/11
1:05 p.m. PT
---
NEW MEXICO
W
W
Sat. 10/22/11
1:05 p.m. PT
WSN
FRESNO STATE
L
L
Sat. 10/29/11
5:00 p.m. PT
WSN
at New Mexico State
W
W
Sat. 11/12/11
1:05 p.m. PT
---
HAWAII
L
W
Sat. 11/19/11
1:05 p.m. PT
---
LOUISIANA TECH
W
W
Sat. 11/26/11
12:00 p.m. PT
WSN
at Utah State
L
L
Sat. 12/03/11
1:05 p.m. PT
WSN
IDAHO
W
W

6-6
7-5
(schedule courtesy FBSchedules.com)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your predictions made me laugh and based on those predictions, you grossly underestimate the returning players and know nothing about Chris Ault's ability to develop QB's.

We have Fresno, Hawaii and LaTech at home. These are, by far, the toughest WAC teams and it is hard to see any of them coming away with a win. Beyond that, Utah State flat out sucks, year in and year out.

Anonymous said...

Fresno and Hawaii are better than UNR. It doesn't matter if the game is in Reno. Replacing Kap is not going to be easy. The whole damn offense was designed around him and Taua. Ault is terrific, but color me pessimistic that UNR doesn't take a step back. One year does not a program make.

Anonymous said...

Losing to Fresno at HOME? LMAO. They have no defense and will NOT be stopping even the Nevada second string offense.

Brett Hein said...

Definitely appreciate the feedback.

Chris Ault is a hall-of-famer for a reason ... but Nevada had 7,268 total yards of offense last season, and Kaepernick and Taua were responsible for 5,838 of it. Nevada hasn't exactly been a power, so it's hard for me to see them not taking a step back now that those two powerhouses are gone.

Patrick H said...

Nevada beat Fresno State in 2005 without Kaepernick (and with the pistol offense) when FSU had almost defeated USC and was ranked in the top 25. The only time Hawaii has ever won a game in Reno was their BCS year when Kaepernick was Nevada's QB...and Hawaii only won on a late FG. Certainly an argument can be made for Hawaii and FSU. But since both of those teams are also likely to take a step back this season there's plenty of reason to take Nevada as well. And anyone that knows Chris Ault knows that he always features a good QB and strong RBs. The RBs will actually be better than last season, QB will definitely see some drop off...but mostly in running not passing.

Paul said...

I don't see Nevada losing to Fresno this year, but hey, everyone's entitled to their own blog.

AyeRock559 said...

LOL @ Fresno no defense? Just remember you squeaked by last year with one point. Trust me, our defense will be more stacked up than before. We might have lost Carter and Jackson, but Hill has been focusing much more on the defense for this year. Besides playing at Nevada and your small 25-30k seat stadium won't be too much of a big deal.