The Jay Norvell era officially starts on Saturday when Nevada starts the 2017 season on the road at Northwestern.
Nevada will be outmatched pretty much across the board.
Pat Fitzgerald is the second-longest tenured coach in the Big 10, entering his 12th season. Norvell will be standing on the sidelines as a head coach for the first time. Northwestern returns an all-conference running back. Nevada had the worst rushing defense in the country last year. Northwestern returns four starting offensive linemen. Nevada’s defensive line obviously struggled a season ago. Northwestern only allowed 13 passing touchdowns all season. Nevada will debut a new air-raid offense. And obviously, there will be a noticeable size disparity.
Outside expectations for this team are limited, so Saturday on the road against a legit Big 10 program will be largely about moral victories (Northwestern is favored by 24.5 points). The staff and players would never admit that, though.
How will the air-raid offense look? Will Nevada try to run like Norvell has preached it will all offseason? Can Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 defense show any signs of improvement following last year’s woes? Who will be the new key players to emerge? What can the green offensive line manage against Northwestern’s front?
By the end of the weekend, we won’t have to guess anymore.
Matheus Silva possibly returning to Reno
Matheus Silva would prefer for his name to be known for reasons on the field.
But that’s not the case in Reno. Since the Fourth of July, when most think about Silva, they don’t think about the 166 minutes he’s played for Reno 1868 FC. Instead, they think about him getting pulled unconscious from Lake Tahoe on the nation’s birthday.
The 20-year-old was resuscitated on the beach and remained in a coma for two days. Miraculously, he’s made a full recovery. Silva was on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes during the incident and is back training with the MLS squad.
Reno 1868 FC General Manager Andy Smith came on my radio show Friday and said Silva’s return to Reno this season is likely.
“I think he will,” Smith said. “That’s up to the ‘Quakes and what they want to do with him. Right now, they want him to spend some time with them so they can keep a close eye on him. But I think we’ll be seeing him.”
Reno has nine games left in the 32-game regular season. Four of those will be at Greater Nevada Field.
Telling 4A North matchups kick Friday
Eight of the 11 4A North teams played out-of-state competition the first week of the season. That will change on Friday.
Only two teams (Damonte Ranch and Spanish Springs) play non-Nevada squads, leaving four Northern Nevada matchups. Two are particularly intriguing.
Reno goes to Carson and Bishop Manogue travels to McQueen.
The first matchup features two fixtures in the regional playoffs. Reno is led by all-everything four-star prospect Brandon Kaho. Kaho will spend the night chasing down Carson’s lighting quick Abel Carter.
The second features two programs trying to become contenders. McQueen started the season with an impressive home win over a Lassen team that went 11-2 last year. Bishop Manogue is playing its second game of the Ernie Howren era and exploded for 60 points in the opener.
If you’re weighing your week two prep football options, those are the two games to choose from.
Nathan can be reached via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Wednesday morning. Nathan’s weekly radio show airs Fridays at noon on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM.