Defense performs better than 37-24 loss to Toledo suggests
There was legitimate concern how Nevada’s secondary, fresh off allowing 352 passing yards at Northwestern, would handle Toledo’s aerial attack in Saturday’s home opener at Mackay Stadium.
The Rockets (2-0) are led by Heisman candidate Logan Woodside, who engineered one of the most efficient and explosive passing games in college football last year.
But the secondary, and defense as a whole, largely held its own. It was the offense, for a second straight week, that largely factored in a loss, this a 37-24 defeat in front of an announced crowd of 18,617. The inability to sustain drives resulted in a massive time of possession disparity. Toledo held the ball for over 40 minutes.
Drives routinely stalled in the first half as the Rockets took a 20-10 lead to the locker room. It could have been much worse if not for a resilient defensive effort. Toledo’s average starting field position over the first 30 minutes was four yards across midfield. The boo birds even made an appearance a couple times as the punt team jogged onto the field.
Ty Gangi’s play behind center was once again sporadic. He completed 19-of-37 passes (51 percent) for 277 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His 75-yard touchdown pass to McLane Mannix with 3:36 left in the third pulled the home team within 34-24. Mannix led the team with six receptions for 139 yards and a score in just his second collegiate games.
All three of the Wolf Pack’s final possessions in the fourth quarter resulted in turnovers, denying any possibility of a comeback.
The undoing of the defense last year, run defense, was impressive for a second straight week. Nevada held Toledo to 194 yards on 60 attempts (3.2 yards/carry), one week after limiting Northwestern to 3.1 yards/carry.
Woodside was 19-of-27 for 232 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, thanks to a generous call that loomed large early. With six minutes left in the first half and Toledo leading 17-7, Woodside threw a pass into the right flat that Vosean Crumbie appeared to intercept off a deflection and returned into the red zone.
A lengthy replay determined the ball grazed the FieldTurf, making the pass incomplete. So instead of being set up inside the 20 with the chance to make it a three-point game, Nevada sent the defense back onto the field. Toledo went on to add a field goal, stretching the lead to 20-3.
The Wolf Pack struggled on third down again, moving the chains on just 5-of-13 third-down snaps (38 percent). It was 5-of-14 at Northwestern.
Nevada’s defense was formidable despite playing most of the game without junior starting safety Asauni Rufus. He was ejected midway through the first quarter for targeting.