As anticipated, Nevada moved to 1-0 this season with a 31-17 home win over UC Davis last Thursday.
The offense looked sharp under the direction of new starter, junior quarterback Tyler Stewart. Third-year coach Brian Polian was pleased with Stewart’s performance and numerous other teammates applauded his leadership.
The defense was stout against a ho-hum offense. The unit will be relied upon to carry the load much of the season and Thursday was certainly a step in the right direction.
Things get much more difficult, although, on Saturday when No. 22 Arizona comes to town. Kickoff at Mackay Stadium is at 4 p.m. It is the first of two brutal non-conference games for Nevada which heads to Texas A&M for the program’s first game against an SEC opponent next weekend.
Arizona edged Nevada, 35-28, in Tucson last season.
About the Wildcats
Conference Affiliation: Pac-12
Coach: Rich Rodriguez, fourth season (27-14)
2014 Finish: 10-4, Pac-12 South champions
Quarterback: Anu Solomon is not the prototypical redshirt sophomore looking to find his way. Solomon, a Bishop Gorman product, was the first ever freshman to start an Arizona opener a season ago, starting all 14 contests and earning Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 accolades. He threw for 3,793 yards and 28 touchdowns. Solomon completed 22-of-36 passes for 229 yards with four touchdowns in Arizona’s season-opening 42-32 home win over Texas—San Antonio.
Dangerous Weapons: Junior wide receiver Cayleb Jones and sophomore running back Nick Wilson are a prolific compliment to Solomon under center. Jones broke the 1,000-yard barrier a season ago while Wilson, as a freshman, ran for 1,375 and 16 touchdowns. Jones was relatively quiet in the opener, grabbing three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown while Wilson racked up 103 yards on 22 carries but did not find the end zone.
What to look for
-Arizona will be without defending Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Scooby Wright. The preseason All American linebacker, tore the meniscus in his left knee during the opener and is expected to miss up to a month with hopes to play in the Pac-12 opener. “I think he (Wright) is a great football player and I love watching him play,” Nevada coach Brian Polian said. “He’s a two-star recruit that nobody recruited. He’s not one of these guys that took pictures of all the letters he got in the mail. He’s not ‘look at me, look at me.’ He’s just a rough, tough football player.”
-Nevada’s young secondary was rarely tested in the opener against UC Davis as the Aggies chose to go underneath most of the night. That will almost certainly not be the case Saturday when Arizona’s strong passing attack comes to Mackay.
-Can the offensive line back last week’s performance? Polian was not happy with a few penalties and a pair of sacks allowed against UC Davis but The Union was impressive in pass protection and opened massive holes for Don Jackson and James Butler against a stacked box. It won’t be nearly that simple against the size and speed of a Pac-12 opponent.
-It is fair to assume the Wildcats had a tough week at practice after fighting off an upset scare from Texas—San Antonio at home in their opener. Arizona will come into Mackay with something to prove.
The two programs are becoming awfully familiar with each other. Saturday will mark the third time in four years the two have squared off. Last year, Nevada nearly pulled off the upset in Tucson before falling 35-28. In 2012, the Chris Ault led Pack lost a heartbreaker, 49-48, to the Wildcats in the New Mexico Bowl. Beating a Pac-12 opponent wouldn’t be anything new for Nevada either after beating Washington State at home a season ago. But Washington State is one of the worst programs in the conference. The same cannot be said for Arizona.
Arizona 34, Nevada 20