As the Cougs get ready to head to Reno to take on the Wolf Pack, I wanted to take a look at how our respective offenses and defenses compare.
Both offenses rolled up around 540 yards of total offense in their openers, but did it in vastly different ways. The Wolf Pack had a balanced attack vs Southern Utah, where at first glance, it looks as if the Cougs didn't even run the ball vs Rutgers.
The bright side is that it took Nevada a while to get going (they were up 7-0 at half) and they were much less explosive per play than WSU. However, the final score probably looks a lot different if Cody Fajardo doesn't throw a pick six in the red zone with 2 minutes to go.
As a whole, they started slow, but were up 28-6 early in the fourth quarter before Southern Utah went 82 yards in 6 plays to make the final 10 minutes interesting.
While they had a better 3rd down conversion percentage than WSU, they also faced 22 3rd downs vs the Thunderbirds. The Cougar defense actually fared OK vs Rutgers in getting out of the 3rd down situations they found themselves in. That could be an area of opportunity for our boys in Crimson to tilt the tide in their favor.
On defense Nevada did a great job of getting off the field on 3rd down and limiting long pass plays. They gave up 7.1 yards per carry, but 71 of the 156 yards rushing they gave up came on one play.
Coming out of week 1 there are still a lot of unknowns for both teams. Nevada fared well against the pass, but according to ESPN, Southern Utah played both Aaron Cantu and Ammon Olsen at QB, with Cantu having a nice 9.85 yards per attempt and 1 touchdown pass over his 31 throws.
Connor Halliday shredded the Rutgers’ defense, but the Cougs had no answer on defense, didn't pressure Gary Nova and were pushed around on running plays.
Given the success Cantu had, I expect Halliday to put up some big numbers. Nevada still gave up 3 sacks vs Southern Utah, so hopefully Breske can make some adjustments to put pressure on Fajardo. I’m pretty nervous with the Cougs going against a duel threat QB, but I’m confident that Halliday and our WR corp will keep us in this game.
Here’s to Nevada starting slow, the Cougs starting fast and finding some ways to get off the field on 3rd down to put the ball back in Connor’s hands early and often.