College Football Preview: The 2014 Nevada Wolfpack
Potential is the name of the game for Nevada football in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
The Nevada Wolfpack hope for a return to the postseason in Brian Polian's second season at the helm.
Overview: Nevada fell to 4-8 in Polian's first year which put an end to eight consecutive Bowl appearances. In 2014 he needs quarterback Cody Fajardo at 100% the entire year and his defense to make stops which didn't happen often enough a season ago.
USA TODAY Sports
Offense: Fajardo hurt his knee early on and it was questionable if he ever fully recovered although he threw for over 2,600 yards and ran for another 762 out of the Pistol. Kendall Brock (184-808) led the team in rushing but averaged less then 4.5 yards per touch while Don Jackson (83-332) averaged just four as defenses stacked the line to prevent getting burned on the ground. Leading receiver Brandon Wimberly takes 989 yards to graduation leaving Richy Turner, Aaron Bradley and Hasaan Henderson as the top three receiving targets. The O-Line gets five players back with starting experience but lose All MWC LT Joel Bitonio.
Defense: The good news is Nevada ran a ten man rotation on the defensive line and eight return. The bad news is this group struggled to make stops on the ground. Brock Hekking led the team with 13.5 TFL and eight sacks but this group as a whole needs to up their game. Experience is not an issue at linebacker with the top five back including Jonathan McNeal and Matthew Lyons who combined 155 stops. Again, experience in the secondary is the good news with seven of the top nine returning and were decent pass defenders as a whole but we have to consider that opponents generally kept the ball on the ground for good reason.
Special Teams: Punter Chase Tenpenny and his 45 yard average are gone and his big leg will be missed in the field position battle while Brent Zuzo went 14-17 on field goals including 5-6 from 40+ yards. Nigel Westbrooks and Jerico Richardson will split kick return duties but a punt returner is needed.
Outlook: If the experience accounts for anything defensively the Wolfpack should see improvement but that's something we need to see play out. The offense has talent but lacked any kind of explosiveness in 2013. The bottom line is this team has potential but they have been in a slide the past several seasons and even some improvement might not be enough to go Bowling.