Nevada Preview 2006
Nevada Wolf Pack
Posted Aug 9, 2006

Nevada runs four wide receiver sets (or three receivers and a tight end) with only one back in something called the "Pistol" offense. So this must be a fancy, finesse offense, right?

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

It's anything but.

Oh sure, Nevada wings it around as well as anyone in the WAC averaging 250 yards per game last year, but it became co-conference champions because quick backs Robert Hubbard and B.J. Mitchell could pound the ball behind a great line. It helped the stats to have a running quarterback like Jeff Rowe, too.

Mitchell is gone, but seven starters return on an offense that finished 14th in the nation and 15th in scoring. It's a high-powered attack that hit its stride over the second half of the season averaging close to 41 points per game over the final five finishing up with 49 points in a thrilling Hawaii Bowl overtime win over UCF.

Head coach: Chris Ault
21st year: 177-73-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 16, Def. 21, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best Pack Players
1. QB Jeff Rowe, Sr.
2. RB Robert Hubbard, Sr.
TE Anthony Podewell, Sr.
OG Barrett Reznick, Sr.
5. LB Ezra Butler, Jr.
6. CB Joe Garcia, Sr.
WR Caleb Spencer, Sr.
SS Nick Hawthrone, Sr.
9. DE J.J. Milan. Sr.
10. DE C
harles Wilson, Sr.  

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 8-4

9/1 at Fresno State
9/9 at Arizona State
9/16 Colorado State
9/22 Northwestern
9/30 at UNLV
10/7 at Hawaii
10/21 San Jose State
10/28 New Mexico State
11/4 at Idaho
11/11 Utah State
11/18 at Louisiana Tech
11/25 Boise State

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-5
2005 Record: 9
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/9 Washington St L 55-21
9/17 UNLV W 22-14
9/24 at Colorado St L 42-21
10/1 at San Jose St W 30-23
10/8 Idaho W 62-14
10/15 Louisiana Tech W 37-27
10/29 at Boise State L 49-14
11/5 Hawaii W 38-28
11/12 at NMSU W 48-24
11/19 at Utah State W 30-24
11/26 Fresno State W 38-31
12/23 Hawaii Bowl
UCF W 49-48 OT

Hall of fame head coach Chris Ault returned to the program to restore the glory achieved in his first run with the program, and he succeeded as well as anyone could've hoped with the first winning season since 1998 and the first nine-win season since 1996. Not only is Nevada a major threat in the WAC, it has the potential to be a big-time thorn in the sides of early opponents Arizona State and Northwestern.

This is a dangerous team with a scary mix of veterans and confidence. There's decent depth at some spots, but the margin is razor thin in others needing more offensive tackles to emerge and needing a reliable second and third option behind Hubbard in the backfield.

The defense had a hard time stopping anyone last year, but defenses never put up great stats in the WAC. Seven starters return including end/linebacker J.J. Milan and safety Nick Hawthrone from injuries, while the front seven is big, experienced, and should be better against the run.

No, this is hardly a soft team by any stretch, and now it'll go into the season needing that toughness to deal with high expectations. Ault has proven he can step back into the game and be one of the best coaches. Now he has to prepare his team for even more success. Don't expect Nevada to slip any time soon.

The Schedule: It doesn't start out pretty, but it ends with nice kick. September is the key to a big season, especially the opener on September 1st at Fresno State, which could make or break WAC title hopes for each team. At Arizona State follows with home dates with Colorado State and Northwestern to deal with before going back on the road to face UNLV and Hawaii. Nevada can realistically shoot for a 4-2 start, but two of those wins had better be over the Bulldogs and Warriors. Then things take a nice, soft turn with the dregs of the conference before finishing with a tough road date at Louisiana Tech and the big WAC showdown with Boise State.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Jeff Rowe. He stopped making mistakes, started spreading the ball around better, and became comfortable with the offense finishing second in the league in total offense. Now he should be even better and make a strong run for WAC Player of the Year honors.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Ezra Butler. Cornerback Joe Garcia has received most of the recognition and praise, but Butler is the leading returning tackler on the strongside and a tone setter for the defense. He should be even better with the return of J.J. Milan and Nick Hawthrone to add more playmakers to free him up.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore G Greg Hall. Nevada is full of guards but weak on tackles so it had to move a few players to the outside to fill the holes leaving little depth at guard. The 285-pound Hall has to shine right away so the coaching staff doesn't have to switch any of the

The season will be a success if ... Nevada wins the WAC title. It won't be easy with road games at Fresno State, Hawaii and Louisiana Tech, but Boise State has to come to Reno and the second half of the schedule is too nice not to go on a run. After last year, anything less than a title would be a disappointment.

Key game: Sept. 1 at Fresno State. The Bulldogs are going to want payback after last year's 38-31 nationally televised loss, but Nevada has to win the rematch to set the tone for the rest of the year. The next WAC game is at Hawaii, which will become a must-win if there's a loss on opening day.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Nevada third quarter scoring: 67 - Nevada fourth quarter scoring: 137
- Time of possession: Nevada 33:12 - Opponents 26:48
- Third down conversions: Nevada 89 of 192 (49%) - Opponents 59 of 161 (37%)

The Last Time Nevada…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Hawaii Bowl vs. UCF)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…1994 (Arkansas State)
…was shutout…1980 (Weber State)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Idaho)
…went undefeated…never
…won a conference title…2005 (share, WAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2002 (Zack Threadgill)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (B.J. Mitchell)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2004 (Nichiren Flowers)
…had a first-round draft choice…never

Related Stories
Nevada Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 9, 2006
Nevada Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 9, 2006
Nevada Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 9, 2006

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