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Nevada Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/20/2008
No. 81 Nevada Wolf Pack
2007 Record ~ 6-7 SU ~ 5-7 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (8) Defense (4)
Nevada made it three straight bowl games after making it to the New Mexico Bowl last season and the goal is even higher this year. With an offense that can compete with any team in the WAC, the Wolf Pack are thinking WAC Championship. Head coach Chris Ault is in his fifth season of his third tenure and he has done a great job of turning his team into a perennial top half team in the conference. Now it is time to make the big jump but that jump will be up to a defense that can make or break the season.
Offensively, many teams would like to have the problem that Nevada has. The Wolf Pack are blessed with two quarterbacks who could start on a lot of teams and deciding who actually takes the team is the issue. Nick Graziano was the starting quarterback for five games before he broke his foot and then Colin Kaepernick stepped in for the rest of the season. The duo combined for 3,294 yards, 29 touchdowns and just eight picks. With all other weapons back, whoever wins the job should prosper.
If only the defense had such a similar problem. Nevada is bringing back only four starters to a unit that finished 95th in scoring defense and 76th in total defense. Even worse, the Wolf Pack finished 7th in the conference in points allowed and if a conference crown is to be attained, that ranking needs to improve dramatically. Nevada hired a new defensive coordinator in Nigel Burton and he is switching the defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and that can help based on speed on the outside. It will be an ongoing process however.
The schedule has both good and bad for the Wolf Pack and the latter could prevent a big move this season. It starts with Grambling St., followed by Texas Tech at home and then at Missouri. A trip to UNLV should be a victory before the WAC season commences. The first three games should be easy wins then it is a swing game at Hawaii followed by another roadie at Fresno St. Nevada does get Boise St. at home. After an 11-2 ATS mark in 2006, it fell to 5-7 ATS in 2007 and it probably wonâ€™t be much better in 2008.