2022 Nevada Wolf Pack Preview

by Matt Fargo

Nevada Wolf Pack

2021-22 Season Record 8-5 (5-3 MWC West) - 8-5-0 ATS - 9-4-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 2
Defense - 4

Overview

Talk about being thrown into the fire. First year head coach Ken Wilson, who was in the program for 21 years, inherits a team that was the most experienced in the country heading into last season with 22 returning starters to the least experienced coming into 2022 with only six starters back. Former head coach Scott Norvell left for Colorado St. and it seems as though he knew what was on the horizon in Reno so he took off when he could in a lateral coaching move. Nevada has had four straight winning seasons including an 8-5 record last season that included three losses by two points apiece and those eight wins are tied for the most since 2010 when the Wolf Pack went 13-1 and finished No. 11 in the AP Poll, the only time they have been ranked to end a season. This year looks to be a rebuild from the start especially with an incoming recruiting class ranked No. 116.

Offense

The Nevada offense did a lot of good things last season as they were No. 32 in total offense, No. 5 in passing offense and No. 15 in scoring offense but now it is basically starting over. Two starters are back, the running back and an offensive lineman and every other position will be up for grabs. Quarterback Carson Strong threw for 4,175 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions and will be impossible to replace and it will likely be either Shane Illingworth from Oklahoma St. or Nate Cox who threw only 43 passed last season for the Wolf Pack. The top five pass catchers are all gone and while there is some experience leftover, transfers will likely be called on to fill in. Running back Toa Taua led an anemic running game with 704 yards but popped with 5.1 ypc and was a great receiver out of the backfield. The offensive line will be filled with transfers as well.

Defense

The defense is not in as bad of shape but it is close. They were not asked to do much last season because of the potent offense and the Wolf Pack finished No. 83 in total defense and No. 51 in scoring defense, just enough to let the offense do its thing. Now it will be up to this side to try and lead the team until the offense can find its rhythm, it that will be even possible. Nevada was solid against the pass as it was No. 35 in passing efficiency defense which was No. 3 in the conference and this is the most experienced of the three levels which is a positive in the MWC. The safeties are fine and cornerback Darion Warren-Green is a great get from Michigan. The best returning player is defensive tackle Dom Peterson who is a fifth year starter with 150 tackles, 41.5 for loss, and 22 sacks. The rest of the line has to step up while the linebacking corps will be brand new.

2022 Season Outlook

A fifth straight winning season is unlikely but Wilson was around these parts for a while from 1989-2012 and gained great experience at Washington St. and Oregon for the last decade so while it will take time, he can succeed here. The fact he got 12 transfers to come to Nevada, the ninth most in the country, definitely says something and he can build on that moving forward. The schedule is in the favor of the Wolf Pack where they could steal a couple wins and remain competitive at home. They open at New Mexico St. and then host Texas St. and Incarnate Word so a 3-0 start would not be impossible and then they close out the nonconference slate at Iowa. There are three winnable MWC road games and they get Boise. St., Fresno St. and Diego St. all at home. The O/U win total is 5 and it is unplayable either way with no experience but a doable schedule to make up for it. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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