The Nevada Wolf Pack (0-1) travel to Fort Collins to play the Colorado State Rams (2-0) in a Western Athletic Conference vs. Mountain West Conference showdown. So far this year the MWC is 2-0 against the WAC. CSU is vying for their first 3-0 start since 1994, which was the first year they were ranked in the top 25. After a bye week Nevada is looking to get back on track to last year's 35 points per game average, Nevada lost 0 - 35 to Notre Dame in week one.
Nevada is led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick who threw for 149 yards and two interceptions in the season opener. Kaepernick has no problems scrambling with 161 rushing attempts last year. The key to the Nevada offense is talented running back Vai Taua who dashed for 114 yards on 18 carries against ND. Look for Nevada to use the run as their means to move the ball. Even in a 35-0 loss they ran the ball more then they passed.
On defense the Wolf Pack must get some pressure on Ram QB Grant Stucker who is still adjusting to Steve Fairchild's offense. Nevada recorded zero sacks or turnovers in their first game allowing Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen to complete 15 of 18 passes for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns. Nevada did manage 7 tackles for a loss.
3rd down conversions have been the demise of the CSU offense, only three conversions on the season and none last week. When they keep drives moving they have been productive, 7 of 8 in the red zone. Stucker is only 4 for 11 on 3rd down passes this year with two first downs. He will have to spread the ball out better then last week as well.
I would like to see Stucker tuck it and run a few times, he was used as a running QB last year, but has abandoned that part of his game this year. CSU can't abandon the inside run game, last weeks 4th and 1 sweep against a DII school was a bit embarrassing. RB Leonard Mason did a good job in his first start but wore down, with RB John Mosure planning to play it should boost the running game.
So far the Rams run defense, ranked 9th nationally, have only allowed 87 yards on 57 attempts, but Taua is easily the most talented back they have faced yet. They will also have to guard against the scrambles of QB Kaepernick. Line Backers Mychal Sisson and Alex Williams will need to have big games due to injuries around the team if the Rams want to slow the Nevada run game.
Starting cornerback Gerard Thomas is doubtful and nickel back DeAngelo Wilkinson will step up in his place, he will have to be physical in the run game. Thomas has been returning punts so look for Dion Morton to take his place there. Also leading tacklers on the defensive line Ty Whittier and Cory Macon are questionable for the game leaving the possibility for some inexperience on the line.
I think this game lies on a healthy John Mosure. If the Rams get him back in uniform at 100% they can control the clock and it will help keep Stucker out of 3rd and long situations. If not Nevada will win the clock battle and run all day against a depleted defense and force Stucker to the air more than the Rams would like.
Injury News as of 9/17
CSU: Doubtful; Gerard Thomas (knee). Questionable; TJ Borcky (Illness), Josh Gabler (Wrist), Ivory Herd (Thumb), Cory Macon (Hip), Ty Whittier (Stinger), Shelley Smith (Ankle). Probable; John Mosure (Head)
Nevada: None Listed