Throughout the year Nevada as often been able to keep up or even out play teams in the first half. Games like Boise State, Fresno State, and UCLA support that claim. But in the second half of games there have been collapses. None of that happened on Saturday. Nevada played its best full game from start to finish on the year and beat SJSU 38-16.
Three Reasons Nevada Won:
1) Rush defense. The Wolf Pack on the year have had one of the worst run defenses in the nation. Numerous times on the year opposing running backs have gone for 150+ yards, but against San Jose State, the Wolf Pack held the Spartans to only 58 yards on the ground. That was due in part to efforts from players like defensive tackles Jordan Hanson and Rykeem Yates and linebacker Matthew Lyons. All three were around the ball all night.
2) The Tampa 2. When Nevada switched this year to the Tampa 2 defense, the goal was to force teams to make long drives, but have them end in field goals rather than touchdowns. The thought being if you force a team to drive 10 plays and 80 yards, they will make a mistake at some point. And this game that worked. Three times in the first half San Jose State was forced to come away from a successful drive with only three points. The defensive ends got pressure on opposing quarterback David Fales all night which had a lot to do with the overall success of the defense which did not allow a second half score.
3) Special Teams. Nevada coach Brian Polian is a special teams guy and that unit this year as been a bit of a disappointment. But not this week. There was life in the punt return game with Joe Huber and in the kickoff return game with Jerico Richardson who had the longest kickoff return on the year. Punter Chase Tenpenny was also able to pin the Spartans within their own 10 yard line all night giving the field position advantage to the Pack.
Next up for the Spartans is a home game this coming Friday, November 22nd against Navy. For Nevada they have a bye week, then end the season at home against BYU.