Nevada is hosting BYU on Saturday afternoon in a very late non-conference season. The Wolf Pack's 2013 season has not gone as planned since they are missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2004, and that was former head coach Chris Ault's first year back as head coach.
This Nevada team has struggled on offense mainly due to not being able find a reliable running back. Don Jackson, Kendall Brock and Chris Solomon have had their decent games but nothing consistent overall. Not having a good running back that can perform well each and every week does not good for this pistol offense.
BYU's defense is not one a team wants to go up against and not have a good running game. The Cougars rush defense is just average in yards per game nationally, but they have gone up against some teams with good backs from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Boise State and others.
The Cougars rush defense is lead by a good front seven which include Kyle Van Noy, Spencer Hadley, Bronson Kaufusi and Eathyn Manumaleuna. BYU can be run upon and have historically struggled against mobile quarterbacks, so if Nevada is going to have a good game on the ground they need quarterback Cody Fajardo to run the pistol to a near perfection. Of course they need one of their three running backs to help as well.
Another way that Nevada could make a difference is getting the ball to their talented wide receiver Brandon Wimberly. The BYU secondary can be suspect at times and getting Wimberly involved early in often is the way to go if an upset is to be had. Getting the ball to Wimberly will require Nevada to protect Fajardo long enough, and BYU has a solid pass rush; however, their front seven play has diminished over the past few weeks.
Getting the offense on track is a big deal, but this game will come down to the defense stopping BYU's uptempo attack. Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill is very similar to Fajardo in that they both are capable of running the ball and throwing, too. Hill is more likely to take the ball and run on a read-option or take off with the ball if a receiver is not open. He is very talented at taking off and running the ball.
He also has improved on his accuracy which is making him an even more dangerous player. Nevada will need to pressure Hill because it seems once the pocket collapses or he is forced into a quick throw those passes are wildly off the mark. BYU's offensive line has improved early on but there are still times where they have been known to give up big plays.
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman is another key player that Nevada needs to focus on. Hoffman is going to be a future NFL Draft pick -- possibly in the first four rounds -- and can catch nearly anything his way. Look for the Wolf Pack defense to spend some extra man power covering Hoffman. T
Then there is running back Jamaal Williams who is also a playmaker. Williams has big play ability and is a workhorse back who could easily see 30 or more carries on Saturday. He can go between the tackles or break to the outside with his speed.
At the end of the day, BYU looks to have too many weapons on offense while Nevada does not have the manpower to stop this offense. This game should be close for at least a half, but expect BYU to pull away in the second half of the game.
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