One of the most asked questions by fans after Ault's departure was, is Nevada still going to run the pistol?
The answer: Yes. One of coach Brian Polian's first actions on campus as head coach was ensuring that he retained offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. With Rolovich on the staff, the base formation of the offense will look the same as in years past. The only difference will be the players in it. Let's take a look position by position at the projected depth chart.
There is no controversy or competition for the starting quarterback spot as incumbent Cody Fajardo looks to lead the Wolf Pack to a successful campaign in his junior season. Fajardo has seemingly mastered the pistol offense as he threw for nearly 2,800 yards and 20 touchdowns along with 1,121 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. The real competition is for the backup spot between junior Devin Combs and redshirt freshman Tyler Stewart. Combs likely has the upper hand due to his performance during his start at UNLV, for the injured Fajardo, in which he led a comeback being down by 21 points. Stewart though has by all accounts looked slightly better in practice and the scrimmage, but I find it hard to believe he will leap frog last year's backup Combs.
Depth Chart: Fajardo | Combs | Stewart
The early departure and loss of the nation's second leading rusher, Stefphon Jefferson, hurts the Wolf Pack in experience but likely won't in production as the pistol offense has churned out 1,000 yard rushers for the Wolf Pack on a nearly annual basis. Fall camp started with questions about who would be the starter, but Don Jackson has separated himself from the rest. A transfer from Iowa Western Community College, Jackson will get the majority of the carries this year despite having never taken a rush at the FBS level.
His backup, who has also taken carries with the first string offense is Kendall Brock. Brock in his first couple of years at Nevada has been primarily used as a return man, but will see his role vastly increased. If Jackson struggles early in adjusting to the higher level of competition, look for Brock to receive more carries and fight for the starting spot. Behind these two, all signs point to redshirt freshman Chris Soloman being the third running back, but will likely only receive carries if there is an injury.
Depth Chart: Jackson | Brock | Soloman
One of the solid positions on the team, in terms of starters, is wide receiver with all three starters returning. Brandon Wimberly, a sixth year senior, is one of the best in the Mountain West, and juniors Richy Turner and Aaron Bradley are both productive receivers who Fajardo trusts. Behind them only one other player has recorded a college reception, Joe Huber with three. The other receivers are all very inexperienced and will need to simply provide depth in case one of the starting three goes down with injury.
Receiver X: Wimberly | Huber
Receiver Y: Turner | Hassan Henderson
Receiver Z: Bradley | D'Andre Fuller
Kolby Arendse, 13 catches for 196 yards last year, looks to improve and step into a starter's role this year following the departure of Zach Sudfeld. Behind him will be Stephen Jeffers who is more of run blocking tight end rather than receiving tight end like Arendse.
Depth Chart: Arendse| Jeffers | Randy Horton
The Union, as it is referred, is one of proud traditions at Nevada where getting down and dirty in the trenches is celebrated. This year though the offensive line could become a weakness especially if one of the three projected starters, Joel Bitonio, Connor Talbott, or Matt Galas get injured. The offensive line is such a weak spot at this point in camp that a defensive lineman, Fred Lavulo, has switched to offensive line in an attempt to find depth.
OT: Bitonio | Braxton Issac
G: Talbott | Rogelio Moreno
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