If you like high stakes drama, powerful suspense, and non-stop action, this 2015 Nevada football season is for you.
It reads more like an episode of "Days of Our Lives." One week, this team looks like they can compete to win the Western Division in the Mountain West. The next week, they look like they are in the cellar. One week, James Butler and Don Jackson look like the second coming of Vai Taua and Stephon Jefferson. The next week, they are stopped on every down by an inferior Wyoming defense.
On Saturday, Nevada took their fans on another roller coaster ride against Hawaii. For the first half, it looked like the Rainbow Warriors were going to walk away with the upset. But in the second half, the Wolf Pack got their act together and came behind for a 30-20 victory.
Despite a so-so performance from Tyler Stewart, the Pack were helped mostly in the running game by James Butler, who finished with 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nevada's defense pretty much shut down Hawaii in the second half, allowing the team to go on a 17-3 run to seal the deal.
The defense did a tremendous job in the second half stopping Max Wittek and limiting Hawaii's running game to just 34 yards on the day. Going into the bye week, the team gets a much needed rest, and they can really prepare for their game against Fresno State in two weeks at Bulldog Stadium.
Living in the Reno-Sparks area, you can hear some of the fans' cry to replace Brian Polian. In the last two and a half years at Nevada, he has compiled a record of 15-18, including a loss in the New Orleans Bowl. Polian is a nice man, and helps out wherever he can in the community. Despite this, it's a results oriented business, and some are wondering if he is the right man for this gig.
Jim Fannin, News Director at Newstalk 780 KOH in Reno and resident Nevada football expert thinks that Polian has gotten a bum rap.
"I think Polian is a very good football coach," Fannin told me on Tuesday. "In this town, the expectations are so high. Chris Ault was able to take 2 star guys on the roster and make that his football team. Polian isn't Chris Ault, so the fans have a tough time adjusting to that."
Brian Polian's Tenure at Nevada
|Year||School||G||W||L||T||Pct||SRS||SOS||AP Pre||AP High||AP Post||Bowl||Notes|
|2014||Nevada||13||7||6||0||0.538||-0.38||-2.14||New Orleans Bowl-L|
If the Wolf Pack can finish the year 6-6, then Polian is probably safe for next year. They've got a shot at going 5-4 when they face off against Fresno State on November 5th at Bulldog Stadium. The rest of their schedule features San Jose State, Utah State and San Diego State-could be tough ones.
San Jose State has shown flashes of goodness this year, despite being 4-4. Utah State blitzed Boise State a week and a half ago 52-26, but was blown out last weekend against San Diego State. And speaking of those Aztecs, they aren't a tough out either, Yes, they are 5-3, but are undefeated in the Mountain West with a 4-0 conference record. Their defense is magnificent, ranking 24th in the nation, giving up just 18.9 points a game, and their rushing game is also brilliant, averaging 202 yards a game on the ground.
The Mountain West is wild this year, and one of the teams that has given its fans the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows is Nevada. However, this team has superb talent on both sides of the football, and if they can just get it together, there is no reason why they can't compete for a West Division title in 2016.
Fannin thinks Nevada will keep Polian for the duration of his contract.
"I think Polian rides it out," Fannin said. "I believe the athletic department will give him a chance to get it right before his contract expires."
Let's hope Nevada can right the ship under Polian's watch. He is a knowledgeable football guy, and has been around the game his entire life.
He gets another shot at that November 5th against Fresno State.