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Nevada vs UC Davis Game Preview: Wolf Pack look to avoid trap against Aggies

The Wolf Pack start their 2015 season at home against the lowly UC Davis Aggies.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolf Pack will kick off their 2015 football season at Mackey Stadium on Thursday night as they host the UC Davis Aggies out of the Football Championship Subdivison. The Wolf Pack went 7-6 in 2014 and earned a birth in the New Orleans Bowl where the Wolf Pack fell to Louisiana-Lafayette 16-3.

The Wolf Pack are 7-16 in season openers since 1992 which was the year the Wolf Pack moved to Division I (now called FBS) and have not lost to a FCS team since 1994 when they lost on the road at Boise State who at the time was a FCS school 37-27. Third year head coach Brian Polian has stressed to his players that FCS teams can be dangerous reminding them that eight FCS teams beat FBS teams in the first week of the 2013 season. "The last two years we've had an FCS opponent and we've preached to the team, don't be that team that looks past the FCS opponent" Polian said. "Every year they're reaching up and grabbing somebody".

The Wolf Pack will have some new faces this year on both sides of the ball. Gone from the Wolf Pack are defensive end Brock Hekking, the entire starting secondary from last year, three offensive linemen who were multiple year starters and four year starting quarterback Cody Fajardo. To take Fajardo's place at quarterback is junior Tyler Stewart from Simi Valley, California. With Stewart only making his second start in his college career, expect the Wolf Pack to lean on their running attack which will be led by Don Jackson and James Butler as Stewart gets settled in. Jackson, who led the team last year with 957 rushing yards embraces the run-oriented identity of the Wolf Pack in the teams first game and look to help the new quarterback.

"I want to see us run the ball", Jackson said. "That's one important thing for us. I want to see us flying on offense. And I want to see what Tyler's going to do in his first game. We're going to give him 100 percent effort and help him out." On defense, the Wolf Pack return six starters from last year's team and the strength of this defense will be its front seven which is led by all conference candidates Ian Seau, Lenny Jones and Rykeem Yates. "We're the most experience group" Jones said of the defensive front seven. "We have to set the tone, come out and bring the juice and show the other guys how we're going to play football this year". The Wolf Pack needs the front seven to bring the juice because the secondary is young and inexperienced and will need time to develop into a cohesive unit.

The Wolf Pack's opponent, UC Davis, went 2-9 last year and despite their depth being depleted with injuries last year, the Aggies did boast a respectable offense but their defense struggled which caused them to have a disappointing season in 2014. The last time these two programs played was in 2013 when the Wolf Pack defeated the Aggies in Reno 36-7 to give Coach Polian his first win as Wolf Pack head coach.

My prediction is that the Wolf Pack should win this game on the strength of their running game and their defensive front seven. This is the perfect game for new Wolf Pack quarterback Tyler Stewart to ease into being the starting quarterback while gaining  experience and confidence. Stewart will need that confidence as the Wolf Pack's schedule gets more tougher in the coming weeks.