The Nevada Wolf Pack’s historic 2018 season has them hungry for more.
Following its first eight-win season since joining the Mountain West Conference, the Pack is ready to make a run at another postseason appearance. They topped the Arkansas State Red Wolves 16-13 in the Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29.
Question marks still remain under center between Cristian Salano and Malik Henry. Salano made his first collegiate start with the Pack last season in a 21-3 loss to Fresno State on Oct. 6. The senior signal caller completed 22-of-43 passes for 195 yards through the air and added a team-high 71 rushing yards.
Solano’s mobility outside the pocket makes him a dual-threat, but he’s struggled to make accurate passes down the field consistently. He threaded the needle on a 75-yard touchdown pass over the outstretched arms of two Wolf Pack defensive backs during Nevada’s Silver and Blue spring game on April 27.
Henry’s strong arm and accuracy down the field has him nipping at Solano’s heels for the starting quarterback job. The former Last Chance U star completed 16 of 28 passes for a game-high 211 yards during the spring game.
Nevada is known for its potent air raid offense, averaging 31.08 points per game on 404 yards per game. But their reliance on the ground game added a new element to the air attack.
Runnig back Toa Taua carried the load with a team-high 872 rushing yards last season. He was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year.
Returning wide receivers Kaleb Fossum, Romeo Doubs, Elijah Cooks, Ben Putman and Brendan O’Leary-Orange can provide a spark down the field.
The Wolf Pack will feature new faces defensively, as the departures of senior defensive tackle Korey Rush and senior linebacker Malik Reed have left holes in Nevada’s 3-3-5 scheme. The duo combined for 14 sacks last season, which helped Nevada hold opponents to 26.9 points per game.
Senior defensive end Adam Lopez and senior defensive tackle Dom Peterson will help fill the void by bringing the energy and physicality in the trenches.
In the secondary, Kaymen Cureton moved to safety to help a depleted secondary with three departed seniors. Cureton started two games at quarterback for the Wolf Pack as a true freshman in 2017.
Nevada has some holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but they remain an under-the-radar team with plenty of talent. Under Head Coach Jay Norvell, the Pack has taken a step up in their development as a program.
The Pack’s schedule is packed with tough non-conference opponents, including and Purdue Oregon, but Nevada has the depth and explosiveness to keep up in conference play. Nevada scheduled up to their competition coming off a postseason appearance, and it may just pay off when the season is finished with another bowl win.