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Nevada Football Schedule Preview: Week 1 vs. Purdue

By: Matt Hanifan

Matchup: Purdue (0-0) @ Nevada (0-0)

When: Friday, August 30, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Mackey Stadium

TV: CBS Sports Network

Purdue's offense:

David Blough and Elijah Sindelar alternated starting roles at the quarterback slot in 2016 and 2017. Entering the 2018 season, they were both expected to see snaps.

After tendinitis in his knees shortened Sindelar's season to only two games, Blough took the job and ran with it. He completed 66 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,705 yards -- second most in the Big Ten -- along with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Sindelar was granted an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA due to the injuries suffered in previous seasons.

After Blough departs, Sindelar is expected to be under center for the season opener. He has thrown for 2,547 yards, completing 56 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 19 career games. The 6-foot-4 senior looks to lead a pass heavy offense, which threw the ball 56 percent of the time and finished 11th in the nation in passing offense (307.5 ypg) last season.

Aside from Sindelar's experience, there isn't much there. Their top returning rusher returning is sophomore running back Zander Horvath, who rushed for 42 yards on nine carries with one score. Horvath expects to shoulder the load due to the departure of their top two rushers DJ Knox and Markell Jones.

Sophomore receiver Rondale Moore is a must watch talent -- someone who has my vote as possibly the most electric player to watch in all of college football -- and will arguably the best player to visit Mackay Stadium this season.

Moore was apart of the All-Big Ten first team as a returner and a receiver, also becoming the first freshman in Big Ten history to earn the consensus All-American honors. The 5-foot-9 speedster set Purdue's all-time single season record for all-purpose-yards (2,215), leading the Big Ten in receptions (114), receiving yards (1,258) and tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (12) last season. He also tied the school record for most 100-yard receiving games (7) and caught 11 or more passes six times last season.

Four-star receiver David Bell, the top offensive recruit from Indiana and the No. 226 recruit from ESPN's top 300, adds to the young corp of Boilermaker receivers. Senior tight end Brycen Hopkins leads the tight end corps. He added 34 catches for 583 yards and two touchdowns.

Purdue's Defense:

The Boilermaker defense returns four of their top five tacklers, including leading tackler Markus Bailey. The 6-foot-1, 240 pound linebacker was selected second-team All-Big Ten team last season, finishing with team-high 115 tackles.

In addition to the 115 tackles, Bailey also recorded a team-high 5.5 sacks along with 10.0 tackles-for-loss and an interception.

Graduate transfer Ben Holt enters the linebacker core. Holt, previously at Western Kentucky University, tallied a team-high 116 tackles. The 5-foot-11 senior recorded a team-high 11.5 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks. They also add four-star defensive end George Karlaftis, the top recruit from Indiana and No. 71 recruit from ESPN's top 300.

Purdue's defense finished T-82nd in scoring defense (30.0 points per game) and T-113rd in total defense (452.6 yards per game) after losing nine of their top 12 tacklers last season. With a lot of returning faces this season, the continuity should help improve from last season.

Prediction:

  • Purdue: 35
  • Nevada: 21

Nevada has to contain Moore to stand a chance. The question if they can do that, looms up in the air. The Pack lost three main secondary pieces -- Jamon Dotson, Asauni Rufus and Dameon Baber. They have seniors Daniel Brown and EJ Muhammed fill in on the corner spots with an iffy secondary. The secondary will have a huge test early, and will have to live up to the tall task right out of the gate to begin the 2019 season.

With redshirt freshman Carson Strong making his first career start, Nevada's offense -- which posted 430.8 yards per game, 38th best in the nation -- needs to come out of the gate strong (no pun intended). Nevada has to essentially play a near perfect game if they want to win this game. After coming off their first eight-win season since 2010, if the Pack can pull off a win at home versus Purdue, it could be a huge kick start for their season. That is quite a big "if", but it is possible