Barring any unforeseen setbacks due to COVID-19, there are six Saturday’s until the Nevada Football team will kickoff its 2020 season.
Assuming the Nevada football season begins on-time and non-conference play occurs, here is a look at its 2020 schedule:
Nevada Football 2020 Schedule
|Date||Opponent||Time||TV||2019 Final FPI Rankings||2020 Preseason FPI Rankings|
|Date||Opponent||Time||TV||2019 Final FPI Rankings||2020 Preseason FPI Rankings|
|August 29||vs. UC Davis||TBD||TBD||---------||---------|
|September 12||vs. UTEP||TBD||TBD||128||129|
|September 19||at South Florida||TBD||TBD||95||86|
|September 26||vs. San Diego State||TBD||TBD||71||88|
|October 3||at Hawai'i||TBD||TBD||79||119|
|October 17||at New Mexico||TBD||TBD||121||124|
|October 24||vs. Fresno State||TBD||TBD||81||93|
|October 31||vs. Utah State||TBD||TBD||73||85|
|November 7||at San Jose State||TBD||TBD||103||108|
|November 14||vs. Wyoming||TBD||TBD||68||77|
|November 28||at UNLV||TBD||TBD||116||117|
Each Friday leading up to the season, I will be previewing each Pack opponent on their 2020 schedule. This week, we will be previewing their week seven matchup: New Mexico Lobos. Enjoy!
6/12: Week 1 vs. UC Davis
6/19: Week 2 at Arkansas
6/26: Week 3 vs. UTEP
7/10: Week 5 vs. San Diego State
7/17: Week 6 vs. Hawai’i
Week 6: New Mexico
2019 record: 2-10 (0-8 MWC)
When: Saturday, Oct. 17
Where: Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M.
Matchup History: Nevada leads 4-3-1 (There was a 0-0 tie in 1942)
New Mexico 2019 season-in-review:
New Mexico was the worst team in the Mountain West and one of the worst teams in the nation last season. It earned a 39-31 victory over Sam Houston State in its season opener before a 66-14 loss to Notre Dame. The Lobos followed up with a 55-52 victory over intrastate rival New Mexico State followed by a 17-10 loss to Liberty (an FCS program) to close its non-conference slate. Its win over NMSU was its last victory of the season, dropping all eight of their conference contests by an average of 17.7 points per game. New Mexico has dropped 21 of its last 22 conference contests and has failed to win four games in each of the last three seasons. Head coach Bob Davie was let go after the season’s conclusion and was replaced by Danny Gonzales on a five-year deal. Gonzales, in his first ever head coaching job, looks to lead a rebuilding Lobo program to its first bowl game since 2016.
The Lobos ranked No. 69 nationally in total offense (400.3 ypg) and No. 106 in scoring offense (22.3 ppg). However, they were the third-most productive rushing offense in the Mountain West last season, averaging 205.3 yards per contest.
The team’s top tailback Ahmari Davis (140 carries, 832 yards, 7 TDs) graduates, but speedster Bryson Carroll will slot in as Davis’ heir apparent in 2020.
Carroll appeared in ten games (four starts) last season, rushing for 536 yards (on 105 carries) with two rushing touchdowns. The 5-foot-7, 188-pound tailback has rushed for at least 70 yards just one time in his collegiate career — totaling a career-best 193 rushing yards (on 26 carries) with one rushing score versus Colorado State last year. His 193 yards was the fifth-most rushing yards in a single game by any Mountain West player last season. Carroll was not utilized in the receiving game, hauling in just two passes for 12 yards — but could see an increased role in that department in 2020.
There is room for improvement in New Mexico’s passing game, which tallied just 195.0 yards per contest — which ranked as the third-worst air attack in the conference.
Quarterback Tevaka Tuioti, who made seven starts for the Lobos in 2019, returns for his junior season. Tuioti has been plagued with injuries, missing 12 combined contests over the last two years. In 2019, he completed 102-of-195 passes (52.3 percent) for 1,460 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 262 yards on 52 carries (5.0 ypc).
The Lobos return six of their top seven receivers, including their top target Jordan Kress. Kress caught 28 passes for 530 yards and six touchdowns. He was the team’s only wideout to catch 25-plus passes.
Anselem Umeh, who finished third on team with 21 receptions for 272 yards, will be the team’s No. 2 target . Emmanuel Logan-Greene (19 rec., 193 yds), Cedric Patterson III (8 rec., 198 yds, 2 TDs) and Elijah Lilly (7 rec., 95 yds) will fill the Lobo depth chart at receiver. Marcus Williams is the team’s top target at tight end. Williams had a career year last season, finishing second on the team in both receptions (26) and receiving yards (428).
Three of the team’s five offensive lineman graduated. The group is led by two All-Conference honorees in center Kyle Stapley and right tackle Teton Saltes. Minnesota grad transfer left tackle Ben Davis, along with guards Cade Briggs and Jacob Jankoviak will likely fill the remaining spots.
The Lobo had one of the worst defenses in the nation last year. They were the fourth-least efficient defensive team nationally last season, ranking second-last in total defense (485.7 ypg) and sported the worst passing defense (321.4 ypg). They also ranked last in the Mountain West and No. 125 nationally in scoring defense (37.2 ppg).
Gonzales brought in former New Mexico and SDSU head coach Rocky Long as defensive coordinator. Long, 70, retired after nine years as head coach with the Aztecs earlier in the offseason — going 81-38 for his career and led them to a West Division Title last year. This will be his fourth coaching stint at his alma mater (QB - 1969-71), most notably spending 11 seasons (1998-2008) as its head coach — compiling a 65-69 record with five bowl appearances.
Long plans to use his 3-3-5 blitz scheme to improve a defense that has placed outside the Top-100 in defensive efficiency in all but one year since 2013.
Langston Murray and Ben Gansallo are the only returning defensive linemen with starting experience. Murray recorded just eight tackles in ten appearances (two starts), while Gansallo recorded six tackles with a pass breakup in 12 contests (four starts). Murray is expected to be a run-stopping nose tackle while Gansallo will take one of the edge spots.
For the final defensive end spot, Justin Harris (8 tackles, 1 TFL), Ben Betram and freshman Omar Darame are expected to compete for the starting job.
Jacobi Hearn leads the linebacking corps. Hearn, an outside linebacker, leads all returning Lobos in tackles-for-loss (10.0) and sacks (6.0). Joey Noble, previously a defensive lineman, converted to linebacker over the offseason. Noble had 26 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack in 2019. Reco Hannah (12 tackles, 0.5 TFL) and Brandon Shook (21 tackles) bring experience to the corps that lost multiple key pieces last year.
The Lobo secondary, led by safeties Letayveon Beaton and Jerrick Reed II, has the most talent defensively. Beaton was sixth on the team in tackles with 49, including 36 solo tackles. He also had three pass breakups on the year. Reed II was fifth on the team in tackles with 51 with just one interception (coming against NMSU). Patrick Peek (18 tackles, 1 TFL) and Brandon Burton (22 tackles, O.5 TFL) will battle for playing time on the back-end.
Donte Martin, who started in all 12 games last season, will lead the team’s cornerback unit. Martin was second on the team in pass breakups (9) while tallying 41 tackles and 2.0 tackles-for-loss. Michael LoVett III (15 tackles) looks to break his way into the No. 2 corner spot heading into the 2020 season.
Will this contest even happen? Nobody knows right now. The New Mexico governor has requested for both New Mexico and New Mexico State that they should cancel football for this upcoming season earlier this week. Under the assumption that this game does take place, this will be the Wolf Pack’s easiest opponent on its schedule. It’s hard to get worse after coming off a two-win season, but the Lobos aren’t expected to experience much improvement in this first season under Gonzales. After escaping with just an 11-point victory over the Lobos last year, Nevada will need to be able to secure this victory in order to keep atop the standings in the West Division.