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By the numbers: A look at Nevada’s 2-0 start

Here are five underlying statistics from Nevada’s hot start!

NCAA Football: Nevada at California
Nevada Wolf Pack cornerback Isaiah Essissima (2) intercepts the football intended for California Golden Bears wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter (10) during the fourth quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium.
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada Wolf Pack have gotten off to a 2-0 start to begin its highly-anticipated 2021 campaign.

The Wolf Pack secured wins at Cal (22-17) and at home against Idaho State (49-10). Their second-and-final non-conference road affair is on Saturday, Sept. 18 against Kansas State — their second Power-5 opponent they will face this year. Nevada is one of six Mountain West programs — the others being San Diego State, Utah State, Wyoming, New Mexico and Air Force — that remains undefeated.

Here are five underlying statistics from its hot start:

376.5 - To nobody’s surprise, Nevada, led by reigning Mountain West offensive player of the year Carson Strong, is slinging the rock around the field. As a team, it’s posted 376.5 passing yards per game — the seventh-most nationally. It’s accumulated 83.7 percent of its total yards through the air, the 11th-most in the FBS. Strong’s arm talent and acumen are the primary factors behind that, sporting the nation’s 8th-best mark with 693 yards thrown with six touchdowns to just one interception.

10.0 - Nevada has recorded 10 sacks in its first two games. How many did it have in eight regular season games last year? 15. The Pack have recorded eight sacks in two of its last three games played — the other coming in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Tulane. Those two performances are the only times it’s recorded eight in a single game since the sack became an official NCAA stat in 2000, per Stathead.

2 - The Pack have begun plus-two in the turnover margin. Wake Forest transfer Isaiah Essissima intercepted Nevada’s only pass, while it’s recovered two fumbles — one of which was returned for a touchdown by defensive linemen Dom Peterson. It forced nine turnovers (six interceptions, three fumbles) while breaking even in the turnover margin in 2020.

75 - Given how explosive the Wolf Pack offense was in 2020, their red-zone offense scored touchdowns on just half their red-zone attempts. Nevada’s reached the end zone on six of its eight red-zone attempts — a 75 percent clip — thus far in 2021. Strong’s still going to attack vertically — but improving its red-zone efficiency could be massive for its success. Nevada’s got arguably the conference’s best kicker in Brandon Talton, too, so the need for positive regression isn’t required — though it would be encouraging.

10 - Yes, I know, I have 10 twice on here — but for different reasons. As I’ve illuminated throughout the offseason into this season, the Wolf Pack have no shortage of skill position threats in the passing game. It’s proved to be true thus far — 10 Pack players have had at least one game with multiple receptions, per Stathead. For perspective, in 2020, nine recorded at least one multi-reception performance all year. Strong connected with 11 different receivers against Idaho State alone. That’s difficult to do for any quarterback.