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Previewing UNLV’s Opponents: Nevada Wolfpack

The annual battle for the Fremont Cannon is between UNLV and Nevada-Reno. Last year Nevada defeated UNLV 27-20, and ended teh season 6-7 after losing 27-0 to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl. Nevada has always been just above .500 with the last five years here is their win total: 6-5-9-8-6. Nevada hopes to get into the national spot light by playing two Big XII teams, at Missouri and Texas Tech at home both very tough, but if they can pull off one of those wins Nevada might be considered a favorite in the WAC.

Offense: Their offense was very impressive last year by averaging 36 points per game, but had to out score their opponents to get wins. The Wolfpack does return eight starts so the offense should have production similar to last years. The offense that Coach Ault runs is a hybrid offense and needs the quarterback to be able run at times, and then also for him to be a traditional drop back quarterback, as well.

They do have two capable quarterbacks mainly because the projected 2007 starter Nick Graziano went down with an injury and had to be replaced. The replacement was Colin Kaepernick who was force to learn on the go, and he made the most of his first year in FBS football, completing 133-of-247 passes for 2,175 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Now in 2008 Colin Kaepernick looks to be the starter, because Nick Graziano went down with a foot injury in spring practice, and that set back allowed Kaepernick to retain his starting job. If injury were to hit him Graziano is a capable replacement.

Nevada does return the number one returning rusher in the WAC in Luke Lippincott, and all he did as a junior was rush for 1,420 yards and 18 touchdowns in lieu of becoming first team all conference. This year he will be backed up by Vai Taua who saw action in eight games and had a very good spring by the coaches account.

Receivers is another strong point with the top two returning starters are seniors Marko Mitchell and Mike McCoy in this three-pronged receiver attack.  These two combined for 750 yards and twelve touchdowns, but the impressive thing about both receivers is their yards per catch with both averaging just at 20 yards per game.  If the Wolfpack find a possession receiver to balance out the two deep threats, and if this happens  the Wolfpack should have a very good offense this year.

Defense: This is where Nevada needs to improve the most if they want to challenge Fresno State or Nevada.  Last season the Wolfpack gave up 33 per game.  The offense did out score opponents, but if they want to be considered a threat the defense must improve by at least ten points per game.

The defense is changing philosphy by switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 in hopes to improve that defense.  The defensive line only returns one starter in the front four is Mundrae Clifton.  While the down lineman have only the one starter they do have three linebackers back and that will help shore up the running game that was less then impressive. 

The defensive back position could have three new starters which included prize high school recruit Thaddeus Brown  and two other junior college transfers, Maurice Harvey and cornerback Antoine Thompson .  These players have a chance to immediately shore up the secondary, or it could take a few games for these new comers to grasp the defense. 

Early Prediction: The Wolfpack offense is very potent and could be better then last year when they averaged 36 per game.  This game is be played in Las Vegas and gives UNLV a slight edge but look for Nevada’s offense to be too much and win by seven points.

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