My college football formative years were spent as a fan of a WAC-MWC program - Colorado State. Today, I swapped questions with Jeremy Mauss from the great Mountain West Connection. My responses to him are here.
1. What is the culture of Nevada Football these days and what are the goals of Coach Polian?
Brian Polian kept the offense intact that Chris Ault basically invented in the pistol. The team has taken a step back from Ault, however it probably is more of not having Colin Kapernick at quarterback then Polian being the head coach, but fans are not extremely high on Polian but neither is there any disdain for the coach. The issues with offense is that it is inconsistent in what the pistol should be doing on the ground game which needs multiple running backs plus the quarterback to run the ball. Polian's the goals are no different than Ault and that is to win the conference and the West is weak making that somewhat easier.
2. Arizona's excellent offense got going against the Wolfpack last week. How did they exploit Nevada's defense?
Nevada's defense has never been great, historically. This year's team lost Brock Hekking who was a major force at linebacker last year, and his loss is showing early on this year. Arizona's style of offense which is up tempo and basically just wore down Nevada as their depth, and just maybe their conditioning, was unable to keep up with Rich Rodriguez's offense. The rushing game is the weak link as they gave up a whopping seven yards per carry against the Wildcats, and the pass defense was ineffective as well. Basically it was a talent discrepancy.
3. What would it take for Nevada to win this game? Who are a couple Wolfpack players we should keep an eye on?
The pistol offense needs to get back up to par. The way it should work to be successful is to have running back Don Jackson go for around 100 yards, his backup James Butler and quarterback Tyler Stewart need to combine for another 100 on the ground. That is the most efficient way for the pistol be effective. Also, a player who has not received his fair share of targets and is a potential game changer is wide receiver Hasaan Henderson, however so far this year new starting quarterback Stewart has not been all that accurate. If the accuracy improves and the run game can get some momentum then Nevada at the very least will score some points. On Defense, they have Ian Seau, the nephew of Junior Seau, is NFL bound but he can't make enough plays to get the win. Basically, a win for Nevada means they will have to score a lot of points and then make a defensive play or two, but I don';t trust the defense to be able to make enough stops.
4. I grew up in Fort Collins - home of Colorado State - when Thursday night football started becoming big. Legendary coach Sonny Lubick was always willing to play on those nights. Should the Mountain West play more weeknight football games in the interests of television exposure?
Those were great days and made the WAC/Mountain West a big deal, relatively speaking, in getting the league noticed for its brand of play which has seen it's fair share of high-scoring games. The league plays usually one game a week more Friday's then Thursday's since the ACC, Big 12 and other bigger conferences play on that night. They probably could do a double header with a game in the Mountain time zone and than Pacific for the later game. In saying that, I doubt they want too many games on the same night and partly because usually they are rival games with one on ESPN and the other on CBS Sports Network and that doesn't help the league.
5. What's your game prediction?
I think Nevada can score some points in this game and move the ball fairly well, but it likely be similar to the Arizona game where Texas A&M will just methodically pull away for a big win. As for covering the 34 points, that is a lot of points to give the Aggies and I think the outcome will be like a 42-17 victory for Texas A&M.