Players, coaches, trainers, and ball boys have all been repeating the same message since Oregon’s loss to LSU. “We have to move forward.” So who’s next? That would be the Nevada Wolf Pack, although it’s not exactly the same squad we’ve come accustomed to seeing the last couple seasons. Why?
They don’t have that guy anymore. Colin Kaepernick was one of the most statistically impressive players college football has ever seen, and thankfully someone Oregon won’t have to deal with come Saturday. Can you name the only player in NCAA history to amass 10,000 career passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards, or have back to back seasons of 2,000/1,000? I bet you can now. So who’s left to try to replace that outrageous production?
Tyler Lantrip isn’t exactly a household name but he’s going to get first crack at quarterbacking Nevada’s pistol offense. He’s got 192 yards and 1 TD for his career, but he’s a big guy (6′ 4” 220 lbs) and he’s a senior, so he should have complete mastery of the offensive system.
If losing Kaepernick wasn’t enough, The Wolfpack also graduated the school’s 2nd all-time leading rusher in Vai Taua. As a workhorse in Nevada’s powerful offense, Taua racked up over 1600 rush yards last season with a whopping 19 TD’s. Nevada has a stable of backs that we’ll take a closer look at later in the week, but Nick Hale currently sits atop the depth chart and should be in line for plenty of touches.
The Rishard Matthews hype train is picking up steam after a strong end to last season combined with an impressive showing in practices this year. Matthews was originally supposed to go to Oregon but didn’t meet academic standards and had to attend junior college. He’s easily their best WR and could be their best offensive weapon against the Ducks. Funny how stuff like that works.
These are going to be the guys making plays for Nevada all season, it’s Oregon’s job to make sure that they don’t get off to a good start on Saturday. Facing a talented and angry Oregon squad in Auzten is far from an ideal way to start the post-Kaepernick era but that’s exactly what Chris Ault’s team will be forced to do.