After a rough 2013 season in which they finished 4-8, the Nevada Wolf Pack and second-year head coach Brian Polian are looking for quite the turnaround. Losing a couple of key players will definitely hurt the Wolf Pack, but returning Cody Fajardo at quarterback is a big plus.
Although Fajardo wasn’t as solid as expected in 2013, he did miss a couple of games and his numbers took a bit of a hit.
If the Wolf Pack want to make their ninth bowl game in 10 years, they will need to rely on the veterans to make the turnaround from a season ago. Going 4-8 just one year after a bowl appearance had to be heartbreaking, but this team has the potential to get back there.
As I stated earlier, Fajardo is returning to the Wolf Pack, giving them a veteran four-year starter to lead the way. If all goes well this season and he plays to his potential, the senior quarterback will reach the 10,000 passing yards mark for his career and maybe even break Colin Kaepernick‘s school record of 10,098.
Fajardo passed for 2,668 yards and 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes in 2013.
It seems like Nevada is going for the dual-threat QB as Fajardo was also second on the team in rushing a season ago for the 51st-best rushing offense in the nation, racking up 621 yards and eight rushing TDs. Luckily for the Wolf Pack, the leading rusher, Kendall Brock will be returning as well. Brock locked up 812 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2013.
As for the receivers, the Wolf Pack are returning four of their top six receivers from a year ago — one of those top receiving targets is the running back, Brock. Losing Brandon Wimberly‘s 989 yards and eight touchdowns will hurt, but returning Richy Turner‘s 755 yards and four scores will ease the pain a bit.
Nevada didn’t exactly have the best defense in the nation a season ago. The Wolf Pack possessed one of the worst scoring defenses in the nation, allowing over 34 points per game — although they did have to play Florida State and that turned out very ugly.
They also allowed over 500 yards per game — a very lofty number for a college defense.
Returning top defensive end Brock Hekking is huge for Nevada, however, as he was the team’s sack leader in 2013, recording 9.0 sacks as well as 48 tackles and an interception. It’s also returning top linebacker and leading tackler from a season ago, Jonathan McNeal. The senior LB recorded a team-high 103 tackles last season to go along with four tackles for loss and a sack.
The secondary is losing a big piece in Markus Smith, but retaining Charles Garrett will surely help.
A tough non-conference schedule doomed the Wolf Pack a season ago as they were forced to play two teams that ended the season in the top 25 — the Seminoles finished No. 1 and won the national title.
Although the non-conference schedule was tough, the conference schedule wasn’t supposed to be all that tough for the veteran team. However, finished 4-8 after a decent 3-2 start to the season was devastating for Fajardo and first-year coach Brian Polian.
If they can win half of these games, they will be in good shape come bowl season.
Connor Muldowney is the Content Associate for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.