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Nevada


  • Rishard Matthews
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NEVADA WOLF PACK

NOV. 12 AT MACKAY STADIUM, RENO, NEV.

Stadium capacity: 29,993. Surface: FieldTurf

>> Head coach: Chris Ault (27th year)
>> 2010 record: 13-1 (7-1 WAC)
>> Series: Hawaii, 8-7
>> Last meeting: Hawaii 27, Nevada 21
(Oct. 16, 2010, Honolulu)
>> Offense: Pistol
>> Defense: 4-3

OFFENSE

Returning starters: Six

Primary objective: Somehow replace the production of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua, who accounted for 69 percent of Nevada’s 4,091 rushing yards and 42 of its 77 touchdowns.

At the controls: Relatively untested senior Tyler Lantrip is expected to succeed Kaepernick after three years as a backup.

Leading the charge: WR Rishard Matthews led the Wolf Pack with 56 catches for 879 yards and five touchdowns. All three starting receivers return.

Key to success: Lantrip’s poise in taking over the Pistol offense and the production of running backs Lampford Mark and Mike Ball behind an offensive line returning three starters.

DEFENSE

Returning starters: Seven 

Primary objective: Continue the upward trend after jumping from 96th in total defense in 2009 to 54th last year.

At the controls: Under defensive coordinator Andy Buh, the Pack improved from 118th in 2009 to 39th in pass-efficiency defense and from 86th to 31st in scoring defense.

Leading the charge: MLB James-Michael Johnson returns after posting a team-high 88 tackles, including eight for loss.

Key to success: The ability of a new set of defensive ends to pressure quarterbacks following the losses of Dontay Moch and Ryan Coulson.

NOTABLE

>> WR Brandon Wimberly, Nevada’s second-leading receiver last year, was shot in the abdomen in June, likely ending his football career.
>> Ended last season ranked 11th in the final Associated Press poll and 13th in the USA Today coaches poll.
>> Opens with four straight road games, starting with Oregon on Sept. 10. Plays six of its last eight games at home.
>> Last year in the WAC before moving to the Mountain West in 2012.

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