Nevada vs. Vanderbilt Preview: Get To Know The Commodores
The Wolf Pack will have a tough test in Vanderbilt, so we break down the Commodores with the Tennessean.
Nevada has a chance to go to 2-0.
For a team on the upswing, nothing makes a statement quite like claiming a big road win. The Nevada Wolf Pack have a chance this Saturday to do just that when they visit Vanderbilt, so we talked with Adam Sparks of The Tennesseean in order to learn a little more about the SEC opponent.
Mountain West Wire: Nevada’s offense started clicking late last year and that continued in the opener by putting up an absurd 72 points against an FCS team in Portland State. How does the Vanderbilt defense stand up against a pretty good offensive attack?
Adam Sparks: Vanderbilt may match up reasonably well. Last week, it held a pretty good passing offense from Middle Tennessee to only one touchdown. I don’t expect that to happen in this one because Nevada has plenty of firepower, but Vanderbilt usually has played well against mobile quarterbacks during Derek Mason’s tenure. A big question is whether Vanderbilt can have an impact in the pass rush like it did last week (six sacks).
MWW: Vanderbilt had a thin secondary due to suspensions in the opener. Is this unit expected to be back at full strength on Saturday?
AS: Safety LaDarius Wiley will be back in the lineup after being ejected for a targeting penalty last week. Fellow safety Zaire Jones is not back yet, as he awaits his court date for an aggravated assault charge for bumping into a cop with his car. Losing both safeties last week put the secondary into a precarious position, but I think it handled it well. Obviously, Nevada’s passing offense will put some strain on that secondary, but the effectiveness of the pass rush probably affects that more than anything.
MWW: On the other side of the ball, Nevada’s defense has been subpar. Who are the key players that make Vanderbilt’s offense run?
AS: Quarterback Kyle Shurmur (son of New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur) is the most valuable player on the team. Wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb is a complete receiver, and he’s at his best in the red zone. Tight end Jared Pinkney has NFL-caliber talent, but the Commodores are still trying to fully utilize him. Vanderbilt rotates three running backs in Khari Blasingame, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Jamauri Wakefield.
MWW: How are the local fans feeling about playing Nevada?
AS: There’s no particular interest that I can sense beyond any other non-conference game versus an unfamiliar opponent. Vanderbilt plays regional non-conference opponents like Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and Tennessee State, and obviously those carry a little local flavor. Next week, Vanderbilt will play a much-anticipated game at Notre Dame. That being said, this is an important game for the Commodores if they hope to be in the hunt for a bowl.
MWW: How do you see this game playing out?
AS: This won’t go quite as well as Vanderbilt’s season opener, but the Commodores will win with the same methods. Defensively, Vanderbilt will get sacks and turnovers. Offensively, Kyle Shurmur will air it out a little more to complement the run game. Nevada’s best chance comes if this is high-scoring, but I see the Commodores pulling this one out. Vanderbilt 37, Nevada 24.