Nevada vs. New Mexico: Three Keys To A Wolf Pack Win
The Wolf Pack looks to extend its hot streak against the Lobos. Here’s our preview of how Nevada can beat New Mexico.
How can Nevada improve to 4-0?
WEEK 11: Nevada Wolf Pack (3-0) vs. New Mexico Lobos (0-2)
WHEN: Saturday, November 14 — 3:30 PM PT/4:30 PM MT
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, NV
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS2, by following this link.
You can also find the audio broadcast on TuneIn.
RADIO: The Nevada broadcast can be found in and around Reno on 94.5 FM and elsewhere on the Wolf Pack Radio Network. The New Mexico broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Lobo Radio Network, including flagship 770 AM (KKOB) in Albuquerque.
SERIES RECORD: Nevada leads the series 4-3-1. In the last meeting on November 2, 2019, the Wolf Pack defeated the Lobos, 24-10, in Reno.
LAST WEEK: Nevada scored a 34-9 victory over Utah State at home, while New Mexico lost on the road against Hawaii, 39-33.
ODDS (as of 11/10, via Vegas Insider): Nevada -17
SP+ PROJECTION: to be determined
FEI PROJECTION: to be determined
The high-flying Nevada Wolf Pack are back on the road as we reach the halfway mark of this Mountain West football season, hoping to prolong their best start since 2010 against the New Mexico Lobos.
Instead of traveling to Albuquerque, however, Nevada is headed back to Las Vegas for the second time in two weeks because of ongoing public health order in the Land of Enchantment. The strangeness of suddenly being road warriors hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of new Lobos head coach Danny Gonzales, however, nor has it diminished the team’s overall performance. Though UNM is still looking for its first victory of the fall, they hung around against both San Jose State and Hawaii, so the Lobos can’t be overlooked.
Here’s how Nevada can make it four wins in a row by beating the Lobos.
Three Keys to a Nevada Victory
1. Let Carson Strong cook.
If you’ll pardon a pun, this mild joke may be a little overdone at this point, but the mismatch could not be more obvious here. 64 FBS quarterbacks have at least as many pass attempts as Carson Strong’s 131 and, in that group, the sophomore already ranks 13th by averaging nine yards per attempt, ninth with a 171.68 passer rating, third with a 73.3% completion rate, and second with 393.7 yards per game. Oh, and he’s also just one of three QBs with that many attempts and zero interceptions. All in all, he’s had a dominant few weeks.
Though the Lobos did get two interceptions from safety Jerrick Reed II on Saturday night, they were tested often by both the Spartans and Warriors and have yet to find consistent answers for stopping the pass. New Mexico has allowed a 73.1% completion rate and 9.6 yards per attempt so far, so there’s really no reason to be balanced if Strong and company can go for the jugular early.
2. Bring the heat against a new quarterback.
One change that could make a big difference for the Lobos is that they will be without starting quarterback Tevaka Tuioti, who got knocked out of the game against Hawaii and will be in concussion protocol this week. Enter sophomore Trae Hall, who saw limited action in 2019 and will make just his second career start.
It’ll be interesting to see how they deploy their new signal-caller because, through two games, Tuioti had created 20-yard pass plays at roughly the same rate as Strong (12.1% and 12.9%, respectively) and Hall hasn’t been consistently accurate in his young career. What he does have, however, are wheels that could make a difference in a run game that ranks third in the Mountain West with 5.49 yards per carry. In his lone previous start against Utah State, Hall ran for 115 yards at 5.23 YPC and scored twice on the ground, so the Wolf Pack will need to be prepared.
3. Be prepared to string long drives together.
One element of the game that could cause headaches for the Wolf Pack is whether New Mexico can continually flip the field on special teams. That’s because senior punter Tyson Dyer has been the best punter in the conference to date, averaging a conference-best 45.2 yards per punt and a net average of 44.3 that ranks eighth in the FBS.
Furthermore, seven of Dyer’s ten kicks have pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line and they have managed just three touchdown drives in those situations. For a Wolf Pack offense that ranks in the top ten nationally when starting outside the 20 but is closer to the middle of the pack beginning within it, it isn’t inconceivable that the offense bogs down from time to time, as a result of having to move the chains so often, and gives the Lobos a chance to hang around.
Nevada should be able to move the ball effectively against a New Mexico defense that is still very much a work in progress, but the Lobos should also provide more of a fight than UNLV or Utah State did because their own offense also looks pretty explosive. It’s likely that is diminished a little bit without their starting quarterback, though, so the Wolf Pack should win and cover pretty comfortably.
Nevada 41, New Mexico 20