Nevada Football: Previewing The Wolf Pack Offense In 2021
The Nevada Wolf Pack are loaded once again on offense in 2021 to make a run at the Mountain West Championship and maybe more.
Previewing The Wolf Pack Offense Heading Into 2021
The Nevada Wolf Pack are heading into the 2021 season as the team to watch in the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack are one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to win the Mountain West in 2021 in large part because of their explosive offense. Coming off a 7-2 season in the COVID truncated 2020 season, the Wolf Pack are looking to be back in the thick of the Mountain West championship chase this season.
For Nevada to win their first ever Mountain West championship in football, the Wolf Pack offense must continue to remain its explosive self. The Wolf Pack offense averaged 447 yards of offense per game last season and with ten starters from last season returning, Nevada’s offense can be explosive once again. While the rushing attack for Nevada is solid and can improve, the strength of this offense is its passing attack.
In this article, We take a look at the Nevada offense heading into the 2021 season and look at some of the key players of this Wolf Pack offense that will look to lead this team to a Mountain West championship.
Without a doubt, junior quarterback Carson Strong is the leader of the Wolf Pack offense and is the engine that makes this offense go and thrive.
Strong had a fantastic 2020 season as he completed almost 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,858 yards and 27 touchdown passes and only threw four interceptions. Strong established himself as arguably the best quarterback in the Mountain West last season. Strong’s 2020 campaign was so spectacular, that his play has caught the attention of the NFL and the draft experts as Strong is predicted to be one of the quarterbacks taken early in the 2021 NFL draft.
Outside of Carson Strong, the quarterbacks for Nevada do have some playing experience should anything unfortunate and unforeseen happens to Strong. Senior quarterback Nate Cox is a six-foot nine QB who hails from Lafayette, Louisiana. Cox did appear in eight games but only threw two passes in 2020. Hamish McClure, the former quarterback from Sacramento State, appeared in four games last season but did not record a single stat and has not thrown a pass since 2019.
Also on the Wolf Pack quarterback depth chart is redshirt freshman Jonah Chong from Honolulu, Hawaii and junior quarterback Jake Barlage from Moreno Valley. Barlage spent a season in the JUCO ranks out in California before transferring to Nevada where he redshirted in 2020.
For the last few seasons, senior running backs Toa Taua and Devontae Lee have been the key cogs in the Wolf Pack rushing attack. In 2020, both Taua and Lee averaged over five yards a carry. Taua rushed for 675 yards and scored four touchdowns while Lee ran for 472 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns,
Filling out the rest of the Nevada running backs are sophomore Avery Morrow who averaged six yards a carry despite only carrying the ball 14 times in 2020. Wesley Kommer is a sophomore running back who played in six games last season but only recorded one carry last season. And senior running backs Aundre Carter and Terell Johnson round out the rest of the Nevada Wolf Pack running backs.
With Taua, Lee, Carter and Johnson set to graduate after this season, it is important for the Wolf Pack to build up the depth at this position. For this season, it is still Toa Taua and Devontae Lee as the bell cow back for Nevada.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
The position with the most talent on offense for Nevada is the wide receiver position heading into the 2021 season. One can make a strong argument that the receiving corps for the Wolf Pack is not just one of the best units in the Mountain West but the best in the nation.
The star of the Wolf Pack receiving unit is senior wide receiver Romeo Doubs. Doubs had a phenomenal 2020 season as he led the Mountain West in receptions (58) and receiving yards (1,002) while scoring nine touchdowns. Keep in mind that Doubs had spectacular numbers in a nine game season and can you imagine what he can do in a 12 game season? All I have to say is defensive backs in the Mountain West once again need to watch out for Doubs in 2021.
Doubs is not the only wide receiver that opposing defenses will have to hope to contain. Senior wide receiver Elijah Cooks is back for Nevada after missing all of the 2020 season with a shoulder injury. When Cooks did play back in 2019, he led the Wolf Pack with 76 catches and 926 yards so his return will already make a Wolf Pack receiving unit even more dangerous in 2021.
Along with Doubs and Cooks, the Wolf Pack receiving unit does have depth as Tory Holton (20 catches,336 yards, five touchdowns in ‘20) Melquan Stovall (33 catches for 250 yards in ‘20) and Justin Lockhart (27 catches, 241 yards, two touchdowns in ‘20) round out a deep and talented unit.
Also, the Wolf Pack have another talented pass catcher in tight end Cole Turner coming back for the 2021 season. In 2020 Turner caught 49 passes for 605 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Those nine touchdowns receptions for Turner placed him tied for first with Romeo Doubs in not only the team statistics but in the Mountain West conference in 2020.
With the talent coming back at the wide receiver and tight end position, the Wolf Pack could be one of the best offenses in not just the conference but in the nation in 2021.
Like the wide receivers and the running backs, the Wolf Pack does return talent and experience on the offensive line in 2021. Nevada is returning four of the five starters from last year’s offensive line that was one of the reasons why the Wolf Pack averaged 30.8 points per game in 2020.
The only new starter on the offensive line possibly is JUCO transfer Drew Cannon who is a 6 foot 4, 300 pound lineman from Tyler Junior College in Texas. Lineman such as Tyler Orsini, Jacob Gardner, Aaron Frost and back up Grey Davis are back for Nevada and looking to provide protection for Strong and running lanes for the running backs.
This offensive line does however need to improve on its run blocking in 2021. The Wolf Pack as a unit only averaged 4.3 yards per carry on the ground in 2020 which was good for seventh in the Mountain West.
But if you were to look at the advanced stats from Football Outsiders, and look up the rankings for the statistical category called Stuff Rate, the Wolf Pack fared much worse. In fact per the Stuff Rate statistic used by Football Outsiders, the Wolf Pack were ranked 119th in the nation in that category in 2020.
The Wolf Pack offensive line did give up 20 sacks in 2020 and the Wolf Pack would need to improve a bit in protecting Carson Strong. Otherwise, the Wolf Pack offensive line is a good to very good unit that needs to improve in run blocking in order to open up running lanes for their talented running backs such as Toa Taua and Devonte Lee.
If the Wolf Pack offensive line can improve on their run blocking and give up fewer sacks then this offense can soar to new levels in 2021.