Nevada vs. UCLA Game Preview

By Sean McMahon @Wolfkaosaun

With hall of fame coach Chris Ault retired, the Nevada Wolf Pack open up a new era with new head coach Brian Polian. Polian has said that he intends to keep the pistol offense implemented in his team, a type of offense Ault is credited for creating. The Wolf Pack have an interesting, tough game to start off the season against the UCLA Bruins. Both have high expectations for this year with promising offenses and strong quarterback play. Here is a preview as to what to expect from this game.

The Wolf Pack’s offense is mostly still in tact, allowing chemistry to brew continuously throughout this season. Cody Fajardo is expected to have an immense season, being a dual threat on the ground and through the air. While people have watched in awe of Colin Kaepernick’s ability to do both, Fajardo has followed in his footsteps, which is something NFL scouts should keep an eye on. UCLA has some new, young faces on the defense which could struggle against the fast paced offense of Nevada. Although there are new faces on UCLA’s defense, there are new faces on Nevada’s offensive line who’s inexperience must be masked within the pistol offense. Probably the most intriguing and biggest X factor in the game is how will Nevada’s offensive tackle Joel Bitonio stacking up against All-American candidate Anthony Barr. Last season, Bitonio was the starting right tackle and this year makes his way to the left side. Entering his senior year, Bitonio has started 26 consecutive games and has not given up a sack. Barr intends on making that record ending this streak. The offense may weigh heavily on that matchup, and if Bitonio holds his own against Barr, the offense could do some damage.

The Bruins offense will have to score some points to win this game, and that’s something they can definitely do. Brett Hundley, the Bruins quarterback, is expected to have a great year and rightfully so. In 2012, Hundley accumulated 4,095 yards of total offense, throwing 29 touchdowns and rushing for nine more. This could be a problem for the Wolf Pack, as they are implementing a new defensive scheme, the Tampa 2, and have numerous new and young players on the defense. The cornerbacks are going to have their work cut out for them in this game, as Hundley is expected to air it out. Last year, the Wolf Pack gave up way too many leads which ultimately hurt them throughout the season, a trait they are hoping to overcome with these young players. One player who has been on this team, however, is Brock Hekking, the Wolf Pack’s leading sack leader in 2012. Hekking is in place to have a breakout year and definitely can have a strong showing in this game. The Bruins offensive line gave up 52 sacks last year and has gotten even younger, something that could very well determine this game. Nevada will have to get pressure and sack Hundley to win this game.

Overall, this game could be a lot closer than one might think. Both offenses have immense potential but there are question marks surrounding certain positions for each team. This game could actually come down to how the defenses play and can contain the other. UCLA may struggle against the pistol offense as it is something they haven’t quite seen before, whereas Nevada’s defense is young and inexperienced, thus Hundley may be able to pick apart. This will most likely be a high scoring game which comes down to the wire. The Wolf Pack actually has a great chance to pull off the upset this Saturday, but there are too many question marks about the defense. A new scheme is implemented and some players could struggle in it, along with inexperience getting the best of them. This will be a great learning experience for both teams moving forward.

Final score prediction: UCLA 42, Nevada 38.