Wolfpack Out For Blood : Three Key Improvements To Nevada's Season

Kenny HowardContributor IAugust 25, 2010

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 9:  Wide receiver Marko Mitchell #84 of the Nevada Wolf Pack runs with the ball during the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 9, 2006 in Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State won 52-21.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Nevada. A team that has the drive for greatness. The weapons they wield are sharp. And once thrust into the enemy, most are left dazed and dumbfounded.

Mostly a nobody to those in PAC 10, Big 12, etc. conferences, a mere stain on the NCAA body.

But having averaged the most rushing yards per game by any team in 2009, and the ability to score a ton of points, they look poised to return to glory of quite possibly their greatest season yet.

The threats they pose to teams are sometimes overlooked. Bigger, better teams tend to look past Nevada, and are startled when they actually come to find when playing the Pack.

The Wolfpack will catch you off guard and will make you pay. This is the Nevada their fans love to see, the Nevada team when they are in sync, in rhythm.

This isn't always the case. A rusty, confused pack of wolves rear their head at random times, mostly during the games that matter.

It's quite unfortunate when you watch a very deadly offense turn into a mediocre, sloppy amateur team. 

It's quite embarrassing for their fans, so we can imagine how it feels to them and their coaches.

It's a bug that hits them without warning, perhaps it's the butterflies in their stomach, or a virus that eats away at the logical, fearless part of their brain. 

As if watching a lion stalk a gazelle, it has the chance to flee, to be victorious, to continue living. Instead, it's an imminent calling of death on the field. And it's slow and painful.

Nevada must find these flaws and weaknesses and address them for big games. Only they themselves can save Nevada from the merciless perils of defeat.

They must keep their head up, the ball tight, and their legs moving. Having noticed some of the off-season improvements, this is what I have seen to be positive changes;

1. Start the season with a team you can actually compete against

This year, Nevada starts the season off with Eastern Washington, a rather unknown team in the Big Sky Conference.

Some would ask where the competition is in this and how is this helpful? I would tell them to look at the 2009 season opener at Notre Dame.

This was painful, torturous game, in which the country sees the bad, awful, 'who the hell are these guys' Nevada.

College football sees no preseason. Yes, it sees scrimmages and "silver vs. blue" games, but that doesn't show or prove anything. Anything before the regular season is garbage and, for the most part, should be overlooked.

Ask the 2008 Detroit Lions how much preseason meant to them. Undefeated in the preseason to 0-16 regular season. It just doesn't matter.

Giving Nevada a game where, in theory, they can't lose, gives them the time to actually see how the offense and defense will pan out when it comes to having tens of the thousands of fans staring down at you, and where the other players are actually trying to remove your head from your shoulders.

When it all comes down to it, it will all matter when it is the real season. To almost contradict myself, this is Nevada's preseason game. It gives them a chance to see how everything plays out when it actually matters.

I think if Nevada would have gotten to play Notre Dame later in the season and started out with an awful WAC bottom-dwelling team, the outcome would have been much better.

I'm not saying they would have beaten Notre Dame, but they would have had a better going at it.

2. New Defensive Coordinator

Anyone who watched any of Nevada's games last year know that they gave up plenty of points, excluding the San Jose game, where they only gave up one TD.

It was as though you were playing 90's style Madden football, Hail Mary every play. That's all teams really had to do. The cornerbacks were non-existent.

Many times did I watch Nevada's cornerbacks seemingly wait for the 70-yard pass to be caught by the receiver before doing anything about it.

They were flat out horrid on pass coverage. If they were to have been keeping their eye on the ball, or even turning around when they see the ball flying in the air through their opponents' eyes, interceptions would have tripled.

Nevada had the ability to make any quarterback look like an all-star.

Luckily, Nevada brought in a seasoned defense coach and former Wolfpack linebacker Andy Buh. It's definitely a plus to see steps being taken to ensure the defense is being looked at and dealt with accordingly.

Is he making the pass defense better? I would certainly hope so. I would like to think they couldn't get any worse....

The fact is, Nevada not only needs to stop quarterbacks from having a field day, they need more turnovers.

If the defense can give the ball back to the offense, (or better, score a defensive TD) you take points against you away, and with the incredible Nevada offense on the field, you most likely will add points to your score.

3.  Colin Kaepernick becoming more of a passer than a thrower

He is almost non-human. He's more like a robotic gazelle with a turret for an arm. Being his senior season, it will be tough to replace this devastating dual threat that is Kaep.

He has been drafted by the Chicago Cubs and has a 90+ MPH fastball. And it shows on the gridiron. Hell, it's almost a weakness for Nevada.

Sometime that bullets comes out of the barrel too fast, and the receiver either doesn't see it, or wakes up in a hospital.

It's close to breaking the sound barrier. He has an amazing arm, everyone has seen it, and at this years Manning Camp for quarterbacks, those whom haven't seen it got the honor to.

For the most part, he puts it where he wants it. But sometimes, all you need is some touch. This is where he lags.

His completion percentage is under 60 percent, and it's because he puts too much on it, or doesn't have enough touch. Believe it or not, Nevada can has the potential to be even more lethal on offense.

Though it is possible for them to run all day long, you need not be one-dimensional; you must keep the opponent guessing. Once they fear the run and the pass, they have no choice but to tuck tail and run.

Kaep has the athleticism to play beyond college, but for the most part, the NFL doesn't like option quarterbacks. The NFL just wants quarterbacks who can pass; a hurt quarterback is rough to replace.

Michael Vick was an exception to this unwritten rule, so in theory, Kaep can continue his reign of terror, but he still needs to settle down sometimes and put some loving touch on the ball.

The Nevada coaching staff has said his passing has gotten greatly better in the off-season, but the fear is when he gets frustrated from receivers dropping balls or not getting open, he wants to run it.

It's not selfish to say Kaep carries the team. He, himself, is a game changer.

Once he perfects his passing, the construction of this machine is complete and will cause the end of the world.   


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