It was a very bad day for the Nevada Wolf Pack. If there was any doubt that Kaepernick and company were crucial to Nevada's success last season, it's gone. This Wolf Pack team was clearly not last year's team. The loss of Kaepernick, Taua, Moch, Coulson, Green and Bender among others was painful to watch. Nevada was basically blown out in Eugene in a lopsided rout, 69-20.
The Wolf Pack could not match the speed of the Ducks and with a combination of fumbles, defensive breakdowns, interceptions and penalties gave an already superior team the game on a silver and blue platter.
This is a rebuilding year and except for possibly Boise State, Nevada has already faced its toughest opponent of the season in its first game. It gets easier from here. Despite the sorry score, there were some bright spots for Nevada.
The Wolf Pack bested Oregon with time-of-possession, 38:18 to 21:42; first downs, 26 to 25; total rushing yards 307 to 279 and net rushing 283 to 272. The Pack was successful at moving the ball on the ground. There's a bright spot.
The Ducks passed for 331 yards to the Pack's 233. Total offense belonged to the Ducks 603 yards. Still the Pack managed 516 yards of total offense against one of college football's elite teams. There's another bright spot.
What killed Nevada was inexperience, defensive mistakes, fumbles (one), interceptions (three), penalties (eight for 55), missed field goals and blocked point after kicks. Had Nevada played cleanly, the score could have been at least a little closer.
So where does the Wolf Pack go from here? This stinging blow out will turn out to have been a blessing. This was learning to swim the hard way, by jumping right in. Nevada knows what it needs to work on. There were a few bright spots. Senior QB Tyler Lantrip finally got a chance to play and did okay. Freshman QB Cory Fajardo showed some flashes of potential greatness.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The Pack faces San Jose State next week and has a chance to wash the taste of Eugene out of its mouth. Hopefully by this time next week Nevada will be 1-1 and better prepared to face Texas Tech the following week and Boise State the week after.
These four tough away games to start the season will get the Pack ready for their WAC competitors. We have a long way to go and we're running uphill to start the race, but after week four, its downhill and the going will get much easier. By then, the experience the Pack will have gained for these first four weeks against some elite teams will be invaluable. I'm still calling for a 9-3 season with an outright WAC Championship!