Nevada Offensive Preview

Arizona will finish its non-conference schedule on Saturday night against Nevada. Read on to find out more about the Wolf Pack, including who the star quarterback is, keys to the game, and more.

Arizona (2-0) will close the non-conference slate on Saturday against Nevada (2-0). A win would mark the third time in as many years that the Wildcats swept the out of conference schedule. It won't be easy for Arizona as the Wolf Pack is coming off a win over Pac-12 foe Washington State.

Senior quarterback Cody Fajardo will lead what was once a potent offense into battle. The firepower that ignited the 2012 New Mexico Bowl classic has yet to show up this season and the star slinger has seen his numbers drop off considerably this year, throwing for just 206 yards per game and only one touchdown so far. He has plenty of inexperience around him, as only one of his starting receivers is an upperclassman.

Don't let Fajardo's low passing numbers fool you. He can still get things done with his feet and he has proved it so far this season, rushing for 168 yards in the first two games of the season, including a 100-yard performance for him against the Cougars last week.

The lone senior receiver in the starting lineup is Richy Turner. The upperclassman is second on the team in catches, though most of them have been short, quick passes. He has eleven receptionson the year, but has tallied just 73 yards on them. Turner can be dangerous on short third downs if he is given enough of a cushion.

The leading receiver for the Wolf Pack is Jerico Richardson. The sophomore has caught 13 balls for 177 yards this season and should be viewed as the most dangerous receiver on the team. Richardson is followed closely by fellow sophomore Hasaan Henderson, who has nine catches for 118 yards. The lone touchdown was caught by tight end Patrick Clifford as one of his two catches for the year.

Fajardo can get things done on his feet, but so can his running backs Don Jackson and James Butler. Jackson, the starting junior, gets the bulk of the work for Nevada, but sometimes lacks that extra level of explosiveness to break away. He is averaging 89.5 yards on the ground and has a team-high three touchdowns.

Butler, a true freshman, is third in rushing behind Fajardo with an average of 43 yards per game. Head Coach Brian Polian has some confidence in him, as he has given Butler the ball near the goal line on several occasions, resulting in two scores for the rookie.

Arizona will have its hands full with the quarterback, but the rest of the offense leaves much to be desired. If the Wildcats can find a way to put points on the scoreboard, the Wolf Pack may have trouble trying to keep pace.

Players to Watch:

#17 - QB, Cody Fajardo: The senior quarterback joined an exclusive club last week when he amassed over 10,000 yards of total offense for his career at Nevada. When the game is tight, he has found ways to make plays. Look for him to be the go-to player on Saturday.

#20 - RB, James Butler: The freshman is somewhat of a wild card in the game. He gained more trust as fall camp progressed and saw numerous carries in the redzone last week. If his confidence is high, he could make some big plays.

#12 - WR, Hassan Henderson: The sophomore receiver will likely be lined up opposite Jarvis McCall Jr and Cameron Denson. This matchup should be watched closely as McCall struggled last week at UTSA and was replaced by Denson late in the game. It will be interesting to see how each handles sharing time on Henderson.

Keys to the Game:

  • Contain Fajardo: So much emphasis has been put on the Wildcats getting pressure on the quarterback, but this is a game where the pressure could be there and the defense would still be struggling. The front seven will have their hands full worrying about Fajardo's quickness and ability to extend the play.

  • Limit third-down efficiency: UTSA was 3-6 on third downs when they took the lead against Arizona last week, but the Wildcats were able to take the lead back with a phenomenal effort by the defense on third downs late in the game. The defense should be fine against Nevada if it can limit third down conversions and stop drives.

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