“Arizona is a quality football team,” Polian said. “They present some unique challenges the same way Washington State did. Similar to Washington State, Coach Rodriguez has been there for three years.
“There was a dramatic change in some philosophy between he and Coach Stoops and now Coach Rodriguez has had three years to recruit his guys and get them into their system.”
Some people are quick to compare Washington State and Arizona’s offense, but Polian says that Arizona presents a few more challenges.
“They are an explosive offense, but more multiple with their attack and there will be a much more concerted effort to run the football,” Polian said. “They have guys on each side of the ball that grab your attention and I would imagine the close game they had down at UTSA will get them refocused and ready for us.”
Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon struggled at times against UTSA, but Nevada feels he can hurt it in numerous ways.
“Anu Solomon had big numbers against UNLV and came back down to earth a little bit against UTSA,” Polian said. “He is a talented thrower, only completed about 50 percent of this throws last week and I am sure there are some throws he would like back. He is effective as a runner and he will hurt you as a runner, so we have to make sure we keep him in check.
“The quarterback, we have to try and make him make decisions. We can’t make it comfortable for him. They have a couple transfers there, one from Texas and one from USC, that he beat out, so clearly he is a good football player. Coach Rodriguez is not going to put a bad quarterback out there, it’s not like they didn’t have choices.”
When asked if he was excited to see his defense against Arizona’s offense, Polian gave an honest answer.
“I’m not eager to play against a team that runs it for 288 yards a game,” he said. “It’s going to be a litmus test. That’s like when they ask Tom Brady if he is excited to play against the Patriots. No, it’s hard.
“It will be a litmus test, there’s no doubt. We’re going to have to put on our big boy pants. It’s going to be a physical football game.”
Arizona’s offense gets the majority of attention, but Polian was also quick to credit the defense, specifically three players.
“In my opinion the defensive backfield is the strength of their defense,” he said. “They can run, they hit, they tackle, and they can cover man to man, which is going to be a challenge for us.
“In terms of their difference makers, Reggie Gilbert is a long armed pass rusher. Scooby Wright not only does he have a great name, but he is ah are charging, high motor, physical linebacker.
“Jared Tevis I really like. He is all over the place. He’s kind of that hybrid guy that plays some safety but really hits like a linebacker. I have a lot of respect for him and think he is a really good player.”
There are at least two major points of emphasis for Nevada as it heads to the desert in hopes of a win.
“We have to try and control the clock and run it effectively enough,” Polian said. “I think there is some similarity to last week in the approach this week.
“We’re going to have to beat man to man coverage at some point in the game. That is a Pac-12 front seven and we’re going to have to run the ball successfully. We don’t have to run it for 350 yards, but we have to run it with some success to execute our game plan.”
Polian and Rich Rodriguez have a relationship that goes beyond the field, as Polian recounts an earlier experience with the Arizona head coach.
“Coach Rodriguez, I have had the chance to get to know him personally through some meetings and stuff that we do,” Polian said. “I like him very much and we have had an opportunity to sit together and he has allowed me to pick his brain and kind of talk about being a head coach and I have a lot of respect for him. This will be a cool opportunity to be across the field from him.
“The good guys in this business do share ideas and opinions on stuff and how things are going and the future of our game.”