Nevada's defense has gotten some mixed results in the first two games of the seasons, but there is definitely some talent on that side of the ball.
The most talented of the bunch is 6-foot-5, 250 pound senior defensive end Brock Hekking, looks like a wild man and plays like one as well. He’s been one of the better Mountain West pass rushers over the past two years and he’s off to a fast start this season with 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Opposite Hekking is 6-foot-2, 255-pound junior Ian Seau. The nephew of NFL-great Junior Seau, Ian was the talk of the Nevada offseason and so far he’s delivering on that potential, leading the team in sacks and tied in tackles for loss.
Yates is the more physically gifted of the two, but has been inconsistent throughout his career. This duo will need to play better against Arizona than they did against Southern Utah.
Senior Jonathan McNeal is big, physical and the Wolfpack’s best linebacker. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior tallied 103 tackles last season and already has 17 this year to go along with three pass breakups.
Fellow upperclassman Brian Lane Jr. is the other marquee linebacker. While he might not as physical as McNeal, Lane possesses solid instincts and should push for the team lead in tackles. He will need to play well for Nevada to have any chance of stopping the Arizona run game.
Matthew Lyons is the third linebacker and, not coincidentally, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior is in the top three on the team in tackles.
The Wolfpack also have a valuable utility linebacker. Ex walk-on Jordan Dobrich will get plenty of snaps this season and has one sack on the year.
The talk of the Nevada secondary basically starts and ends with 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior Charles Garrett. Garrett is one of the best corners in the conference and already has four pass breakups this season.
Arizona won’t shy away from him, but it will be imperative for Solomon to be careful with his throws, as Garrett has a penchant for being tough to beat.
Lining up across from Garret is cornerback Evan Favors, who started ten games last season. Favors is a solid defensive back and has enough experience to not get rattled on the road.
Strong safety Duran Workman is off to a fast start this season with an interception and a sack. His status is questionable due to a leg injury and should he not be able to go, it would be a relatively big loss for the Wolf Pack.
If Workman does not play, Tere Calloway will get the start. The redshirt freshman has looked decent in his first two games of the season, but it is asking a lot for him to play well on the road for the first time.
Junior College free safety Nigel Haikins will get the start and has an interception this season. This is Haikins' first season starting, but he looks the part.
Players to Watch
#24, CB Charles Garrett: Garrett is one of the more talented cornerbacks the Wildcats will face this season. Physical and instinctive, Garrett has already accumulated four pass breakups. It will be interesting to see how much Arizona throws at him.
#53, DE Brock Hekking: The angular defensive end has been the team’s best pass rusher since his sophomore season. Far from just a pass rusher, Hekking has lived in his opponent’s backfield the last few years and looks to build off the two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks he’s already accumulated.
#92, NT Jordan Hanson: The 280-pound nose tackle is fairly undersized, but will be counted on to plug up the Arizona running game. This will probably be his stiffest test of the season, as Arizona figures to have a massive advantage along the front.
Keys to the Game
Run, run, run: Washington State couldn’t care less about running the ball, and that played right into Nevada’s game plan. Rich Rodriguez won’t make that same mistake, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Nick Wilson flirt with 30 carries again.
Hit the open man: It seems simple, but it isn’t. Arizona has had receivers running open through the first two games, but Solomon has been ca bit inconsistent. If he can start connecting at a higher rate, Arizona's offense will get even better.
Get a comfortable lead early: Nevada has committed more to the run this season and with reasonable success. If Arizona can take control early, Nevada will have to throw. I’m not sure they have the receivers to make the necessary plays.