The Nevada Wolf Pack had five sacks, eight tackles for loss, forced two fumbles and had an interception against the weak Colorado State offense. It was a much better performance than in the season opener against FCS foe Eastern Washington, which scored 24 points. The Rams had just two field goals and 272 yards total offense.
It was a much-needed boost for the much-maligned Nevada defense, which has been under fire for more than two seasons. New defensive coordinator Andy Buh showed that the unit is making progress.
With two new safeties in the starting lineup -- sophomores Marlon Johnson and Duke Williams combined for 12 tackles -- the Wolf Pack may have discovered a solution to its woes in he secondary.
"We wanted to prove that we can play consistently. Since I've been here we haven't completed a whole game. We'd play a good quarter or a good half, but we wouldn?t complete a whole game," junior linebacker James-Michael Johnson told the Reno Gazette Journal. Johnson had a team-high nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks.
But the feel-good story about the defense will get a serious test next week against California. The Bears have scored 52 points in each of their first two games.
--K Anthony Martinez, who started the first two games in place of suspended starter Ricky Drake, was perfect again against Colorado State. Martinez made all three of his field goal attempts against the Rams and is a perfect 12-for-12 on extra-point tries. Martinez is tentatively the starter going forward, but Drake will have a chance to regain the job in practice.
--QB Colin Kaepernick rushed for 161 yards against Colorado State and became the ninth player in NCAA history to rush for 3,000 yards and pass for 3,000 yards. Kaepernick had a 57-yard run on the second play from scrimmage to set up the rout.
--Nevada allowed six points against Colorado State, the fewest since November 2006 when the Wolf Pack shut out Louisiana Tech.
--Rishard Matthews, a transfer from Bakersfield College, had a team-high six catches and 87 yards.
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Colin Kaepernick -- The senior makes the Wolf Pack offense go. He rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 11 rushes against Colorado State. But, more importantly, Kaepernick completed 21 of 29 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. He accounted for 402 total yards and four touchdowns. The quarterback has completed 71 percent of his passes through two games this season.
KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Dontay Moch -- The reigning WAC defensive player of the year had five tackles (all solo), forced a fumble and had one sack. Moch has 42 tackles for loss in his career.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We wanted to prove that we can play consistently. Since I've been here, we have completed a whole game. We'd play a good quarter or a good half, but wouldn't complete a whole game." -- Junior linebacker James-Michael Johnson to the Reno Gazette Journal, about the team's defense.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The biggest question mark for Nevada has been the defense, which is why the key stat in the 51-6 victory against Colorado State is the six points allowed. It is the fewest point allowed by Nevada since 2006. Nevada held Colorado State to 272 yards, including just 78 on the ground. The Rams averaged 2.5 yards per rush. With two new starters at safety -- Marlon Johnson replaced injured Corbin Louks and Duke Williams returned from suspension -- the Wolf Pack may have found a solution in the defensive secondary. Nevada added five sacks.
STILL NEEDS WORK: After the impressive 51-6 victory against Colorado State, it's hard to point out negatives for Nevada, which scored on its first nine possessions. No doubt the Wolf Pack would like to score touchdowns instead of settling for three short field goals. K Anthony Martinez had field goals of 31, 33 and 28 yards.
--S Marlon Johnson got his first career start in place of injured Corbin Louks (knee). Johnson, a sophomore, had seven tackles.
--S Duke Williams (suspension) returned to the lineup against Colorado State. Williams had five tackles, including one for loss.
--RB/KR Mike Ball played but did not get any carries. He missed practice Thursday and Friday with a virus.