Be Disruptive in the run gameThe Wolf Pack defense didn't shutdown Washington State's offense, they disrupted it. They got penetration and pressure into the backfield and forced the Cougars into mistakes and long yardage downs.
It ultimately comes down to avoiding the big plays and tightening up in the red zone, which is what Nevada's defense has done so far this season. Arizona struggled in the red zone on the road against UTSA, the Wolf Pack will hope to force a repeat of that performance. If Nevada hopes to beat Arizona on Saturday, they'll need to get into the backfield and play disciplined, assignment football.
Put pressure on SolomanAnu Soloman, the Wildcat's redshirt freshman signal caller, was a 4 year starter at Gorman High School in Las Vegas, NV, one of the top private high school programs in the country. Gorman won 4 straight Nevada state high school football titles with Soloman at QB. All that's to say, the dual threat Soloman is not to be taken lightly.
He's a redshirt freshman, but he's a redshirt freshman who's played a lot of football at a very high level. That being said, he'll be starting just his 3rd collegiate game when the Wildcats and Wolf Pack face off on Saturday.
Soloman looked like an all-american against UNLV in week one, completing 25-of-44 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns and 60 yards rushing while leading the Wildcats to a school-record 787 yards of total offense.
He looked a little more like a young QB against UTSA in week two as the Roadrunners veteran defense put pressure on him, holding him to a respectable 17-of-32 passing for 231 yards and 27 yards rushing with one touchdown and no interceptions.
If Nevada hopes to win on Saturday they will, at the very least, need to push Soloman out of his comfort zone and into a few mistakes. Even if those mistakes are merely incomplete passes on 3rd and long. Soloman has yet to throw an interception. No doubt the Wolf Pack secondary would like to change that.
Limit the big playArizona's first play from scrimmage against UTSA was a short pass to Cayleb Jones that went 85 yards for a touchdown after the cornerback jumped the wrong route and the safety missed a tackle.
The week before against UNLV, the Wildcats had scoring plays of 39, 63, 92, 49 and 85 yards.
The Wolf Pack gave up 3 big plays to Southern Utah in week one but cleaned things up in week two versus Washington State. Arizona can hurt you in a lot of different ways, the Wolf Pack will need to make them earn their points on long drives and tighten up in the red zone if they hope to win.
Establish the run game and out rush ArizonaNevada is 5-1 under Brian Polian when they have more rushing yards than their opponent, they are 1-7 when that stat is reversed. This will be a tall task as Nevada is averaging 4.1 yards per carry to Arizona's 6.3 yards per carry.
It's just two games into the season so the sample size is low, but it's hard to argue that Nevada's running game hasn't looked a little anemic thus far and Arizona's has looked explosive.
If the Wolf Pack struggles to run the ball effectively while the Wildcats run wild, this game could get out of hand in a hurry.
Also worth noting, Arizona's offense has performed particularly well at home.
Keep their confidence upLast week's win over Washington State was a major boost to Nevada's confidence. Football is often a mental game and the Wolf Pack obviously kept their composure in the game against the Cougars better than they have in any game in the Brian Polian era.
Nevada has several players on their roster who remember well the last time these two teams met. None of those players should have any doubts about whether or not they can play with Arizona.
Jumping out to another lead in this game, to both take the home crowd out of it and sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the Wildcat players, would be a big boost to Nevada's chances of coming away with a win.
The Wolf Pack are going to want to run the ball against the Wildcats and so they must avoid falling behind by a big margin early in the game. If Arizona has a weakness, it's on the defensive line, the strength of their defense being their secondary, Nevada would rather not be forced to throw.
Players to Watch For#12 QB Anu Soloman
Soloman is a dual threat QB who the Wildcat offense will run through. He can throw on the run and beat you with his legs. Arizona will run a lot of triple option out of the spread, it'll start with the halfback dive, move to the quarterback read and then the third option is frequently a short pass.
#28 RB Nick Wilson
This freshman running back has been sensational thus far, rushing for 139 yards per game on 7.51 yards per carry.
#24 RB Terris Jones-Grigsby
Grigsby, the senior running back, is listed as questionable but will likely play. He averaged 9.54 yards per carry against UNLV on 13 carries.
#38 SS (Bandit) Jared Tevis
Tevis is a hybrid linebacker safety who is one of Arizona's most experienced defensive players with 24 career starts. He also leads the Wildcats in tackles with 21, 1.5 tackles for a loss.
#1 WR Cayleb Jones
Soloman has spread the ball around a lot this season but one of his favorite targets is outside receiver Cayleb Jones. Jones is a redshirt sophomore who has lit it up thus far this season, with 7 receptions for 173 yards.
Neil Henderson can be reached via Twitter.