Cal Poly at Nevada
Friday, September 2nd, 6:30pm
Line (Atlantis): Not Available as of Wednesday
All-Time: Nevada leads the series 6-3
Here we are. It's the first weekend in September and Nevada is playing an FCS team on a Thursday/Friday. I love starting the season this way for a few reasons. I like that Nevada gets an opponent that they can beat to start, to help ease their way into the season and work out some wrinkles before a much better team is in front of them. The Thursday or Friday game I like because it's gives folks to the chance to not only support the Pack but also enjoy the last weekend of summer as well.
With Lake Tahoe and Truckee so close to Reno, along with Burning Man, the Nugget Rib Cook-Off and many people headed out of town for one last 3-day weekend of the summer, Nevada is smart to schedule these games when they do. It gives them the best chance at having the most people in attendance.
On top of that, the Pack will have two more days of preparation than Notre Dame will, who play a big prime time game Sunday night in Austin and Nevada needs any advantage, perceived or otherwise, that they can get.
On the the actual game. Offensively, I'm really intrigued to see what new Offensive Coordinator Tim Cramsey's offense looks like. Nevada has typically kept their FCS game plans very vanilla during Polian's tenure, which I'm not opposed to in the least, but we'll surely see signs of a different offense on Friday night.
I expect Tyler Stewart to look much better this year, both in the passing and read-option game. If not for any other reason than he has a full year as a starter under his belt and an additional Spring and Fall camp running with the 1's exclusively. This year's wide receiver corps seems like it could be the deepest during the Polian era, should they stay healthy. I'm hoping we get our first glimpses of Ty Gangi behind center as well. He certainly seems to be the QB for 2017 and beyond, so I'm excited to see what he brings to the table.
I'm also interested to see what Akeel Lynch looks like. I feel like he hasn't been discussed much, whether that be in the RGJ, on Twitter among fans or on these forums. James Butler will get 2/3 of the carries this season, without a doubt, but a two-headed beast in the backfield has been customary at Nevada for years and if Lynch can take his 1/3 and put up Don Jackson-like numbers, it's all the better to lower the burden on Butler's shoulders.
Defensively, the Pack has the #NoFlyZone duo of Dameon Baber and Asauni Rufus and a lot of unknowns. I expect big things on the line from Malik Reed, Patrick Choudja and Korey Rush. I'm also thrilled for the debut of Gabe Sewell, who I've been excited about since he signed his LOI. Seemingly, Travis Wilson had a fantastic camp and was rewarded with a starting position.
The best thing about an almost entirely new front seven, is that a lot of these guys have played a significant amount of plays. The Pack has consistently rolled their defensive lineman throughout Polian's first three seasons, which serves two great purposes. Your starters aren't out there for 80 plays a game and wearing out down the stretch and you have young guys playing meaningful snaps.
Cal Poly runs a triple-option offense, which will test the Pack defense early and often. As always, the defenders discipline keeping their assignments is pivotal for thwarting the option attack. Coming out of high school, Rufus nearly went to Cal Poly to be the Mustangs' quarterback.
That is all for this week, folks. Let's all remember that we wait MONTHS for the season to get here. We only get 12-14 games a year, let's all cherish every single week. There's nothing more magical than autumn Saturday's during which a bunch of grown men and women drink in the parking lots for hours, in anticipation of highly fit and unemployed 18-22 year old men playing intercollegiate football!