The Nevada football outlook for 2016 season. Can the Wolf Pack finally bust through and start winning big again?
Is Nevada better than this or is this really the ceiling?
Chris Ault caught lightning in a bottle in the magical 2010 season, going 13-1 with Colin Kaepernick at the helm, but since then the Wolf Pack have gone 7-6 in four of the last five years, with an outlier 4-8 2013 season.
This has been a team just good enough to rise up and surprise from time to time like it did with wins over BYU and San Diego State two years ago, and it’s been just mediocre enough to misfire against a miserable Wyoming team last season in a 28-21 loss.
Head coach Brian Polian has been just fine in place of Ault over the last three years, but now this is his team and his chance to put his stamp on it. Considering the East is the stronger division, the West is gettable even with San Diego State looking like a powerhouse. The opportunity is there to bust out of the run of slightly above-average campaigns.
The offense still runs the ball well and it’s still great effective enough at times to take over games – like it did in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl win over Colorado State. And the defense was even decent as the season wore on – it wasn’t a rock, but considering some past disasters, it wasn’t all that bad.
But now the Wolf Pack have to start winning all the games they’re supposed to. Along with that loss to Wyoming came a misfire against UNLV and a close-call 31-27 loss to Utah State. Win those three – or at least the two against the hapless Cowboys and Rebels – and 2015 becomes the breakthrough season with everyone jacked about this year.
Nine starters are back on offense, and that doesn’t even include bowl star running back James Butler. The defense gets gutted, but past Nevada teams have been fine with defenses that couldn’t stop you and ten friends from cranking out yards in chunks.
A 7-6 record doesn’t have to be the norm in Reno. It’s not bad, but for a program that knows what it’s like to be fantastic, it’s not good enough.