Three Arizona Bowl Questions For Matthew Kenerly of the Mountain West

Three Arizona Bowl Questions For Matthew Kenerly of the Mountain West

Arkansas State

Three Arizona Bowl Questions For Matthew Kenerly of the Mountain West


Three Questions For Matthew Kenerly of the Mountain West Wire

Heading into the NOVA Arizona Bowl, we don’t know a whole hell of a lot about the Nevada Wolf Pack. So Sun Belt Heat consulted an expert. 

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Arkansas State and Nevada haven’t thrown hands since 1999, when both programs were members of the legendary Big West. Nearly 20 years later, the Red Wolves and Wolf Pack reunite at the NOVA Arizona Bowl. We reached out to Mountain West Wire‘s Matt Kenerly for penetrating insight.

1. Who’s the alpha of the Wolf Pack, defense and offense?

MK: On defense, the answer is pretty clearly Malik Reed, who underwent a position switch in the last off-season but didn’t look any less dangerous. He led Nevada in tackles for loss and sacks at linebacker after spending most of his collegiate career at defensive end, so he’ll be a tough assignment wherever he lines up.
On offense, I’d probably give the nod to quarterback Ty Gangi, who went out and had almost exactly the same kind of productive season he did as a junior last fall. He also leads the Mountain West in 20-yard pass plays despite playing in 2-3 fewer games than the likes of Jordan Love and Brett Rypien, so he isn’t afraid to stretch the field.

2. On paper, Nevada and Arkansas State seem identical. If the Wolf Pack has a weakness, where is it?

MK: You could make a case that the running game has been hit or miss this season: The Wolf Pack averaged more than six yards per carry four times, but averaged fewer than 3.5 YPC five times. I wouldn’t call it a weakness, per say, because true freshman Toa Taua has been very good for the offense, but it is a part of the attack that top defenses like Fresno State and Boise State had success in taking away.

3. Since the end of the regular season, the Wolf Pack has announced four transfers, including sophomore WR McLane Mannix. Will these losses have an effect on the game?

MK: I don’t think so. Regarding Mannix, Nevada still has a slew of guys who can go get it down the field: Elijah Cooks, for instance, has just 22 catches but seven of more than 20 yards and hauled in six scores. Between he and Romeo Doubs and Kaleb Fossum, Arkansas State will still have their hands full.
(Safety) Nephi Sewell might be tougher to replace since his safety spot will be filled by redhpshirt freshman Tyson Williams, but there’s plenty of experience at the back of the Nevada defense between Dameon Baber and Asauni Rufus.

BONUS: The Red Wolves and Wolf Pack haven’t met since the 1990s. What do Nevada fans think of this game?

The impression I have is that they’re excited to put an exclamation point on what’s been a pretty strong resurgence. After a few years in the wilderness, and with a few key contributors like Reed and Gangi suiting up for their last game, Nevada fans are ready to take down one last worthy opponent.Arkansas State meets Nevada at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, 12:15 PM CST for the Nova Arizona Bowl. The game can be viewed on CBS Sports Network, which isn’t ESPN.

Matthew Kenerly is an editor and writer at Mountain West Wire, a part of the USA Today Sports Media Group, and acted as editor for Eli Boettger’s “Bracketology: Science Behind the NCAA Tournament Selection Process.” Also, I stole this info from Matt’s LinkedIN profile. 

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A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space. 

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