The records: WSU (1-0, 0-0 Pac-10), Nevada (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
Last week: WSU beat Idaho 38-26, Nevada hasn’t played a game yet.
Last time: WSU beat Nevada 31-7 on Aug. 31, 2002, in Seattle. It was the first meeting of the two teams.
What it means for WSU: The Cougars failed to overwhelm most observers in a 12-point win against Idaho in their opener, and it’ll be important to show something more against Nevada, the closest thing to a tough opponent they’ll see before hitting the teeth of the Pac-10 schedule. This is, by all accounts, the most losable game on the WSU non-conference schedule, and anything other than a solid win here could bode trouble down the road. This game also gives the Cougars their first test on the road, where they’ll likely need to win at least another game – if not two or three – later in the season.
What it means for Nevada: The Wolf Pack are unveiling new schemes on offense and defense under head coach Chris Ault, who is in the second year of his third go-round at the helm in Reno. As such, the season-opener will serve as a proving ground for both schemes and it’s a safe bet that Nevada fans will be watching closely to see how new players and ideas pan out. WSU is Nevada’s marquee opponent in the first half of the season, so a close game or a win for the Wolf Pack will be a very encouraging sign coming off of a 5-7 season.
Nevada’s best: Head coach Chris Ault is entering his 21st year as the head coach at Nevada, having coached the Wolf Pack from 1976-92, 1994-95, and again beginning with last season. Ault was the athletic director, but stepped down from that role in 2004 when he hired himself as head football coach.
•Jeff Rowe will be quarterbacking the Wolf Pack for a second season, operating a new “pistol” offense, which positions the signal-caller three or four yards behind the line of scrimmage, less than a normal shotgun offense. Last season, running a different scheme, Rowe threw for 2,633 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
•Defensively, the Wolf Pack will run a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who was at Ohio last season. Nose tackle Matt Hines, a 285-pound sophomore, will anchor the defensive line.
The numbers: According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, only 14,000 tickets had been sold as of late last week. That number does not include 3,500 tickets allotted to the student population.
•The Wolf Pack allowed 34.4 points a game in 2004, 105th out of 117 teams in the Division I-A.
•Four of WSU’s six scoring drives last week began on the 50-yard line or better.
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