San Jose State Spartans & Nevada Wolf Pack Football History, Nov 6, 2021 Play Analysis & Preview

Site: Mackay Stadium – Reno, NV

Date hour : Saturday, November 6 at 7:00 p.m. PDT

Broadcast: Fox sports 2

Radio: KTRB (860 AM, San Francisco) and Sirius XM Radio Channel 989

One-on-one story: Nevada (6-2, 3-1 MW) is 22-10-2 over San Jose State (5-4, 3-2 MW) in a series that technically began two centuries ago in 1899.

Fast forward 120 years, highly regarded Nevada head coach Jay Norvell leads 3-1 against the teams of Spartans head coach Brent Brennan.

“Jay Norvell is a great head coach and it shows year after year,” said Brennan. “Its teams have played high-caliber football and regularly participate in bowling games. We’ve had some crazy battles and his teams are just tough and play with physique and discipline.

Brennan added, “I told Jay that I don’t think he gets enough credit for his quality. I really believe he’s one of the best coaches in the country and definitely in this conference and he doesn’t always get that kind of love.


Behind love there are numbers

Like last year’s Wolf Pack team; Nevada has scary numbers yet again this year, led by confident NFL Carson Strong as quarterback. Strong leads the pass offense for third in the country:

  • 384.1 yards per game
  • 71% completion rate
  • 158.52 passage efficiency
  • 46% down third-party conversions
  • 91% scoring efficiency in the red zone
  • 456.5 yards average of total offense

How the Spartan defense contrasts with the Nevada offense:

  • 212 average passing yards allowed per game
  • 39% success rate stopping third-party conversions down
  • Average of 353 yards of total infractions abandoned per game

A few possible Nevada weaknesses that the Spartans certainly know:

  • Average 8 penalties per game (conceding 67 yards per game)
  • 129th nationally for rushing with 72.4 yards per game

It could be drops of water on the last two, where the Spartans got the best of their opponents; given the revenge factor and the Mountain West champion’s targets on the back.

For example, Wolf Pack running back Toa Taua only crossed 100 yards once and that was during Nevada’s big win over Boise. Taua’s breakout potential is still there given that Wyoming’s Xavavian Valladay has only collected 172 rushing yards in Wyoming’s previous three games until Valladay rushed for 172 yards at a time on the Spartans last week.

Every conference game for the Spartans has been competitive one-scoring matches, regardless of whether the teams were winless or nationally ranked. It could mean that the teams play against the Spartans or vice versa. Or both. Or it’s the parity factor. Or all of the above.

The shock factor of last year’s shells

In the first half of last year’s game, the Nevada favorite was doing what everyone knew they could do after a 20-7 halftime lead.

Then the second half hit, as did Spartan returner Shamar Garrett and running back Tyler Nevens with a 98-yard kickoff return and 69-yard touchdown run, respectively. Nevens rushed for a career-high 184 yards in this 30-20 win for San Jose State.

In that second half of last year, Nevada failed to score and only managed 122 yards of attack. The Spartans finished with 506 total yards of attack at the time.

On TV you could still literally see that the wolf pack couldn’t shake the amazement of what was happening to them.

This year, Norvell will not let them reproduce. Wolf Pack Reflection Caps will be enabled.

How the Spartans can still be successful this year

Since we’re going back in time, the 2019 game was one of those games that should have been won for the Spartans with a team led by QB Josh Love (Love also just signed to the Carolina training squad. Panthers).

Down 21 points from mistakes and turnovers two years ago, the Spartans lost this one on a last-second placement 41-38. So theoretically suppose a 2-2 record between the head coaches is another and that 2021 game should have been the coach’s tiebreaker.

Back to the reality: this year it’s the same necessary, as with any game, any year, any time – minus penalties, turnovers and most importantly dropped balls – even on potential interceptions.

The 2021 Spartan defense grew stronger with every game and overall, slowly minimizing penalties and increasing turnovers.

But also, the revenue differential is potentially a huge factor this time around. The Spartans are at -7. The pack of wolves +9. That has to equalize for San Jose State to have a good chance.

The assumption is that the same Spartan defense will do its job and more, as it will be about more than motivation.

The Spartan offense now relies on quarterback Nick Nash and every week we see growth.

We’re seeing more winning games and performance affecting the game, but there is still much, much more that Nash can do with his arm.

“Week after week, we’re starting to see more of her comfort in the program,” Brennan said on Nash. “And a little more of his aggressive decision making where he throws the football or pulls it down to make a play, so I’m really excited about his progress.”

Asked about quarterback Nick Starkel’s next availability, Brennan added: “I absolutely hope he will be available soon and that you will see him before the end of the season.”

We know Nash will be looking for 6’4, 235 lbs. TE Derrick Deese Jr. Deese is also among eight finalists for the 2021 John Mackey National Tightend Award (Nevada begs to differ with their own tight star, 6’6, 240 lbs Cole Turner with equal or greater numbers).

Facing Nash, the unsung heroes of any game or team will be the offensive line. If they’re still solid and hold true, you’ll see Nash and Nevens and their company doing some damage.

Bean counters favored Nevada between one and two touchdowns.

We won’t disagree, but let’s say the game should be much closer than that because analysts can’t quantify intangibles.

The expectation is a Nevada win within a touchdown margin, but would be happy to eat crow – cooked, of course.