Facts & figures
Where: Reno (231,027)
Colors: Navy blue and silver
Nickname: Wolf Pack
Record: 3-3, 2-1 Mountain West
Last game: Lost 51-44 (OT) at San Diego State on Oct. 4.
Brian Polian, 38, prepared for his first head coaching opportunity by spending the past eight years as an assistant at Notre Dame (2005-09), Stanford (2010-11) and Texas A&M (2012). For all of those years, he was in charge of special teams. And throughout his career, he has been a key recruiter. His father, Bill Polian, is a former NFL executive who helped build the Buffalo Bills Super Bowl teams of the 1990s and the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl teams of the 2000s.
The Wolf Pack still operate a pistol-based offense, but they have expanded their running and passing concepts. The run game has created some concern because the Pack average an unusually low 3.6 yards per carry, but that number should improve as quarterback Cody Fajardo (272 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, 5 TDs) regains his mobility. Fajardo says hes healthy now after spraining a knee Sept. 7. Tailback Kendall Brock is the leading rusher (417 yards, 5 TDs). Fajardo averages 296.2 passing yards per game. All-Mountain West first-teamer Brandon Wimberly is the top wide receiver with 46 catches, 412 yards and 5 TDs.
The Wolf Pack have installed a cover-two defense under the direction of Scottie Hazelton, the former defensive coordinator at Football Championship Subdivision juggernaut North Dakota State. He spent last year as an assistant at USC under Monte Kiffin. The defense relies largely on a four-man pass rush and zone coverage. It hasnt worked so far but then, as Polian pointed out, the Wolf Pack defense wasnt a strong suit before, either. The defense ranks 115th or worse in yards allowed, rushing yards allowed and points allowed. Junior defensive end Brock Hekking is the star, with four sacks and two forced fumbles.
Kicker Brent Zuzo is 6-for-6 on field goals and punter Chase Tenpenny averages 44.0 yards to give the Pack a solid pair of specialists. The coverage and return units, however, have been outperformed by their opponents.
Did you know?
Nevada has been outscored 86-33 in the third quarter. The Wolf Pack have a plus-7 scoring differential for the rest of the game.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398; Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat