Mountain West spotlight: Nevada leans on new quarterback, strong defensive front


Coach: Brian Polian

Record: 11-14 (third season); 11-14 career

Last year: 7-6 overall, 4-4 MW

Last bowl: 2014 New Orleans (L, 16-3 against Louisiana-Lafayette)

Returning starters: 6 offense, 5 defense, 4 specialists

Story line: Junior Tyler Stewart was named Nevada's starting quarterback Aug. 20. He is hoping to be just the third Wolf Pack QB to start a majority of the games since 2007. As usual, the Wolf Pack will have a strong running game to help the transition, led by Don Jackson (957 yards in 2014). The offensive line will be a bit inexperienced, but the defense is improving behind a tough front seven. Nevada lost four games by seven points or fewer last season.

Star player: Senior defensive end Ian Seau has the talent to match his famous name (his uncle is the late Junior Seau). The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder led the Wolf Pack with 8.5 sacks last season. He loses the gloriously-maned Brock Hekking on the other side, but Nevada has depth, which should mean another solid season for Seau.

Quotable: "The one thing this year compared to a couple years ago ... I think we're better built to support that person." — Polian on the quarterback race

NOTE: This is the fourth in our series profiling the Mountain West’s football teams (except Boise State). We will start with the West Division, and go in reverse order of the preseason poll, found here.

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San Jose State