RIDING THE PINE: Injuries may doom Wolf Pack’s season
Injuries are ravaging Nevada’s quarterbacks.
First it was a knee injury to starter Cody Fajardo. On Tuesday, it was revealed backup junior Devin Combs suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee against Florida State, leaving redshirt freshman Tyler Stewart with the keys to the engine.
The Wolf Pack, who only carries three QB’s on the roster, will have to hope Fajardo stays healthy for the remainder of the season. If not, a winning season is lost.
The defense isn’t good enough to withstand Nevada’s schedule, especially against Fresno State, San Jose State, San Diego State and BYU. Throw in run-happy Air Force and seven losses are likely if Fajardo cannot stay upright.
Stewart, meanwhile, may get his first start of the season on Saturday against Hawaii at Mackay Stadium in Reno as Fajardo is still listed day-to-day.
Head coach Brian Polian’s recruiting class must contain a big-bodied signal caller. While Fajardo has been solid throughout his career, his slim body type cannot handle the weekly pounding required from a Pistol QB.
He’s missed nearly two games last season, and this season is in jeopardy. Good thing Polian and his staff held Fajardo out against the Seminoles.
But the QB quandary is only half of the Pack’s problems. The defense must be better heading into conference play.
The Pack ranks last in the Mountain West Conference in total defense (520 yards per game) and rushing defense (280 ypg). Granted, Nevada has played against the hardest schedule, so far, in the conference, but even against FCS UC Davis the gaps were noticeable.
The offense must carry the defense and light up the scoreboard if the Pack aims to compete for .500, let alone a division title. By default, Nevada’s season hinges on Fajardo’s knee and other potential injuries lurking from a long season.
Winning, though, is contagious and Nevada can overcome its obstacles week-by-week, win-by-win.
It starts Saturday against Hawaii, a team the Pack has owned in Reno. Air Force, who pounded the Pack last season, comes to Reno and win over the Falcons could do wonders for the teams confidence.
The good news, the Pack has their bye week before a trip to face their nemesis, Boise State. Perhaps the scariest thought, though, is Nevada may have a battle for the Freemont Cannon against UNLV on Oct. 26.
Of course UNLV stinks, but should Fajardo’s injuries become an issue later in the season, this game will be as close as last season when Fajardo sat out.
All-in-all, it’s going to be rough season for the boys in blue … and white and gray.
Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.