Nevada Football: A look at their two-game start, by the numbers

The Ken Wilson era is off to a clean start!

The Nevada Wolf Pack moved to 2-0 on Saturday, posting a 38-14 record over the Texas State Bobcats in their home opener at Mackay Stadium.

However, Nevada’s competition in their first two games was lackluster; they faced two foes who ranked 128th and 118th (out of 130 teams) in SP+ in 2021, respectively, although some of the results have been very encouraging given the lack of experience on the roster.

Anyway, let’s look at this two-game sample by the numbers through those two games, even though the sample size and the discrepancy of the competition in Mountain West suggest they might mean nothing come season’s end.

46 – The last time a Wolf Pack head coach started 2-0 in his first season as head coach with the program was Chris Ault in 1976. That’s a span of 46 years; Nevada has had four other coaches since its debut, not including Wilson. Before Ault, Jake Lawlor did the same thing in 1952.

9 – Nevada forced nine turnovers for the first time in its first two games this century, the farthest back Sports Reference will record. He registered six to start 2019, four in 2014 and three each in 2012, 2013, 2018 and 2021.

1 – Nevada’s plus-nine billing margin is first in the entire FBS. Only one other team has one over five (Western Kentucky – plus-7). It’s understandable from the angle that Nevada is one of 15 teams, along with WKU, to have played two games through Week 1. But a plus-nine margin is still insane.

10 – The Wolf Pack defense has forced at least four turnovers in a single game just 10 times in the 21st century, according to Sports Reference. Add two more to the sheet!

two – They’ve only done it twice in a single season: in 2015 and 2021. Now they’ve done it once again, and we’re only two games into the season. Nevada has never accomplished that feat three times since 2000.

7 – The wolf pack has now held its opponent below 310 yards multiple times in a single season in seven of the last nine seasons. The most that happened in a single year was four times in 2018.

3.6 – While the Pack have often been given favorable field position, they have struggled offensively, especially on early downs. On first downs (excluding penalties/sacks), they are averaging 3.6 yards per play, which, in a vacuum, doesn’t seem horrible — but that includes only six plays of more than 12 yards (of 52). Take them out, and he sinks to an awful 1.9 yards per play on those downs.

38 – Speaking of favorable field position, Nevada’s average starting field position has been at their… own 38-yard line. Pretty good, huh?

38.7 – The Pack have converted 38.7 percent of their third-down attempts, ranking in the middle of the pack (No. 73 nationally).

66.1 – Ken Wilson has emphasized that he would like to establish the race much more than the previous Norvell Air Raid scheme. Nevada has run the ball on about 66.1 percent of its snaps.

3.5 – There have been brief moments of brilliance, but the running game has ultimately been ineffective thus far, totaling just 3.5 yards per carry. His top two running backs, Devonte Lee and Toa Taua, are averaging 4.1 yards per attempt.

5.2 – On his passing plays, he hasn’t been as effective either. Illingworth and Cox combined to average just 5.2 yards per attempt. It’s not a perfect metric by any means, but it does amount to something.

10 – A total of 10 different Pack players have caught a pass in two games. Jamaal Bell leads the way with nine receptions for 71 yards.

2019 – The last time Nevada started the season without a touchdown pass in each of its first two games was in 2019, Carson Strong’s first season as a starter. The team did not throw for a touchdown in three other games that season.

two – They are one of only two teams to have played two games without a touchdown pass. The other? The enemy of the west of the mountain, Hawaii.

8 – Nevada has scored on eight of its nine red zone drives, including five touchdowns.

5 – Nevada has won five straight home openers! And they’ve also won nine of their last 10.

24.4 – The average margin of victory in those five wins has been 24.4 points, where Saturday’s game fell. Though that’s bolstered by a 53-point win over Portland State in 2018.

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