With Spring football completed, here are the three things we learned from Nevada football following spring football and the Battle Born Showdown.
Three Observations On Nevada Football After Spring Football
The 2022 edition of spring football is in the books for the Wolf Pack. The Battle Born Showdown that took place on April 23rd between the Silver and Blue teams marked the end of spring football for Nevada.
This version of spring football for Nevada is marked by major changes for the Wolf Pack football program. Gone are NFL-bound players such as Carson Strong, Romeo Doubs and Cole Turner and also gone is former head coach Jay Norvell as he departs to coach the Colorado State Rams.
Stepping in the head coaching role for Nevada is Ken Wilson who comes over from the University of Oregon where he was a defensive coordinator. With this edition of the Battle Born Showdown, Wilson brought over from Oregon a new scoring system. This scoring system allows for the defense to score points whenever they record a tackle for loss, three and outs, takeaways and sacks.
As for the game between the Blue team and Silver team, it was a close contest throughout the whole contest. The difference was when Silver running back Wes Kommer scored on a 55-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that propelled the Silver team to a 55-46 win over the Blue team.
With spring practices over, here are my three observations of Nevada football post spring football:
The offensive line for Nevada this spring underwent a major personnel change as the Wolf Pack returns only one starter from last year’s team, right tackle Aaron Frost. Nevada not only are going through a personnel shift, they are going through a change in playing style from the Air Raid to a more balanced attack that emphasizes running the ball.
To try to achieve a more balanced offense, the Wolf Pack brought in three offensive linemen transfers with playing experience in Joey Capra (San Diego State), Kai Arenson (Oregon), and Cole Feinauer (Colorado State) In the Battle Born Showdown, the offensive line and the run game struggled in the first half but in the second half, there were signs of improvement capped off by Kommer’s game winning touchdown run.
The up-and-down nature of Nevada’s offensive line demonstrates that the unit must improve over the summer. If the offensive line improves then the run game will benefit and the new balanced offense Nevada is installing can flourish.
It goes without saying that it will be no easy task for Nevada to replace Carson Strong and his production. With the new offense Coach Wilson is establishing, the quarterbacks will not be tasked to put up big Air Raid type numbers but just be solid and avoid mistakes.
In the Battle Born Showdown, the Nevada quarterbacks: Nate Cox, Jake Barlage, Jonah Chong and Baylor Horning all had their moments taking snaps under center. Jake Barlage’s highlight was completing a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamaal Bell as Bell finished the game with three catches for 49 yards.
However, it was Nate Cox’s performance in the Battle Born Showdown that further solidified him being the favorite to be the starting quarterback. Cox completed 9 of 20 passes for 177 passing yards and one touchdown pass which was a 77 bomb from Cox to Victor Snow. With Oklahoma State QB transfer Shane Illingworth expected to be available during summer camp, look for Cox and Illingworth to compete for the starting quarterback job throughout summer and possibly into the fall.
In total, the Nevada quarterbacks completed 20 of 50 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns during the spring game. Basically this is the type of quarterback play Wolf Pack fans should expect in the future: solid, steady and turnover free.
Senior running backs Toa Taua and Devontae Lee have been the two key cogs in the Wolf Pack running attack in the last few years. Under Coach Wilson’s new balanced offense that features a primary focus on running the ball, expect Taua and Lee to be utilized even more than previous seasons. Taua and Lee’s importance in running the ball will be key as they are going to be needed to take the pressure off of the quarterback no matter who ends up starting at QB for Nevada.
The big question for Nevada is who is going to back up Taua and Lee at running back. The favorite to back up Taua and Lee now that spring football is over seems to be Wesley Kommer. Kommer, a 5-foot 9 junior from Oregon, rushed for 98 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown in the spring game as he led all Nevada running backs in carries and rushing yards.
Kommer is a shifty, speedier running back as opposed to Taua and Lee and could be a nice change of pace running back for Nevada this season. The race to be the third running back for Nevada this season will be for now a three-person race with Kommer, sophomore Jacques Badolato-Birdsell and Oregon transfer Cross Patton looking to back up Taua and Lee this fall.
More Mountain West Football!
Mountain West Football: Post-Spring Practice Offensive Line Rankings
Mountain West Football: Post-Spring Practice Specialist Rankings
Mountain West Football: Post-Spring Practice Defensive Line Rankings