Most Arizona fans probably wrote off this Nevada Wolfpack game as an easy win for the Wildcats, but after a shocking win over Washington State last week, the team from Reno has caught the attention of some people.
Also, Arizona played Nevada just two years ago, and should have lost that game. So you can understand why RichRod and Co. have a lot of respect for this team as well.
On how much of Nevada/Washington State he saw live:
I only caught the end of the game because I was watching my son's high school game Friday night. That was a big win for (Nevada) and I'm sure they're going to have a lot of confidence at 2-0 coming into our place.
On if he was surprised by Nevada/WSU outcome:
No, I was surprised that Washington State, they're so explosive offensively and their quarterback is such a good thrower, that they would score more points. But that's one of those games where everything's off just a little bit. Just one of those games where you're like 'jeez'. Plays that they typically make they didn't make. And part of it was Nevada too. They did a great job coming off the ball, tackled really well in space and they were getting pressure on the quarterback, some of it through their blitz scheme, and they were bringing extra guys, forcing them to throw it really quick. And some of it was pressure from four-man rushes.
Who does Nevada QB Nick Fajardo remind you of:
Well, yeah, some of the guys I've had. I've had guys that can run, throw, and he's a tough guy. He reminds me of the guy from BYU, Taysom Hill. He's athletic, physical. I remember (from the New Mexico Bowl) that his decision-making was spot-on. They were running the pistol, and we hadn't figured that out. Every time we did, he made plays on us. They executed extremely well and he was the key. Obviously he's two years older now and more experienced now.
On defending the pistol:
You have to be assignment-sound, but it's almost like playing against a triple-option team. Some of the ways that teams practice against a triple-option team or something like that is they practice without a ball so you're staying on your assignment and not worried about the ball. You're taking care of your gap responsibility and all that. A lot of that's true with defending the pistol and zone-read stuff too, is you can't wander away from your gap responsibility or your assignment. You've got to make sure you take care of your assignment first. Then you can help out. They're not doing the exact same thing (they did two years ago), but they're doing a lot of the same things, and it makes sense because Fajardo's pretty skilled at that.
Biggest threat defensively Nevada poses:
They'll do a lot of inside blitzes with their linebackers. They'll bring six guys up and challenge you a little bit. And they'll do it against anybody. They did it against Washington State who has an experienced quarterback and explosive wideouts. So they'll really pressure you, and force you to execute. So we gotta be ready for that.
On relationship with Nevada head coach Brian Polian:
I've known Brian for quite a few years. He's an outstanding coach. Grew up in a football family and knows the game inside and out and I think he's doing a great job. Coach (Chris) Ault was a legend there, and (Polian) took over, and that's not easy to take over for a Hall of Fame coach, but Coach Polian has done that and he's done some great things. And a great person too.
I watched (Nevada/WSU) and they're a good team. They beat Washington State pretty soundly. We know they're a good team and they always have good teams, but we're going to be ready for 'em. I feel like they're a little simpler on offense (than two years ago), but they do a lot of read-zone. They run it a little bit more, especially in these first two games.
I think they've grown in their confidence. I think they're more confident as a whole defense. They play really hard. They played hard two years ago, but they definitely play a lot harder now as far as I've seen from the film. As long as we pull out the win against a very good Nevada team, I think we'll appreciate the win. They've become a lot better team the last two years, and they showed it against Washington State. They're better, their quarterback is really good. Their defense plays really hard and they don't really make a lot of mistakes. So it'll be awesome to get a win, it'll be a good win. But at the same time with an offense like this, we don't like to make things close.
We just can't have the performance we had last week. Disguising defenses (is the biggest problem they pose). They tend to jump around a little bit just to show what kind of coverage they're going to play in pre-snap and then in post-snap play a different coverage. So there are certain things I gotta study on, just what type of leverage I have, how deep are their safeties, and things like that.