We have our first in-season Q&A of an opponent this season! Roberrt Deiters handles all things Nevada for our uber-blog Mountain West Connection here at SB Nation. He volunteered to answer my questions this week:
T-Mill: Nevada is 2-1, but that includes a shaky FCS win. What have to seen from them so far that you really like? What have you disliked?
Robert: I have seen Nevada’s offense perform very well this season. The biggest strength for the offense is running the football with James Butler, who has five rushing touchdowns, and the offensive line looking strong in the beginning of the season. On the defense side, Asuni Rufus and Damien Baber are arguably the best safety duo in the Mountain West and have been playing like it in every game. Alex Bartrando has been the best player on the young and developing defensive front seven. I have disliked the front seven for Nevada because of the 383 rushing yards given up to Cal Poly.
The defense is biggest concern for me going into this game against Purdue.
T-Mill: The early kickoff (Noon local, 9am Pacific) would seem to favor Purdue, but Nevada has a bear of a travel schedule this year. How much of a factor is it?
Robert: I don’t think the early kickoff will affect Nevada because they have traveled to Notre Dame and wasn’t a factor against the Fighting Irish as the score was 0-0 in the first quarter. I believe Nevada traveling to West Lafayette, Indiana won’t be much a factor playing Purdue.
T-Mill: James Butler appears to be having a great season so far. What kind of back is he and how do you expect him to perform against a poor Purdue run defense?
Robert: James Butler is an explosive, fast, and physical ruining back. He will make you pay if you leave a gap wide open for him to run. I think he can perform very well against Purdue and can carry the offense on his shoulders. He does pick up the load sometimes when Tyler Stewart is struggling in the game.
T-Mill: Tyler Stewart doesn't look like he throws a ton, but he is effective. How has he looked this year?
Robert: Stewart has looked good this season with getting the ball down the field consistently, expect against Notre Dame. He does get almost everyone involved in the offense when he’s passing the ball. He is not the type of quarterback to throw the ball deep very much, but can easily get quick first downs for Nevada on third down attempts.
T-Mill: Nevada has no sacks this year and Purdue has not given up a sack. what is the story with the pass rush?
Robert: The story on the pass rush is Nevada has struggled getting to the quarterback this season and needs to change going into their game against a Big 10 team. The young defensive line lead by Malik Reed is still growing and learning every game they play in. Nevada’s pass rush will be tested against a passing offense and has faced teams that run the ball than passing it.
T-Mill: What needs to go in Nevada's favor for a win on Saturday?
Robert: Nevada needs to score early and get James Butler involved quickly. The defense needs to stop the run and get to the quarterback early. Tyler Stewart needs to be consistent with throwing the football and not being afraid to throw the ball deep. Nevada needs to limit turnovers and play close defense on the Purdue’s receivers.
Thanks for stopping by, Robert!