Nevada has Vanderbilt's attention after scoring 72 points
By TERESA M. WALKER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Scoring 72 points in a single football game catches a coach's attention, so Nevada lost any chance of sneaking up on the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first ever game between the programs.
"Anytime that you see somebody hang up points and you look at it and man, they've got good skilled players," Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. "All you have to do is watch the App State game against Penn State to know and understand. Obviously, Nevada's a better opponent. But football's football. It doesn't matter what conference you play in. You get between the white lines, you got to get ready to play."
Nevada of the Mountain West Conference is coming off a 72-19 win over Portland State with the most points scored by the Wolf Pack at home since 1991, and only Fresno State and Ohio State scored more to open the season. Second-year coach Jay Norvell likes his offense to push the ball down the field, and he has a senior quarterback in Ty Gangi leading the way.
Going up against a Southeastern Conference opponent, the fifth all-time for Nevada, isn't going to stop that.
"Offensively, we're going to do what we do," Norvell said. "We're going to play our style of football, try to use our playmakers and find an edge and press the envelope at every opportunity we can. We have very contrasting styles in this game, which I think is good for us. I'm excited about it."
Vanderbilt beat Middle Tennessee 35-7 , scoring the final 28 points of the game. Mason thought the Commodores could've thrown the ball downfield more themselves so this game kicking off Saturday morning local time could see plenty of scoring on both sides.
Some things to know about Nevada and Vanderbilt:
The Commodores believe they have something good working on defense this season, and they held another senior quarterback to only 78 yards passing over the final three quarters of their opener. They also piled up six sacks, and starting safety LaDarius Wiley will be back after being ejected in the first quarter for targeting. They see Nevada as a good test of what the Commodores could do.
"They're a high-scoring offense, we're a high-powered defense," Vanderbilt linebacker Josh Smith said. "We'll have to come to the game and be ready to play."
Yes, Nevada has a very potent offense averaging 2.93 points per minute of possession time, best in the nation. Starting wide receiver Brendan O'Leary-Orange, who missed the opener with a strained back, should be available against Vanderbilt. Not that Nevada missed him with Kaleb Fossum catching six passes for 139 yards.
WE KNOW MANNIX
Mason knows Nevada's McLane Mannix very well, having recruited the wide receiver to Vanderbilt. Mannix is starting as a sophomore for the Wolf Pack, and he opened the season with three of his four catches going for touchdowns. Mannix finished with 132 yards receiving. Vanderbilt wanted Mannix for his speed and to play a different position. "He's turned into quite a weapon out there in Nevada," Mason said. "I wish him all the best, and we'll get to see him play on Saturday."
POUND AND GROUND
Vanderbilt has Kyle Shurmur at quarterback, and the senior now has thrown a touchdown pass in nine straight games. As much as Mason wanted offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to call a few more deep passes, the Commodores have a packed backfield. Khari Blasingame, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Josh Crawford and Jamauri Wakefield all got to carry the ball in the opener, and Blasingame ran for 43 yards on five plays to open the game with a drive he capped with a 30-yard TD run. "We still have a lot to show as an offense," right guard Bruno Reagan said.
Nevada flew to Nashville on Thursday to help adapt and prepare for a noon ET kickoff that feel like 9 a.m. for the Wolf Pack. Norvell says he's hoping their conditioning at elevation will help with the heat and humidity in Nashville.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
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Updated September 7, 2018