Saturday’s meeting with Kansas State hardly went the way quarterback Carson Strong or the rest of his Nevada team had planned for.
It was the first loss of the season for the signal-caller and the team as Kansas State reached a rather dominant 38-17 victory as time expired in the fourth quarter. Strong finished the day 27-of-40 passing for 262 yards with one touchdown and one interception—which appeared to be the product of a poor decision. That interception isn’t reflective of the way Strong usually performs though, as he headed into the contest with just six interceptions over his previous 16 games—throwing for 4,910 yards and 41 touchdowns with a 68% completion percentage.
There was a lot for Strong to carry in the game as the Wildcats completely shut down the Wolf Pack’s run game. Nevada averaged just 1.1 yards per carry. The team finished with a total of 27 rushing yards between four players (three running backs and Strong himself).
The defense didn’t do the offense many favors either, as the Wolf Pack were handled up front, allowing some 269 rushing yards and four touchdowns. That’s as bad as they’ve performed in that area since they went up against Ohio in the Idaho Potato Bowl at the beginning of 2020.
This may not have been Strong’s most standout performance (and let’s face it, he’s set the bar pretty high for himself so the expectations and scrutiny from the outside are tighter than usual now that he’s moved into the spotlight as a potential first-round selection), but it’s pretty clear that this loss is on Nevada collectively and has less to do with Strong than it does with some other factors.
On display though were some of the same things Strong has been so strongly commended for—which are primarily his abilities to put it in the right spots downfield in a way that very few others can and maintain high-level overall accuracy. Like some of the games in the past, there were a handful of drops from the receiving corps, which will skew a quarterback’s stat line.
It should also be noted that Strong was under a high level of pressure for practically the entire game, and when kept clean, was able to deliver some balls into seemingly impossibly tight windows, another thing he’s garnered attention for.
This particular play from Strong was one of his most impressive of the day, faking the handoff and getting a perfectly thrown ball off with perfect timing to find wideout Romeo Doubs and put Nevada right outside of the end zone.
It will be interesting to see how Strong continues to perform down the schedule, with he and the Wolf Pack facing a 1-2 Boise State team up next on Oct. 2 after the bye week. But if we’re going to make judgments on this week alone, it’s just a tough week for Nevada and there will be those with any football team. But there’s no reason to believe that Strong doesn’t still have all the right stuff to be QB1—which is why he still sits atop the rankings.
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