Pre-Snap Read: Nevada

Previewing Saturday’s matchup between Vanderbilt and Nevada (11 a.m. CT on SEC Network):
History Lesson: This will be Vanderbilt’s first-ever matchup with Nevada.
Names to Watch (Nevada)
QB Ted Gangi
Gangi, a dual-threat quarterback, led the Mountain West in passing offense in conference games a year ago and is off to a solid start this season. He threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns against Portland State, but Gangi can be just as dangerous escaping the pocket with his legs.
WR McLane Mannix
As a freshman in 2017, Mannix wasted no time making an impact for Nevada. He hauled in 57 catches for 778 yards and six touchdowns and averaged 13.6 yards per catch. The Midland, Texas native is the top receiving target in the Wolf Pack’s Air Raid offense.
LB Malik Reed
The Wolf Pack senior earned preseason recognition on watch lists for both the Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Awards. Reed has 15 career sacks and needs just 1.5 more to break into Nevada’s career top 10 in that category.
The Statistical
Points scored by Nevada in Week 1. The Wolf Pack laid the hammer down on Portland State in a 72-19 win on Aug. 31. Nevada’s 72 points were the third-most scored by any Division I team in Week 1 and the most scored at the school’s Mackay Stadium since it hung 72 points on North Texas in 1991.
Sacks recorded by Vanderbilt last week against Middle Tennessee. The Commodores were extra aggressive on defense in their opener, sacking Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill six times and chipping in nine total tackles for loss. Vanderbilt’s six sacks matched its single-game season-high from 2017 (Western Kentucky).
Yards per game allowed by Nevada’s defense last season, a number that ranked 120th nationally. That ranking improved to 95th when considering yards per play allowed (6.12), but the Wolf Pack still spent much of the offseason looking to shore up that side of the ball. Vanderbilt’s offense will be the first true test of the season for Nevada’s defense.
The Big Question: Is Nevada’s offense for real? Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said his team can’t overlook an opponent that scored 72 points in its first game. But Portland State of the FCS did not put up much of a fight. Meanwhile, the Dores’ defense looked stingy in its 35-7 opening win over Middle Tennessee. Can coordinator Jason Tarver’s unit repeat that performance against the likes of Gangi, Mannix and others?
Vanderbilt Needs To: Start fast. The Commodores scored 35 points against MTSU, but they only managed seven offensive points before halftime, when they held a slim 14-7 edge at the break. Nevada’s offense boasts firepower, so it’s unlikely Vanderbilt can fool around too long without running the risk of an early deficit. The Dores need to put their foot on the gas and keep it there from start to finish.
Did You Know? Nevada has never beaten a current member of the Southeastern Conference. The Wolf Pack are 0-4 all time against SEC foes, losing two games apiece to Missouri and Texas A&M.
He Said It: “They’re a high-scoring offense. We’re a high-powered defense. We’ll have to come to the game ready to play like every week.” –Vanderbilt senior linebacker Josh Smith
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.