Chris Ault built Nevada into a consistent winner with a unique offensive attack. Jay Norvell had the Wolf Pack winning at a decent clip as well.
In Ken Wilson’s first season leading Nevada, the Wolf Pack went 2-10. That won’t cut it, and Wilson knows it.
“I’ve got to improve as a head coach,” Wilson said at the end of the season. “We’ve got to improve in really every aspect. Everything that goes into the tiny minutiae of winning football games. We were in five or six football games right to the end of the football games and didn’t find ways to win them, so we are evaluating all that. But we have to improve in every area. Every player knows that and every coach knows that.”
In fairness to Wilson, he’s only been the head coach for one season. To fire Wilson after two seasons, the 2023 season will need to go horrendously for Nevada.
On the flipside, Nevada will need to see progress to believe in Wilson’s long-term vision for the program. The season opener with USC is a likely loss, but outside of that the Wolf Pack play winnable games. The Mountain West will test the team, but after going 0-8 in league play last season, one conference win is technically an improvement.
There’s no reason Nevada’s program shouldn’t be shooting for at least four wins in 2023. Games with Idaho, Kansas, and Texas State will set the tone for the season, with Nevada likely needing to secure two wins across those three games to feel confident entering the conference schedule.
A slow start could doom Nevada’s chances of noticeable improvement in Year 2 of the Ken Wilson era. If Nevada does struggle, expect Wilson’s seat to grow hotter throughout the season.
Defense Could Be Decent
Wilson spent decades as a defensive assistant with Nevada, and he’s a well-respected defensive mind. He deserves time to build Nevada’s defense in the way he hopes.
Honestly, Wilson might have a respectable defense in 2023. Drue Watts is a Power Five caliber linebacker, and he headlines what should be a disruptive linebacker and defensive line group. If Nevada can stop the run and pressure quarterbacks consistently in 2023, the Wolf Pack will make a sizable leap forward.
There are some questions about the team’s secondary, but look for defense to be a strength.
Can the offense hold up? Colorado transfer Brendon Lewis looks like a capable quarterback, and he ran for 47 yards on four carries in the team’s spring game. He played well for Colorado at times in 2021, throwing 10 touchdowns compared to three interceptions. He has Pac-12 starting experience and solid athleticism, making him a guy Nevada can build around offensively.
Wilson isn’t in ideal standing after one year as Nevada’s head coach, but Nevada fans shouldn’t panic just yet. There are reasons for optimism in 2023.
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.