When Nevada plays at Oregon on Saturday, there will be some interesting ties between the teams. Here is a look at some of them.
Oregon assistants Jim Mastro (running backs coach), Ken Wilson (linebackers coach) and Donte Williams (cornerbacks coach) all spent time on Nevada's staff. Mastro coached at Nevada from 2000-10; Wilson was at Nevada from 1989-1998 and 2004-12; and Williams was at Nevada in 2010.
We covered this one more in depth here, but Nevada's Gabriel Sewell and Oregon's Penei Sewell are brothers and will play against each other for the first time ever. Their parents aren't exactly looking forward to it.
Nevada has 62 players on its roster from California. Oregon has 49 players on its roster from California. As a result, many of these players grew up playing with or against each other in youth and high school football. "The one thing about this game is we know the team," Nevada coach Jay Norvell said. "Our players have played against most of these guys growing up in high school. It’s familiarity. We have a lot of Southern California kids. They have a lot of Southern California kids. There’s a lot of familiarity in the personal with this team. A lot of old rivalries.”
Oregon's defensive coordinator, Andy Avalos, spent the previous seven seasons at Boise State, including serving as the Broncos' defensive coordinator from 2016-18. The last two years, Avalos faced Nevada's offense and held the Wolf Pack to 14 points in 2017 and 27 points in 2018. The Oregon media has played up the fact Boise State held Toa Taua to just 16 yards on nine carries last season. That was during a four-game stretch in which Taua exceeded 26 rushing yards just once, so I wouldn't put a ton of stock into it, although having coached against this version of Nevada's offense twice is certainly helpful for Avalos.
Avalos was complimentary of Nevada's improvement under Norvell, saying: "The program just keeps getting better and better. What they're doing there, it keeps growing. Obviously they've had success. Regardless of who they're playing, they come ready to play every single week. The mentality there of that program is they're a physical, blue-collar operation and there's no question they'll be ready to play a physical game."
Strong and Holland
Nevada quarterback Carson Strong got one of his big breaks when he made KT Prep's seven-on-seven team as a high school junior. One of his teammates on that squad was Oregon safety Jevon Holland, who had five interceptions as a true freshman last year and added another pick in the season opener against Auburn. "He's a really good player," Strong said of Holland this week. Strong's Will C. Wood High team also played against Holland's Bishop O'Dowd squad when both were sophomores in high school, but Strong didn't appear in that game.
I'll have more on this later today, but Nevada was the first FBS school to offer a scholarship to Herbert, the Ducks' star quarterback. But Oregon offered him literally a couple of hours later and he pledged to play for the Ducks. Sean Dollars, the nation's No. 1 all-purpose back in the 2019 class, also committed to Oregon over Nevada as well as Florida State, Georgia, USC and Washington.
The Spanish Springs High senior linebacker/tight end got his first scholarship offer from his hometown school, Nevada, but committed to Oregon in June over a bushel of Power 5 offers. It'd be interesting to see who he's rooting for. Most likely the Ducks.