Where does Carson Strong's starting debut rank in Nevada football history?

Carson Strong
Carson Strong had a strong debut in a win over Purdue. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong made his starting debut for the Wolf Pack last Friday to rave reviews after leading his team to a come-from-behind 34-31 win over Purdue. But how did his performance stack up against other starting debuts from Nevada quarterbacks? I culled the first starts for every Nevada quarterback since 2000. (Why 2000? Because that's how far College Football Reference's game logs go back.) The Wolf Pack has had 15 first-time starting quarterbacks since 2000. Below, I've ranked them based on their passer rating in their first college starts.

1. Tyler Stewart (2013 vs. Hawaii): 14-of-20, 202 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, four carries for 29 yards, 204.3 passer rating

2. Andy Heiser (2003 at San Jose State): 17-of-24, 291 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 10 carries for 49 yards, 1 TD, 191.9 passer rating

3. Devin Combs (2012 at UNLV): 14-of-19, 167 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 19 carries for 11 yards, 1 TD, 171.7 passer rating

4. Colin Kaepernick (2007 at Boise State): 11-of-26, 243 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 14 carries for 177 yards, 2 TDs, 158.9 passer rating

5. Ty Gangi (2016 at New Mexico): 19-of-34, 301 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, two carries for 0 yards, 147.6 passer rating

6. Jeff Rowe (2003 vs. Southern Utah): 8-of-13, 85 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, six carries for 22 yards, 141.8 passer rating

7. Kaymen Cureton (2017 vs. Idaho State): 19-of-33, 205 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 16 carries for five yards, 133.7 passer rating

8. Travis Moore (2006 vs. San Jose State) 20-of-28, 178 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 11 carries for 22 yards, 1 TD, 129.5 passer rating

9. Carson Strong (2019 vs. Purdue): 30-of-51, 295 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, six carries for 34 yards, 126.8 passer rating

10. Tyler Lantrip (2011 at Oregon): 21-of-35, 219 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 10 carries for 51 yards, 110.6 passer rating

11. Zack Threadgill (2001 at Colorado State): 25-of-44, 265 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs, nine carries for 10 yards, 101.3 passer rating

12. Cody Fajardo (2011 vs. UNLV): 11-of-15, 93 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, nine carries for 40 yards, 98.7 passer rating

13. Brett Staninger (2000 vs. UTEP): 21-of-47, 258 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, three carries for minus-38 yards, 92.1 passer rating

14. Cristian Solano (2018 vs. Fresno State): 22-of-43, 195 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 23 carries for 71 yards, 75.3 passer rating

15. Nick Graziano (2007 at Nebraska): 8-of-24, 109 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, six carries for 29 yards, 63.2 passer rating

I'm not sure we can gleam much from these numbers. For starters, the level of competition is wildly different from one player to the next. Additionally, some of these players were freshmen starters and others were more experienced and didn't start until their junior or senior seasons. But it's fun to look at nonetheless.

Strong's rating might be lower than you'd expect, but that's largely because of his yards per passing attempt (5.78 is pretty low; typically you want to be in the high-7s). But one thing that stood out to me is Strong is one of only four quarterbacks on this list to have a zero-turnover debut. The others? Colin Kaepernick, Jeff Rowe and Tyler Stewart. The first two players on that list made it to the NFL. Strong's 295 passing yards also were the second highest of anybody on this list behind Ty Gangi's 301-yard starting debut.

"Certainly their quarterback does not play like a freshman," Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said of Strong earlier this week. "He's a big guy who has a lot of length and athleticism."

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