Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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36 SEPT. 12, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED joined by fifth-year senior graduate transfer Akeel Lynch, a former Penn State back who led the Nittany Lions in rushing in 2014 with 678 yards. Those backs now slot into new of- fensive coordinator Tim Cramsey's scheme. Last year's offensive coordi- nator, Nick Rolovich, left to become the head coach at Hawai'i and Polian brought in Cramsey, who is keep- ing the Wolf Pack's run-based Pistol scheme while incorporating more of a quick passing attack to running backs and tight ends. Cramsey had success last season at Football Championship Subdivision member Montana State, where he coordinated an offense led by quar- terback Dakota Prukop. After Prukop threw for 3,025 yards, completed 63.0 percent of his passes and had a 28- 10 TD-INT ratio for the Bobcats — while also rushing for 797 yards and 11 scores — he transferred to Oregon, where he is the starter this season. Though Cramsey doesn't have a Prukop-level talent at Nevada, wins and losses will still largely be deter- mined by Stewart's performance. "He has a lot of veteran talent around him," Murray said of Stew- art. "He's still going to have to lead the team and make big plays. "It's going to be a run-oriented team, but he's in a better position heading into this season than he was last year." Defensively, Nevada's linebackers are the top concern. Sophomore Gabe Sewell has been elevated to a starting role after the Wolf Pack graduated three starters and their top reserve from 2015. Seniors Alex Bertrando and L.J. Jackson are the other two first-time starters at linebacker. "It's still the biggest question mark on the team if you're going through positions," said Murray, a sentiment that hasn't changed since the end of spring practice. Murray said Nevada will rotate plenty of bodies on the defensive line. In the secondary, Nevada is thin at safety, providing little mar- gin for error on a defense that fin- ished 73rd in the country in total yards allowed per game (405.4), 62nd in scoring (26.8 points allowed per game), 52nd in passing yards allowed per game (214.0) and 91st in rushing yards allowed per game (191.38). "They're not very big," Murray said of the defense. "… It's going to be a smaller, faster defense that's go- ing to run and hit." Nevada is no stranger to big-time atmospheres, and Murray said he doesn't expect Notre Dame Stadium to intimidate the Wolf Pack. In 2015, Polian's team went into Texas A&M and hung with the Aggies, pulling within two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter. The week-two matchup comes on the heels of Notre Dame's game at Texas and Nevada's opener against FCS member Cal Poly. And though the Wolf Pack enters as a significant underdog, Murray said how the team plays will be much evaluated. "If you take care of business against Cal Poly and go play Notre Dame tough on the road, you're heading in the right direction," Mur- ray said. "If you go and beat Notre Dame, that's one of the best wins in program history. "If they go in and it's competitive, they'll take that as a win." ✦ GAME PREVIEW: NEVADA 2016 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 4 at Texas (ABC) L, 50-47 (2OT) Sept. 10 Nevada (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Sept. 17 Michigan State (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 Duke (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Oct. 1 vs. Syracuse* TBA Oct. 8 at North Carolina State TBA Oct. 15 Stanford (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 Miami (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 5 vs. Navy^ (CBS) 11:30 a.m. Nov. 12 vs. Army# (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 Virginia Tech (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at USC TBA * at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; ^ at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.; # at Alamodome in San Antonio 2016 NEVADA SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 2 Cal Poly W, 30-27 (OT) Sept. 10 at Notre Dame (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Sept. 17 Buffalo (MWN) 9 p.m. Sept. 24 at Purdue TBA Oct. 1 Hawai'i 12 a.m. Oct. 8 Fresno State TBA Oct. 15 at San Jose State (CBSSN) 10:30 p.m. Oct. 22 Wyoming TBA Nov. 5 at New Mexico TBA Nov. 12 at San Diego State 10:30 p.m. Nov. 19 Utah State TBA Nov. 26 at UNLV TBA MWN — Mountain West Network; CBSSN — CBS Sports Network Polian, who was an assistant under Charlie Weis at Notre Dame from 2005-09, has two years remaining on his contract. PHOTO BY JOHN BYRNE/COURTESY NEVADA

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