Those who stayed up late Saturday night in hopes of watching good quarterback play got just what they ordered.
This past week saw plenty of success for Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, who is currently QB1 ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, as he completed 25-of-32 passes (over 78%) for 377 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in the 55-28 win over New Mexico State. Those six touchdown passes are both a career-high for Strong and the reason why Nevada was selling $6 seats on Tuesday for the upcoming home game against Hawaii. This comes just one week after Strong and the rest of the Wolf Pack made a statement the week before last when they knocked off Boise State on the road for the first time since 1997, recording a 41-31 victory on the blue turf.
The numbers jump off the paper looking at Strong’s latest performance—that much is obvious. But what’s even more impressive is the fact Strong was without both star wide receiver Romeo Doubs (who is expected to be back this week) and that the Wolf Pack put up 533 yards of total offense, with 265 yards and 28 points just in the second quarter. This is reflective both of Strong’s personal abilities and the way the Air Raid offense doesn’t rely on single playmakers to get the job done for the team week in and week out—it’s a system that distributes the ball to several targets with a focus on getting the ball to a guy who can score as opposed to having one particular standout wide receiver or running back who gets the majority of the touches.
This was the third 300-yard performance of the 2021 season for Strong and the 11th of his career, and he put together those numbers not necessarily because of the pass-happy scheme he’s in but because of his steady level of accuracy at all levels of the field and ball placement he brings to the table.
There seems to be a common misconception with quarterbacks like Strong who play in the Air Raid that they’re simply producing high numbers because of the scheme they’re in, but it takes a lot from the standpoint of mental processing, accuracy, and having a quick release for a signal-caller to thrive in this system, and that’s why Strong is successful. If a quarterback doesn’t have that and plays in the Air Raid, things can go awry pretty quickly and there’s plenty of film to go around throughout history to back that up from teams who run the Air Raid or several of its concepts and have a quarterback who holds the ball too long or is simply too much of an “overthinker.”
Outside of the mental aspect of things and the intangibles Strong brings to the table that seems to have caught more attention from some, it’s also interesting to note that Strong was described by some analysts as a quarterback who had just enough or unimpressive arm strength. It’s safe to say he’s silenced that talk to this point in the season because this is hard to argue with.
Now sitting at 4-1, Nevada and Strong will continue their quest to win a Mountain West Championship this year, with Hawaii, Fresno State, UNLV, San Jose State, San Diego State, Air Force, and Colorado State left on the regular-season schedule.