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NFL Draft

Carson Strong’s Talent On Display In CFB Week 1

  • The Draft Network
  • September 5, 2021
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It was a wild Week 1 in college football. Several players—and teams as a whole—that were high up in the rankings didn’t perform quite the way we had foreseen. But some things remained consistent with projections, and one of those was the 2021 debut of Nevada quarterback Carson Strong as his team took down the California Golden Bears, 22-17, on the road Saturday night.

Strong told me ahead of the season that he wanted to be the first quarterback to post a single-season completion percentage of 85% after he completed 70.1% of his passes last season. Well, Strong did everything he needed to in the season opener as he completed 22-of-39 passing attempts for 312 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

https://twitter.com/crissy_froyd/status/1415124936432173059?s=20

Hold on, doesn’t this mean that Strong’s goal of an 85% completion percentage was just too bold and that he’ll fall short of it? After all, 22 divided by 39 does come out to 56.4%.

The answer to the question is “no” and this is one of the most perfect illustrations of why we don’t make evaluations based purely on a stat line. Strong was one of Nevada’s most essential assets to the Wolfpack coming out with the win.

Nevada couldn’t get the ground game rolling at the level it wanted to (bear in mind this is an Air Raid team, so think pass-happy, but Matt Mumme has noted the quality of his stable of running backs and he will absolutely use them on the ground when that seems to be the better option depending on what the defense is showing), as running backs Toa Taua, Devonte Lee, and Strong combined for a grand total of 66 yards on Saturday. But Strong and the receivers did a good job of getting things rolling, as Strong successfully distributed the ball to seven different receivers. 

As we’ve seen in the past, Strong’s quick release and what he brings to the table as an accurate passer with a high level of mental processing was on display all night long. One of the most impressive connections of Strong’s completions was this 43-yarder to wideout Romeo Doubs—which may be the best deep ball we’ve seen in college football so far this year.

https://twitter.com/NevadaFootball/status/1434361841665253382?s=20

You couldn’t ask for a more accurate pass that has the distance.

So, at this point, you’re probably wondering why he didn’t have more completions. Nevada struggled from several drops throughout the night from the receiving corps, even though the bright moments clearly overpowered the bad ones as the Wolfpack was able to get the job done and Strong was able to put up quite a few passing yards. This marked the ninth game of Strong’s career with at least 300 passing yards.

Despite the shortcomings of his wideouts at times, Strong still took a large amount of the blame as the leaders we know him to be and told reporters that he has a great amount of faith in his supporting cast.

“I believe that we have the best receivers in the country,” Strong said. “I mean, we’ve got so much depth—from Melquan (Stovall) to Tory to Romeo, Cookie (Elijah Cooks), Cole, Justin (Lockhart); I mean we’ve got guys all over and I trust them all.”

It wasn’t as pretty of a first game as Nevada would have hoped for, but several teams across the nation are going through a time period of knocking the rust off right now. Expect Strong and this Wolfpack team to continue on the up in a big way moving forward.

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