Nevada has moved on from the Carson Strong era—not by choice but because he declared for the 2022 NFL Draft as a likely first-rounder and perhaps the No. 1 signal-caller in the class by the time April rolls around. This is a team that couldn’t be much more in a state of transition with head coach Jay Norvell and offensive coordinator Matt Mumme moving on to Colorado State along with a host of others—that doesn’t include defensive coordinator Brian Ward leaving for Washington State and talented players like wide receiver Romeo Doubs departing for the next level.
So, with Strong gone and all the changes being made, who does Nevada turn to now? For now, that person is Nate Cox—the tallest quarterback in all of college football at 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds. He’s gotten plenty of attention for his stature, but there’s obviously a lot more than that that matters in terms of what Nevada is looking for with such a large void to fill.
Cox has a bit of a different skill set than Strong does. Cox is solid as a passer but has shown a little need for improvement throwing the ball at times (as a lot of less experienced quarterbacks obviously do—Cox is a senior, but hasn’t seen a wealth of action). Cox has more mobility and ability to make plays with his legs than Strong showed.
Cox took the field for Nevada in the Quick Lane Bowl, faced with a tough task as the Wolf Pack went up against another team with a high-powered offense and solid quarterback in Kaleb Eleby. Western Michigan is a solid team in several aspects and wasn’t dealing with anywhere remotely close to the same amount of roster or coaching turnover, so Nevada was a clear underdog in just about every facet of the game.
The Wolf Pack did most of their good on the ground, as Cox completed 12-of-23 passes for 121 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Running backs were responsible for two of Nevada’s scores, as rusher Devonte Lee carried the ball seven times for 85 yards with one touchdown and Toa Taua carried the ball 11 times for 28 yards with one touchdown.
While this wasn’t his most solid performance, Cox can sling it and has certainly had some bright spots in the time we’ve seen him on the field—and as mentioned above, he was very much up against the odds leading a suddenly quite inexperienced Nevada team under a different coaching situation in Detroit. This is a nice throw on the run by Cox to get Nevada back on the scoreboard, though the Wolf Pack left much to be desired with this being their only passing touchdown of the outing.
Nevada fans should be excited about the foundation Cox has set and he should be a solid piece for the team in the future, even though there are plenty of other things to tend to for the Wolf Pack to be a successful football team in 2022.
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