Nevada Wolf Pack Notes: Quarterback competition back on

Nevada quarterback Cristian Solano passes over Hawaii's Justus Tavai (50) during Saturday's game in Reno.

Nevada quarterback Cristian Solano passes over Hawaii's Justus Tavai (50) during Saturday's game in Reno.

The Nevada Wolf Pack now has a full-blown quarterback competition.

Head coach Jay Norvell said Monday that quarterbacks Carson Strong, Cristian Solano and Malik Henry will be evaluated over the next two weeks before the Wolf Pack’s next game against San Jose State on Oct. 12 at Mackay Stadium.

“Everybody is under scrutiny,” Norvell said. “We didn’t play well on Saturday. Quarterback is part of that. Everything is under consideration. We didn’t play well anywhere, not just at quarterback.”

Norvell, though, would not name a starter at quarterback for the San Jose State game.

“We will determine whose skills give us the best chances of moving the ball and scoring points,” he said.

The Wolf Pack used Strong and Solano in a stunning 54-3 loss to Hawaii on Saturday at Mackay Stadium. Neither quarterback moved the offense or scored many points. Solano, who replaced Strong late in the first half, was 11-of-17 for 59 yards with an interception. Strong started and was 7-of-14 for 46 yards and an interception.

The freshman Strong, who has started four of the Pack’s first five games, has completed 80-of-134 passes this year with three touchdowns and five interceptions. Solano, a senior who started the Pack’s 37-21 win at UTEP two weeks ago, is 24-of-36 this year with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Henry, a junior transfer who was once a Florida State recruit, has completed 3-of-3 passes for 28 yards without a touchdown or interception.

“We will determine who gives us the best opportunity to win,” Norvell said.

Strong’s performance has declined dramatically since he threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns in the season-opening 34-31 win over Purdue on Aug. 30. Over his last three appearances since the Purdue game Strong has completed 50-of-83 passes with five interceptions and no touchdowns for 434 yards in three games.

“All three quarterbacks have different strengths,” Norvell said. “Carson has to be great mentally and make better decisions. Cristian is more mobile and can run the ball and Malik is sort of a combination of both. He has great arm talent and great mobility.”

KINCAIDE LEAVES PROGRAM: Norvell confirmed Monday that senior running back Jaxson Kincaide has left the program and will enter the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Kincaide, a senior, is able to use the 2019 season as his redshirt year because he played in four or fewer games. He will be able to play for his new team immediately next season because he will do so as a graduate transfer.

Kincaide carried the ball 32 times for 146 yards and one touchdown and caught eight passes for 61 yards for the Pack this season.

Kincaide, who is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., joined the Pack as a true freshman in 2016. He carried the ball 199 times in his career for 939 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 38 passes for 316 yards and three scores.

His biggest gains with the Wolf Pack were a 48-yard run against Buffalo in his freshman year and a 73-yard touchdown catch against Portland State last year, though the pass was flipped to him from about a yard away by running back Toa Taua.

“Football is a team sport,“ Norvell said. “That’s what makes the game special. But some rules in college football promote selfish decision making.”

Going into the Hawaii game on Saturday, Kincaide has the second-most carries (32) behind Tao Taua (44) on the team.

“You can’t say we weren’t using Jaxson Kincaide or that Jaxson Kincaide was not an important part of what we were doing,” Norvell said.

Kincaide was a backup throughout his Wolf Pack career, playing behind James Butler as a freshman, Kelton Moore as a sophomore and Taua last year and this year.

NELSON, JOHNSON OUT: Jake Nelson and Daylon Johnson suffered broken arms against Hawaii and are out indefinitely.

Nelson, a senior, started all five games this year at left tackle while Johnson appeared in all five as a backup safety with five tackles.

“Jake’s loss is a big loss for us,” Norvell said.

Nelson joined the Wolf Pack in 2016 after one season at Saddleback College. He sat out the 2016 season as a redshirt and started all 12 games in 2017 and all 13 a year ago.

Johnson also joined the Pack in 2016 as a true freshman. He sat out the year as a redshirt and was injured all of 2017 before playing in nine games last year.

HISTORIC LOSSES: The 51-point loss to Hawaii and the 71-point loss to Oregon (77-6) this year gives the Wolf Pack two losses of 50 points or more in the same season for the first time since 1950. The Pack lost to San Francisco 66-6 and Santa Clara 55-0 in 1950.

The loss to Hawaii on Saturday is the Pack’s most one-sided loss at home since the 55-point loss to Santa Clara in 1950.

The largest loss at the current Mackay Stadium, which opened in 1966, before Saturday was 61-14 (47 points) to Fresno State in 2001.


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