NCF Nation: Brett Roy

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Three Keys

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
2:30
PM ET
You saw the preview and prediction. Now here are three keys for Nevada and Southern Miss heading into the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Saturday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Nevada (7-5)

1. Block Jamie Collins and Cordarro Law. For the Wolf Pack to have any success with their Pistol offense, they are going to have to take stock of these two players, who have been terrific at making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Southern Miss ranks No. 20 in rush defense, and Collins and Law are a big reason for that. Collins, who plays the hybrid end/linebacker role, really does a nice job shutting down the perimeter. He has 94 tackles this season, with a team-leading 19.5 tackles for loss (tied for No. 10 nationally) and 6.5 sacks. Law has 7.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.

2. Consistent defense. One of the biggest reasons Nevada struggled late in the season was because of inconsistent play on defense, especially in the secondary. This group will be facing one of the most balanced teams it has played this season, so it has to be ready for equal doses of runs and passes, and has to be on the lookout for Austin Davis scrambling out of the pocket, too. It is a cliche to say Nevada has to play assignment-sound, but it totally fits the bill here.

3. Rishard Matthews advantage. Matthews is the best, most consistent player the Wolf Pack have on offense, so it will be critical to get the ball to him in what appears to be a huge matchup advantage. Matthews leads the team with 91 receptions for 1,364 yards and eight touchdowns. He most likely will be paired against Deron Wilson, and has a huge size advantage on the cornerback (4 inches, 40 pounds).

Southern Miss (10-2)

1. Big plays in the pass game. Davis has been terrific this season in leading Southern Miss, and he will have an opportunity to take advantage of the biggest area of weakness Nevada has on defense -- the secondary. Ryan Balentine and Kelvin Bolden each have more than 600 yards receiving and have been the most consistent threats in the pass game. The Golden Eagles also are effective at getting the ball to Tracy Lampley out of the backfield.

2. Block Brett Roy. No question Nevada will try to get Davis off his rhythm by getting after him. Roy, a first-team WAC defensive tackle, had 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, and is the best player on the Wolf Pack front. Nevada has been solid at generating a pass rush this season, but the big problem facing Nevada is Davis' escapability and a solid offensive line that has only allowed 15 sacks all season.

3. Make Cody Fajardo win it. Fajardo has shown flashes this season, but this defense has been excellent at putting major pressure on quarterbacks and forcing mistakes. Just ask Case Keenum, who had his worst game of the season against Southern Miss. Dan Disch has done a great job installing his 4-2-5 scheme, and Southern Miss has set a new FBS record with eight interception returns for touchdowns. You can bet this group will be hoping for a few more against the redshirt freshman quarterback.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

October, 10, 2011
10/10/11
4:36
PM ET
Here are your non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference. The independent players are selected by a national media panel.

Conference USA

Offense: Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss. Set a school record for passing efficiency and was responsible for four total touchdowns in a 63-35 win at Navy. Davis threw for 283 yards on 21-of-23 passing with three touchdowns, and also rushed for 75 yards on 12 carries with a running score.

Defense: Phillip Steward, LB, Houston. Had a pair of key interceptions in a 56-3 win against East Carolina, the Cougars fewest points allowed in a conference game since 2004.

Special Teams: Marques Wheaton, DB, Southern Miss. Blocked a field goal and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown, his second straight week with a score.

Independent

Offense: Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame. Went 23-of-32 for 261 yards and four touchdowns -- all of which came in the first two quarters -- in a 59-33 win against Air Force. Rees is the first Notre Dame player to throw for four touchdown passes in the first half since Brady Quinn on Sept. 25, 2004.

Defense: Jamoris Slaughter, S, Notre Dame. Forced a fumble on the Cadets’ first drive of the contest, and later recorded an interception -- his first of the season and the second of his career.

Special teams: Justin Sorensen, PK, BYU. Went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts (hitting from 42 and 45 yards) and made all three of his extra-point attempts.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Branden Oliver, RB, Buffalo. Ran for a career-high 179 yards on 34 carries and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 5:45 remaining on fourth-and-1, to help lift Buffalo to a 38-37 win against Ohio.

Defense: Stephen Johnson, LB, Temple. Led the Owls with a career-high 16 tackles, including a career-high eight solos, one sack and a career-high two tackles for a loss in a 42-0 win at Ball State.

Special teams: Matt Weller, K, Ohio. Tied a season-high with three field goals made in a 38-37 loss at Buffalo. His 43-yarder was his fourth field goal this season from 40 or more yards.

West Division

Offense: Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan. Recorded his fourth-straight game with 10 or more catches and more than 100 yards with 12 receptions and 156 yards in a 45-21 win against Bowling Green. His four consecutive 100-yard receiving games ties the record set by Jamarko Simmons at the end of the 2006 and into the first three games of the 2007 season.

Defense: Ron Newcomb, DT, Northern Illinois. Had a career-high nine tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble in a 40-10 win against Kent State. He also blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.

Special teams: Eric Page, PR, Toledo. Returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in a 54-16 win against Eastern Michigan. The punt return for a touchdown was the first of his career.

Mountain West

Offense: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State. Moore went 23-of-31 for 254 yards and three touchdowns in just over two quarters of play in a 57-7 win at Fresno State.

Defense: Tekerrein Cuba, S, TCU. Cuba finished with a team-high eight tackles in the Horned Frogs’ 27-14 win at San Diego State. Cuba also had a tackle for loss, forced a fumble and broke up a pass.

Special teams: Ross Evans, K, TCU. Evans finished with nine points in a win at San Diego State, tying the Mountain West all-time scoring record of 356 set by former New Mexico running back DonTrell Moore (2002-05). Evans connected on field goals of 47 and 21 yards while making all three of his extra-point attempts.

Sun Belt

Offense: Chris Masson, QB, Louisiana. Masson stepped in for an injured Blaine Gautier on the first series of the game and led the Cajuns to a 31-17 win against Troy. He went 21-of-29 for 211 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions. The Cajuns have won five consecutive games and have tied the league record for best start to begin a season.

Defense: Kelcie McCray, S, Arkansas State. Had a career-high two interceptions against ULM to help lead the Red Wolves to their 24-19 victory. He also had a pass breakup and six tackles.

Special Teams: Don Jones, DB, Arkansas State. Jones blocked a punt and returned it 25 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter in a win over ULM.

WAC

Offense: Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State. Went 16-of-21 for 228 yards and a school-record tying five touchdowns in a 63-19 win against Wyoming. He also added 44 rushing yards on four carries. All five touchdown passes came in the first half as Utah State scored on its first eight possessions of the game.

Defense: Brett Roy, DT, Nevada. Set a career-high with 11 tackles, including four for a loss (one sack), in a 37-0 win against UNLV. Roy leads the nation in tackles for loss with 2.5 per game.

Special teams: Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech. Punted 10 times for a 48-yard average in a 24-11 win at Idaho. Allen had six punts inside the 20, including four inside the 10-yard line.

Spring rewind: Nevada

April, 27, 2011
4/27/11
9:00
AM ET
Here is a look at where Nevada stands headed into the offseason:

Questions answered: The biggest question was who will replace Colin Kaepernick behind center. Though coach Chris Ault has not officially named a starter, he did say Tyler Lantrip was the man to beat. Lantrip had a good spring, and went 8-of-18 for 108 yards with one touchdown passing and one rushing in the spring game. Quarterbacks Mason Magleby and Cody Fajardo also impressed Ault this spring. Receiver looks to be an area of strength with the continued improvement of Rishard Matthews, who had an excellent spring after coming on strong in the second half of 2010. This could bode well for the Wolf Pack because Lantrip is better as a passer than a runner. Running back also is an area of depth and strength with the emergence of two more players during the spring -- junior college transfer Nick Hale and Stefphon Jefferson did well as projected starter Mike Ball and Lampford Mark sat out most of the drills while they recovered from injuries. This obviously is an important position in the Pistol offense, one that loses 1,000-yard back Vai Taua.

Questions unanswered: The defense showed much improvement last season, but will have some big questions once fall practice rolls around. Starting defensive ends Ryan Coulson and Dontay Moch are gone, leaving bookend holes on the defensive line. Then there was more bad news during the spring. Kaelin Burnett, the heir apparent to Moch, will miss the season with a broken pelvis. Nevada signed five defensive ends, and some are expected to play, including former UCLA signee Rykeem Yates. The good news is defensive tackle Brett Roy had a good spring and linebackers James-Michael Johnson and Brandon Marshall return. What could be a problem on defense is depth, and that could be a big issue in the brutal opening stretch of the season.

Spring stars: Jefferson had 137 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries in the spring game. Safety Dean Faddis also had a good spring and a great spring game, with five tackles and a forced fumble.

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