UNLV enters conference-only schedule with many questions looming
It’s hard to say what UNLV Football will look like when it’s season begins Saturday, October 24 on the road against San Diego State.
All that can be said, is it will look different nonetheless.
Marcus Arroyo enters campus as the 12th head coach in program history after spending the last three seasons with Oregon of the Pac-12.
He takes over for former head coach Tony Sanchez, who posted a 20-40 record in five seasons.
The last eight head coaches for UNLV football compiled a record of 136-307-1.
The first three coaches in program history posted a mark of 100-51-3.
UNLV is in search of it’s first bowl game since 2000, after only reaching two in program history.
Arroyo brings Glenn Thomas in to be his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Thomas has strong ties to new Carolina Panthers head coach, Matt Rhule, after spending time with him at Temple and Baylor.
While at Temple, Thomas helped develop quarterback P.J. Walker, who is also in Carolina currently.
Most notably, Thomas was the quarterbacks coach for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for three years.
He also had stints in Baltimore and Jacksonville.
Peter Hansen was selected by Arroyo to be his defensive coordinator and lead his linebacker group.
Hansen is most known for his work with NFL staple Blake Martinez when he was at Stanford, making the First Team All-Pac-12.
Before coming to Stanford for a second stint, Hansen also gained NFL experience with the San Francisco 49ers.
While Hansen may be unsure of what his defense will look like, again we know it will look much different from last year.
The defense lost multiple key pieces including it’s top three tacklers, leader in interceptions and team leaders.
Linebacker Rayshad Jackson ranked first on the team with 99 tackles but he also accounted for two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Defensive back Evan Austrie was second on the team with 81 tackles also tallying two sacks and two forced fumbles.
If football had a utility man, Javin White, would fit that mold but his 79 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and forced fumble stat line from last season will be missed from the team.
White is staying local as he is listed on the Raiders’ practice squad.
Defensive back Jericho Flowers led the team with four interceptions, adding 68 tackles, 12 break ups, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Linebacker Gabe McCoy, a team captain known as the vocal and emotional leader, leaves the program after posting 32 tackles and two sacks in his final year with the Rebels.
Both Flowers and McCoy played all four years at UNLV.
In addition, the team lost 8.5 of its 12 sacks from 2019.
UNLV will be looking to improve it’s -4 turnover margin from last year.
Defensive lineman Kolo Uasike and linebacker Vic Viramontes may be entrusted to lead the new-look Rebel defense.
Uasike posted 26 tackles (1.5 for a loss), a fumble recovery and an interception during the 2019 season.
Viramontes tallied 20 tackles with one of them going for a loss.
With so much shuffling on the defensive side of the ball, the offensive side will feature it’s fair share of changes as well.
Former starting quarterback Armani Rogers is now at the University of Ohio after transferring.
Last season, Rogers went 41-for-79, passing for 393 yards, throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Known as more of a running quarterback, Rogers accumulated 204 yards on 50 carries and two touchdowns.
Then-freshman Kenyon Oblad took over the reigns, starting nine games, going 167-for-308, passing for 2,081 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
He ended the season with a quarterback rating of 124.4)
In those nine games, he threw for over 200 yards in six and had multiple touchdowns in seven.
Moreover, six Rebel players caught at least two touchdown passes led by wide receiver Randal Grimes’ seven.
He will be aided on the offensive end by senior running back Charles Williams, also known as the “Chuck Wagon.”
Williams, who is a semifinalist for the Campbell Academic Award, finished last season with 1,257 yards on 212 carries, scoring 11 times.
He averaged 104.8 rush yards per game, going over the century-mark six games led by a 186-yard performance against San Jose State in the Sam Boyd Stadium send-off.
The offense will be without vocal leader Darren Woods Jr., who played four seasons in Rebel red.
Last season, he accounted for 21 receptions, 276 yards and three touchdowns.
Due to COVID-19, the college football season has been altered in many ways.
One of which is the Mountain West opting to go with an eight-game regular season with the championship game set for Dec. 19.
Last year, UNLV went 2-6 against conference foes with both wins coming in the state of Nevada (Sam Boyd Stadium finale and season finale against Nevada – Reno).
The team opens the season Saturday, Oct. 24 on the road against San Diego State.
When the team does open have it’s season opener on Halloween, UNLV will invite it’s rival from the north, UNR, for the opening of the newly-built Allegiant Stadium.
UNLV will be the first in Las Vegas to feature fans in the stands since the pandemic began in March.
As of now, the program is expected to allow about three percent of it’s new $1.9 billion stadium.