2008 UNLV Rebels Football Preview
UNLV 2007 Record: (2-10, 1-7 MWC)
2007 Bowl: none
UNLV Head Coach: Mike Sanford (6-29 at UNLV, 6-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Todd Berry
Defensive Coordinator: Dennis Therrell
Returning Leaders for UNLV:
- Rushing: Frank Summers, RB, 928 yards
- Passing: Travis Dixon, QB, 1,873 yards
- Receiving: Ryan Wolfe, WR, 784 yards
- Tackles: Daryl Forte, S, 94
- Sacks: Jacob Hales, DT, 3.0; Malo Taumua, DT, 3.0
- Interceptions: Quinton Pointer, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Rodelin Anthony, OT Johan Asiata, QB Omar Clayton, LB Starr Fuimaono, C Joe Hawley, G Siosifa Moala, OT Matt Murphy
Key Losses: LB Beau Bell, S Tony Cade, DE Jeremy Geathers, G Tim Goins, CB Mil’Von James, LB Bradley Niles, DE Elton Shackelford, WR Aaron Straiten
Year three is when coaches are supposed to start making an improvement. For Coach Mike Sanford and UNLV that was last season. And it ended the same as the two previous seasons…with just two wins. The offense has a ton of talent, but that has yet to translate into victories.
On paper, these guys should be pretty good. Coach Sanford was the man behind Alex Smith at Utah before taking over the Rebels job, but he has yet to work his magic on this team. Quarterbacks Travis Dixon and Omar Clayton split time last year as freshmen and should be more effective in the spread attack with that experience. Both can do a lot of damage with their feet, but having Casey Flair, Ryan Wolfe and Rodelin Anthony to throw the ball to will make passing much easier. The line was not very good last year, but at least four starters are returning. Sophomore Matt Murphy garnered First Team Freshman All-America honors last year and will try and lead the unit from his left tackle spot. If the line improves, so will the running game. Frank Summers, aptly nicknamed the ‘The Tank,’ is a bruiser of a back. At 240 pounds, he will run over the defenders and is surprisingly effective as a receiver out of the backfield.
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The defense was pretty good last year, but that is where most of the holes need to be filled. The defense will also have to adjust to life with new coordinator Dennis Therrell who hopes to improve on the team’s rushing defense. Having tackles Jacob Hales and Malo Taumua back will help, but ends Jeremy Geathers and Elton Shackelford need to be replaced. Despite the absence of Beau Bell, the linebackers should be in good hands. Bell is now off in the NFL, but Starr Fuimaono is ready to lead the unit. With a healthy mix of veterans like Jason Beauchamp and youngsters like Bryce Saldi and David Blair, the linebackers have plenty of potential and depth. The secondary lacks such depth. The corners, led by Geoffery Howard and Quinton Pointer, at least have some competition, but there are few options at safety outside of two-year starter Daryl Forte.
The Bottom Line for the Rebels:
This has to be the year for Coach Sanford and company. The offense looks like it could be explosive, yet it has been anything but explosive. If it does not happen this year, it will not happen, at least probably not under this regime. The Rebels were last in the conference scoring just over 18 points per game in 2007. If that number is not up by ten points, UNLV will be looking at another losing season.
2007 UNLV Rebels Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 140.67 (72nd in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 212.50 (68, 5)
Total Offense: 353.17 (84, 8)
Scoring Offense: 18.17 (111, 9)
Rushing Defense: 183.58 (87, 7)
Pass Defense: 203.25 (22, 3)
Total Defense: 386.83 (62, 7)
Scoring Defense: 28.58 (71, 7)
Turnover Margin: .08 (47, 4)
Sacks: 1.83 (78, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.67 (97, 8)
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Guest Writer
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